CHR – Champion of Sustainability

CHR Equipment roared over the finishing line at the CEDA Grand Prix Awards, taking the laurels for its sustainable kitchen installation. Kathy Bowry reports.


Catering equipment distributors are the frontline of fit-for-purpose commercial kitchen design. These guys don’t just sell kit, they specify and project-manage complete installations from the smallest restaurant to multi-million pound fit outs.


The annual Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA) Grand Prix Awards recognise excellence in the world of the catering equipment distributor. A category for sustainability was introduced in recent years and this year’s winner, CHR Equipment, scooped the award for its refurbishment of the kitchen at Cadbury World, which has improved efficiency and productivity while reducing energy consumption by 35 per cent.


The Lancashire-based specialist is headed up by Ron Neville, founder and CEO, who says: “The brief to CHR for the Cadbury World kitchen, which provides an average 900 meals a day, was to design a new £200,000 kitchen that would meet today’s requirements in terms of energy usage in peak times whilst still maintaining production. CHR also had to optimise cleaning efficiency, improve storage and ventilation and reduce heat emissions and improve the workflow through the kitchen.”


Neville explains what had to be done: “The kitchen was approximately 20 years old and had evolved rather been designed. It had poor extraction, poor wall and floor finishes and the equipment itself, mostly gas, was old and inefficient meaning equipment service costs were high. On top of this, cleaning was very difficult, there was lack of storage and poor use of space.”


It was clear that a total redesign of the catering facility was needed. The catering office was moved to a redundant sandwich area to free up space for a new dry store area and a new deep freeze room supplied by Williams refrigeration. Ceilings were renewed and a total overhaul of the electrical system was affected. A resin compound floor in the kitchen area with a lifetime guarantee of at least 10 years and Altro Whiterock was specified for the walls for a hygienic wipe down finish with stainless steel cladding to the rear of the cookline.


Having sorted out the shell of the kitchen CHR then turned to the equipment. A decision was made to use all-electrical equipment with a minimum life span of 10 to 15 years, to reduce air-flow required through ventilation and to use Induction and reactive grills to maximise energy usage.


Ventilation-wise, reducing the air flow meant smaller fans, which means less air input reducing the fuel requirements not only on the running of the fans but drastically reducing the energy consumption of tempered input air into the kitchen.


Sample of air savings


Extract Rate 1.386 m3/sec New System

Supply Rate 1.18 m3/sec New System

Extract Rate 1.933 m3/sec Old System

Supply rate 1.364 m3/sec Old System

Approx 35 per cent reduction


Two large combination ovens with a load of 18kW each were replaced by three MKN combi ovens with a total load of 21 kW, which not only reduces the energy consumption by 45 per cent but enables staff to produce food in small batches, allowing them to react to customer demand in the visitors restaurant. “Now they can cook small batches to just-in-time, so no need for cook- chill and sous vide. For the customer, the advantage is food that is freshly cooked and for the operator there is now no need to cook early and hold for the rush – plus there is 25 per cent kilowattage has been taken off the load, saving energy and cost,” says Neville.


The use of MKN induction and reactive grills also shows large savings in energy, less cleaning time is required as all equipment has seamless tops and are mounted on plinths. Use of a MKN cook marie and MKN griddle pan means less usage of pans and therefore less washing up. “Why is that a good thing? asks Nevile, “because less washing up means less water and energy usage.”


Trac was approached to provide bespoke fabrication – anywhere in a domestic kitchen you would have wood, CHR has used stainless steel. “We also asked them to mount all equipment on plinths to aid cleaning. Now cleaning takes 20 minutes at the end of service when before it took two hours,” says Neville.


Trac also manufactured units with built in refrigeration – mainly drawers which again helps the energy efficiencies “as they maintain temperature with constant opening and closing better than doors,” explains Neville, “and all refrigeration is remotely placed on the outside wall facing north so that minimum effort from the compressor is required.”


Neville has this advice for operators looking at sustainable kitchen makeover.


“A sustainable installation is not all about the equipment. To achieve your BREAM mark there is a lot more involved. Road miles for contractors are also taken into account. For this project we hired floor layers, ceiling fitters, plumbers and electricians who were no more than a 20-minute ride away. It is easy to specify new energy efficient equipment but always remember it has to be the whole job that is sustainable.


“Perhaps the most important advice I can give is to take a longer view and look at the life time cost of an installation. If we want to cut emissions and save costs – which we must to survive – operators and stakeholders have to realise that short termism is not going to work. Opting for the cheapest kit because the sustainable option seems too expensive initially will cost more in the end. Budget setters must take this on board and plan for five, 15 – even 20 years – rather than budget yearly. The cost saving will more than pay for a sustainable installation over time.”


Peter Kay, managing director of CEDA agrees, saying: “It is a fact that our members find most customers to be interested in sustainability issues. However, when it comes to purchasing new equipment, many of them are still more concerned about the cost of buying rather than the cost of owning. It is an important part of the service that members offer to try to guide a customer to consider the running cost savings that can be made by investing in a product which may have a higher initial capital cost, but which will save them money by reducing energy consumption or other utilities such as water or detergent.”


Last word has to go to a triumphant Ron Neville: “The sustainability award at the Grand Prix Awards is the most prestigious, and we were up against some very big players, which amplifies our achievement. It says a lot for our team that we have been recognised by industry leaders three years in succession (although this is the first time for sustainability), and each time for a different aspect, demonstrating our ability, consistency and versatility.”


• Founded 20 years ago, CHR Equipment ( has built an enviable reputation for consistently delivering practical solutions, applying innovative thinking and utilising developments in technology to create commercial catering solutions on time and to budget whether new build or refurbishment of a hotel or college through to the upper echelons of Michelin- starred establishments and stadia. Its clients include Lancashire County Cricket Club, The Star @ Harome, Holiday Inn, BMW, and Premier League headquarters.