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  • Writer's pictureJillian Stern

The Future of Kitchens is Electric, and Here's Why

Imagine a world overwhelmed with natural disasters like floods, forest fires, and hurricanes. Suppose there are drastic changes in weather, glaciers melting, and sea levels rising. Picture wildlife becoming extinct, along with species of plants and entire ecosystems meeting their ends.

There is no need for imagination, this is the reality for the one place we all call home.

Yep... Pretty scary...

The Climate Clock was born in 2018 (see above ... you may recognize it from large cities like NYC, USA; Seoul, South Korea; Glasgow, Scotland; and many more). Created by a multibackground power team, the purpose of the Climate Clock is to quantify climate change and promote awareness on the issue before we can’t fix the problem we started. With seven years and counting to amend this dilemma, it is necessary that we act globally to implement change. The mission of the Climate Clock is to inspire the masses to take action before the effects of climate change become irreversible, or “Act in time”.

Serious problems call for serious solutions. And some American companies are stepping up to the challenge. The Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 guides its efforts to build a better, smarter and more sustainable future. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health committed $800 million through 2030 to make its products more sustainable for a healthier planet. And, Microsoft is in the process of making changes to the infrastructure in its Redmond, WA, headquarters. We're going to focus on that last one because its related to foodservice and after all, that's what Quel's Corner is about.

In 2020, Microsoft announced that it is contributing to this movement at a grand scale taking steps toward becoming Carbon Negative. In short, carbon is the element that is getting trapped in our atmosphere (if you recall the greenhouse gas effect), that’s warming our planet and contributing to this crisis.

Microsoft’s President and Vice Chair Brad Smith writes, “If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic.”

In Pursuit of a LEED platinum certification, harmonious with its 2030 carbon negative promise in this new build, Microsoft is armed with a list of ways to tackle their goals. Working with experts across various industries and are revolutionizing the way that large-scale corporate kitchens can be made. Enter: The Electric Kitchen.

The 12,200 square foot, One Esterra Food Hall opened in March 2022 has the capability to serve more than1,000 meals daily. With over 5 years of thought put into this work, the foodservice operator learned how to adjust its recipes and cooking style to embrace this rather large fundamental and operational change in the kitchen. The team even created technologies that prior, were nonexistent! For example, the electric wok used in their Pacific Rim station took many alterations, but eventually, they achieved their goal. This transition from gas to electric woks alone resulted in a reduction of energy costs by 60% in this respective area. One Esterra’s Food Hall acts as a working test kitchen for a larger scaled project underway: a staggering 77,000 square foot location in their new East Campus, comprised of all electric kitchens.

Before all of the chefs reading this claim “Gas cooking is better!”, Microsoft states that, “Cooking saves time and effort by switching from gas to electric”. According to GreenBiz, Katie Ross, Senior Sustainability Program Manager for Global Real Estate and Facilities of Microsoft said, “The chefs were very important. We didn’t want to have this be a transition where the people who were responsible for delivering had their hands tied”. It will reduce energy usage, retain energy savings and reduce the company’s carbon footprint, to aid in their pledge to be carbon negative by 2030, and remove their historical carbon emissions in their entirety by 2050 (Brad Smith, Microsoft).

Recognizing that reducing carbon emissions is a time sensitive matter, NYC and California have already implemented laws that prohibit the use of gas in new builds, similar to Microsoft’s new electric kitchens. By 2045 the state of California is targeting to have all clean energy, and by 2035, in the city of Los Angeles (Sammy Roth, LA Times). According to Forbes, LA and NYC sit at the table of most influential cities in the world (mind you, there are only 10 seats at this table). I think it’s safe to say that at least some states are bound to follow suit? What do you think?

About Microsoft’s change to all electric kitchens, GreenBiz shared Ross’s enthusiasm, “We’re excited about the ripple effects this might have”.

We created a poll across 3 of our social media platforms (see below). After three days, all polls came to a close, informing us that most of our followers think Chicago, IL will be the next city to follow the trend.

Timing of meals and recipes may need to be altered, but if two of the biggest cities in the country are willing to convert with confidence, so can you. Starting in the kitchen, change can be made. Keeping up with the trends of the industry and the world are more important now that ever. There has been increasing popularity in ventless equipment, which is electric, and when looking to achieve LEED certification, elite|studio e specifies energy star certified equipment. With our experience and passionate staff, we are equipped to tackle this next challenge with you.

The team at elite|studio e is looking at revolutionizing concepts and the trajectory of the industry. If you’re thinking about hopping on the band wagon towards a more sustainable and secure future for this planet, are inspired by the Climate Clock, or you are building in NYC or California, don’t be daunted, or be overwhelmed by not knowing where to start. That’s what we’re here for. With our LEED Associates on staff, we can help you make strides towards more sustainable culinary solutions. Whether it be designs, or a concept to build completion, we are prepared to help you and our planet.

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