Energy & Emissions Food

Energy Efficiency in Dining Facilities

Washington University and Bon Appetit staff members are helping conserve energy, decrease emissions, and save money by targeting efficiency projects across campus dining locations. Refrigeration has been a focus area in recent months.

Refrigeration is estimated to use twenty percent of the world’s global energy. Refrigerators cycle cold air when built-in thermostats recognize changes in air temperature. Efficiency problems arise when refrigerator doors open and close, causing the air temperature to rise while food temperatures remain relatively stable. The slight change in air temperature ignites unnecessary air circulation cycles, resulting in excessive electricity use, wear and tear on the equipment, higher energy bills, and a large environmental impact.

Dining Services’ Equipment Operations Specialist recently installed an innovative device in walk-in coolers at Bear’s Den and Ibby’s. The device, called an Endocube (see black box in photo above), reduces energy consumption without compromising the quality of food by eliminating unnecessary refrigeration cycles. It reduces the frequency of cycles by measuring food temperature instead of air temperature. In doing so, the device has the ability to reduce power consumption up to 35% and refrigeration cycles by as much as 80%. The Endocube is made up of a non-toxic wax food simulant contained in a double-skinned enclosure that mimics food temperature at around 10mm below the surface. It fits around the refrigerator’s thermometer so that the sensor responds to changes in food temperature instead of air temperature. If the first two Endocubes report positive results, Dining Services will install the device in other walk-in coolers across campus. Their efforts represent a significant step towards meeting the university’s energy goals!