October 03, 2011
So much is in flux these days, itís hard to stay informed, let alone have some influence on whatís going on. You canít be everywhere at once.
Which is where industry associations come in. One of the great things about being at FER is that we get a ringside seat at a lot of meetings that eventually shape the industry. And it makes you realize how important industry input really is. Without the associations contributing long hard hours to a lot of projects, this would be a very different business marked by total confusion and probably a lot of burn marks.
Consider, for example, the development of the recently unveiled NAFEM-ASTM Sustainability Calculator. A joint project, the calculator was developed by engineers from both organizations to measure environmental impacts of products based on their materials, manufacturing processes, packaging, disposal processes and more. Neither group couldíve pulled it off alone, but together the pooled information made it work. Who could possibly make educated decisions on environmental impact without the diligent work of the people who made this Excel-based tool possible?
The Sustainability Calculator actually works very well in tandem with the Life Cycle/Total Cost of Ownership Tools, also Excel based, also developed jointly by the two organizations a couple years back. This calculator does what it says, offering a way to calculate costs for initial purchase, utility and maintenance costs, disposal, etc. You can check out both Sustainability and Life Cycle tools by starting at nafem.org/information-resources/EquipmentCareMaintenance.aspx.
Earlier this year, at The NAFEM Show, we sat in as the ASTM F-26 Food Service Equipment Committee convened to tackle a variety of topics from reviewing the time/temp curve for plate sanitizing to EPA proposals to reduce gals./rack and idle-energy rates in Energy Star standards. Committee members also discussed problems with the Green Construction Code not harmonizing with Energy Star and a variety of other sticky wickets dogging foodservice equipment and facilities. Not to mention the various subcommittees maintaining and monitoring standardized test methods for some three dozen equipment categories. Many of us have jobs that rise and fall on these types of meetings.
ASHRAE also contributes a lot of knowledge to foodservice, and not just in HVAC per se. ASHRAE recently updated an agreement with the Department of Energy to help in the development of more efficient next-gen refrigerants. The results will cascade into all kinds of applications.
And then, of course, there are the uncounted numbers of topics NAFEMís Technical Liaison Committee rides herd on day in and day out. We write about them often. The group, which meets twice a year, tackled at the May meeting numerous topics with far-reaching impact. One point of concern was the variability of Btu content in natural gas around the country. Too low has obvious implications for food safety, cook times, efficiency, etc. On the flip side, Btu rates have been abnormally high in some areas, and what does that mean for burners and reliability and safety? Not to mention cook times.
Among other hot bits at that meeting: jurisdictions considering regulating nitrogen oxide emissions, European energy labeling requirements kicking in next month, material bans in various countries, and a host of code changes around the country related to ventilation. Too many topics to list all of them.
So if you want to steer your own future, pitch in where you can. Thereís plenty going on, and the associations depend on all of us.