News Brief

Code Becoming Friendlier to Kitchen Heat Recovery

Building codes restrict the use of many heat-recovery technologies from commercial kitchens due to fire risk, but recent code updates should make it easier to specify Halton’s Heat Recovery Unit.

Even though ASHRAE 90.1 requires heat recovery for exhaust exceeding 5,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm), commercial kitchen ventilation is exempt from these requirements due to fire risk from accumulated grease. International Mechanical Code (IMC) 514 also prohibited heat and energy recovery in commercial kitchens, but the International Code Council is getting set to change that with an amendment to the 2015 version of IMC section 514.

Commercial kitchens are among the most energy-intensive commercial spaces—with high-volume ventilation systems that operate constantly for long shifts to remove heat and fumes from open flames, ovens, deep fryers, and other equipment. Capturing the staggering amount of lost energy to heat make-up air and domestic hot water could be valuable if the fire hazard can be managed.

Jeff Martin, the developer of Halton’s Heat Recovery Unit (a 2010 BuildingGreen Top 10 product; see Recovering Heat from Commercial Kitchen Exhaust), argues that his closed-loop system, which removes grease from the exhaust before it can become a problem, should not fall under the same code rules as standard energy-recovery ventilation. Officials agreed, and IMC section 514 will allow use of the company’s system when the amendments become official sometime before 2015.

Published June 1, 2014

Ehrlich, B. (2014, June 1). Code Becoming Friendlier to Kitchen Heat Recovery . Retrieved from

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