Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC)
Commercial kitchens are, understandably, high users of energy. Compared to other commercial operations they generally consume about 2.5 times more energy per square foot of the kitchen space.
When designing commercial kitchens, our electrical, plumbing, and mechanical solutions, including HVAC, counter in factors that don’t only include production capacity, operating hours per day/night, and maintenance costs, but also preheat energy consumption and idle energy rate usage.
Our HVAC engineers understand the implications of the codes that relate to commercial and how they must be incorporated into a successful commercial kitchen design.
More specifically, the NYC Energy Code 2016 has a section on Building Mechanical Systems that details requirements for HVAC systems. These regulations are mandatory and our NYE HVAC engineers are familiar with their requirements.
When it comes to ventilation, commercial kitchens in NYC must comply with the requirements of the relevant section of the City’s Mechanical Code.
Ventilation is also an issue in the section of food preparation and food establishments in the NYC Health Code. This isn’t surprising. It stands to reason that good ventilation is needed to prevent and control excessive steam, heat, condensation, fumes, smoke, vapors, and unpleasant odors that inevitably develop in hot kitchens. For this reason:
- Mechanical ventilation needs to be installed in kitchens where fumes, vapors, or odors originate.
- Ventilation hoods need to be built or installed to stop grease and condensation from collecting on walls and ceilings and dripping into food or onto surfaces used for food preparation.
- Exhaust and intake ducts need to be constructed so that they don’t allow smoke, dust, fumes, or any other contaminant to blow inside.
Lighting and Electrics
The electrical plan for any commercial kitchen includes plug points and switches for appliances, refrigeration and other equipment, as well as lighting, in accordance with local electrical codes. Compliance with codes that cover commercial energy efficiency may also be required, specifically in terms of lighting.
The NYC Energy Code, mentioned above, has a section on Electrical Power and Lighting Systems that covers lighting systems controls as well as maximum electrical energy consumption and lighting power. Requirements for walk-in freezers and walk-in coolers are specified. All buildings that contain food preparation areas, including commercial kitchens, are required to use reduced energy use in service water heating. Ultimately, this will make your establishment more energy-efficient.
However, it is essential that anyone working in a commercial kitchen can see what they are doing! Apart from food preparation and cooking, they need to be able to find the right equipment and recognize the condition of food. For this reason, the NYC and other city health codes specify minimum requirements for artificial lighting. Lighting must be a lot brighter where food preparation and cooking takes place.
Because of the heat given out by lighting, lighting fixtures need to be shielded when they are installed over food storage, food preparation, and within display facilities or where equipment and utensils are cleaned and stored. This is largely to protect the food if light bulbs shatter.
Every single type of building is dependent on plumbing. It provides the inhabitants with hot and cold water and enables them to dispose of liquid waste and sewage.
Commercial kitchens need an adequate supply of potable water and they need to be equipped with compliant fixtures and fittings for plumbing. Hand washing sinks with hot and cold potable running water are essential for food preparation and service and for washing dishes. These should be located no more than 25 feet from where food is prepared.
Additionally, there must be sinks or basins for employees and patrons in dedicated toilet rooms. The NYC Plumbing Code specifies the minimum number of plumbing fixtures (WCs, urinals and so on) that are required.
The plumbing systems, including the fixtures and fittings required to make it work, need to be of standard quality, properly installed and connected, vented and drained so that there is no possible contamination of the potable water supply. It is also vital that all plumbing equipment and fixtures used are designed with some sort of device that prevents any possible cross-connection, back-flow or siphonage into the water supply provided.
Of course, commercial kitchen design must also allow for the disposal of grey water, liquid waste, and sewage.
The origins of these waste products are greater than most people imagine and include:
- Water and other fluids drained from various sinks.
- Liquid condensates from kitchen equipment including refrigerators and ice machines, as well as air conditioners, evaporator trays, drain pans, and various plumbing fixtures and cooling lines.
- Fluids discarded after cooking.
Most parts of NYC have combined sewer systems, and the Health Code requires that all this liquid waste, together with sewage, is conveyed to the sewage disposal system or sewer to prevent contamination of the premises.
Direct connections are required for wastewater so that it can be discharged into sewer-connected plumbing lines with proper traps. Indirect connections are required for waste lines from equipment. These must be installed so that there is no back-flow from other drains, waste lines, and sewers. It is important that there is no direct connection between equipment used for hot and cold storage or the mechanical processing of food and drains from plumbing fixtures or the sewage system.
Designing commercial kitchens is a much more complicated process than designing residential single-family kitchens. Our MEP engineering team has the experience and expertise to ensure your commercial kitchen will be key to the success of your business.