Commercial kitchen design considerations

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There are a wide range of commercial kitchen design considerations to act upon when planning a commercial kitchen. Grease, odour and smoke emissions produced by commercial kitchens are becoming an increasing concern for Environmental Health Officers (EHO’s).   David Glover, MD of Plasma Clean, discusses five things for Architects, M&E and Foodservice Ventilation Consultants to consider when dealing with a local authority – either at the planning stage or for an existing problem site.

As a grease, smoke and odour control specialist working in many UK commercial kitchen projects, Plasma Clean sees many situations where Environmental Health or Local Planning action related to odour control impacts the kitchen ventilation consultant. This may be as a result of additional work and alterations, costs not factored into the original specification or keeping contractors on hold while a job waits for planning approval.

It has become more common that as part of obtaining planning consent for a project with a commercial kitchen an odour, smoke and grease control strategy must be in place in line with DEFRA guidance. This is not just about protecting the environment from nuisance emissions, but also reducing grease build up in the ductwork which could present a fire risk in the future.

Odour, smoke and grease control is a specialist area, and in particular when working with an EHO, certain criteria and guidance need to be met.

At Plasma Clean we have the experience and expertise to select the most suitable equipment, taking into consideration the likely mix of smoke, grease and odour emissions; as well as any site restrictions such as limited plant space. Plasma Clean provides this service as a free consultation, and routinely works with the local EHO on behalf of the kitchen ventilation consultant to arrive at the most suitable solution. This means that the burden is taken away from the consultant when gaining an EHO’s approval, and also provides peace of mind that the odour, smoke and grease control strategy has been taken care of.

If a specialist is not involved with the EHO from the start, there is the risk that a new project will not gain planning approval first time round. This results in a delay to starting on site, loss of revenue and also a lot of time wasted that could have been used more productively elsewhere.

Perhaps even more damaging is to existing trading businesses’ where – following a complaint – they will have a set time period to implement a grease, smoke and odour strategy, and if they do not they will incur fines or even closure. At the very least, in these circumstances the restaurateur is distracted from what they do best – cooking great food.

One trend is the increase in residential dwellings in urban areas. A kitchen may pass the necessary regulations when initially fitted out but complaints start to arise as new residents move in. One recent example we have seen was a high street restaurant which had operated for 30 years, but then received complaints from residents occupying a newly built apartment block. The local council soon served a 70-day notice on the owner to rectify the situation or face closure. The owner did not initially consult a specialist, spent thousands of pounds on the extraction system and still did not resolve the problem due to incorrect selection of equipment”

So how can the kitchen ventilation consultant ensure that a project progresses in line with Local Authority Guidelines? There are a number of areas which should be considered right at the start of a project in order to avoid issues and delays.

  • Extraction rate – for new build projects, the extraction rate is determined by the equipment served as per DW/172 however it is well worth checking that the extraction rate in existing installations is still suitable for the equipment installed. Remember that it is vital to size the equipment according to volume flow rate, so this needs to be right.
  • Nature of the cooking – based on the menu, what is the likely mix of grease, smoke and odour in the kitchen extraction air? This will determine the equipment choice.
  • Low level extraction – with the correct equipment choice it is now possible to extract at low level when it is not possible to get planning permission for eaves level extraction; it can also be more cost effective to extract at low level both at installation stage and for ongoing maintenance access
  • Residential areas – is the site in or near to residential areas? Or are there plans in the future to build residential dwellings in the area? The presence of such ‘receptors’ will impact on the odour control strategy.
  • Fire risk – has a fire risk associated with grease build-up in the kitchen ventilation system been considered, and suitable grease control provision been included? By implementing the correct equipment, it is possible to dramatically reduce the ongoing cost of duct cleaning and maintenance of in-duct equipment.

The EHO’s job is vital but can create challenges for the kitchen ventilation consultant if they are not properly prepared. In the increasingly common area of grease, smoke and odour control, a lack of preparation or consultation with a specialist like Plasma Clean can delay or prevent planning consent, or in an existing restaurant can even threaten closure.

To arrange a free consultation, contact Plasma Clean who will provide specialist expertise and guidance on the most appropriate grease, smoke and odour solution for your kitchen project.

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