19 Aug '11, 6pm
How a More Intelligent Kitchen Hood Launched a $100 Million Green Business @OnEarthMag
Steve Melink was on top of a Chili’s one sweltering day, working on its HVAC (heating, ventilation, & air conditioning) system, when he noticed the kitchen pumping out cool air. Astounded by the wasteful use of air conditioning, he investigated the system and discovered that the kitchen fans used to disperse cooking steam and smoke had done their job and then some: the fans that had been left on continued to pump out clean, cool air, causing the air conditioners to ramp up production -- and energy consumption. Upon investigating the problem, he realized there was a lack of knowledge about the inefficient energy use. But rather than launch a nationwide campaign to educate cooks, he developed a global technology -- the Intelli-hood -- that senses the concentration of fumes in the kitchen and adjusts its hood vent fan accordingly.