This is a quick blog post full of info that will make you a hero and, hopefully, make your job a lot easier. I had the honor of presenting at both the Higher Ed Facilities Forum and the K12 Facilities Forum this year. Since the conferences were right across the hall from each other, the commute was great, but I was so busy that I didn’t get to meet everyone and share all my info. So, let’s do that now.

For some quick background, I’m an engineer and the director of outreach at the Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) located in Northern California. The FSTC team spent the last 35 years studying energy and water use in commercial kitchens and I’ve been there for 34 of those years. I really enjoy my job!



Here's what I want to share with you: In 35 years of work, we have managed to create a huge amount of useful information and several really good rebate programs. Why should you care? Because educators are the biggest foodservice operators and most every school has a kitchen. And, right now, schools are under a lot of pressure to modernize, expand menus, cut carbon, and serve more meals with less staff – while also suddenly receiving a lot of government infrastructure dollars.

Kitchens are already challenging enough for facilities folks, without adding all these new complexities. This is where our 35 years of knowledge can make your job easier.

I like to joke that I have “millions of dollars and decades of knowledge to give away, with no strings attached.” It’s a great pitch and it sounds too good to be true, but that's really what’s going on. We created a California Energy Wise food service program in partnership with California’s big utilities and a website that is the key to all our resources.


California Energy Wise


On the website you will find everything from info on how to perform site energy surveys to design guides, a suite of online educational seminars, simple payback calculators, rebate info, and a list of hundreds of pieces of energy-efficient cooking, holding, refrigeration, and sanitation equipment.

Let’s say your school has a mandate to cut carbon and they have set goals for net zero carbon in the next decade or so. You are also being told that your school wants to reduce the amount of disposable food containers, which means adding reusable dishware and dishwashers, and the foodservice director wants to offer more farm-to-table meals to an ever more diverse student population. Rethermed pizza just ain’t cutting it anymore.

To top it all off, you know that the school can’t add any more headcount to operate all this new equipment. As a facility professional, everyone is looking to you to help transform the kitchens as old equipment breaks or becomes too expensive to maintain. Now is when you get to be a hero!

Seminars-California Energy Wise

On this website, you will find several short online classes including the Kitchen of the Future, Kitchen Decarbonization, Induction Cooking, Hot Water and Dishmachines, and most important of all, Combination Ovens.

From these classes you learn that combination ovens are the killer, programmable, self-cleaning cooking technology that will help your school increase production without having to hire more cooks. You also learn that induction cooking and holding is ready for prime time and that this technology will help your school cut labor, decrease food waste, and create more comfortable kitchens. You learn that heat-recovery dishmachines are going to make it a lot easier to add dishwashing in kitchens with challenging hot water delivery, and you find out that replacing older natural gas ovens with new high-efficiency ovens is a super cost-effective way to cut your emissions by over 50% while also producing more food. Decades of knowledge – all for free!

What next? How to take action? Now it’s time to talk to the Purchasing folks and convince them to approve spending for this more efficient and effective equipment. That’s where the rebates come in. If you are in California, Nevada, Washington, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Maine, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire, then you can take advantage of the Instant Rebates program. (If you are outside of these states, check with your utility as there are many other rebate programs across the U.S.)

The Instant Rebates are given right at the point of purchase so there’s no paperwork and the rebate, shown as a discount on the invoice, goes directly towards reducing the cost of purchase. The rebates are generous and are designed to cover any incremental cost for better equipment. If Purchasing needs more convincing, then you fire up the simple ROI calculators and show the thousands of dollars the school will save in energy costs over the lifespan of the equipment.




But there’s still the question of how to spec that more effective equipment. That’s where the rebate lists come in handy. The Qualifying Products list is your shopping list. Not only does this list include language that you can use in your specs, it’s also the master database of all the efficient equipment that should be in your kitchens. If you have any questions about the Instant Rebates, there’s a team of experts ready to assist you if you call (714) 787-1098 or email

There you have it. That’s the info I wanted to share with you. Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your valuable time. If you have questions, you can reach me at and I hope to see you in person again at future Influence Group events!                  

Posted by

Join us at the K12 Facilities Forum!

The community for district and facilities leaders
Nov 10-12, 2024 | Tempe, AZ

Learn More



Subscribe to our twice monthly newsletter

Learn about the latest innovations in school facilities planning, design, construction & operations.

Get it in your inbox ;)