The Net Zero on Campus: From Principles to Action initiative, a collaborative effort between SDSN, the Climateworks Centre, and Monash University, aims to facilitate the sharing of lessons and resources to accelerate the decarbonization of university campuses around the world. The initiative consists of a “how-to” guide and accompanying online toolkit that will enable universities to accelerate the planning and implementation of net zero strategies, and act as living laboratories for testing solutions.

The Reading University was introduced to the Cheetah system in 2020 as a result of an engineering doctoral thesis entitled “Energy Reduction in Commercial Food Preparation” undertaken recently at the university. This is a case study on the impact on energy usage after installing the Cheetah System from Quintex.

Originally published at

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What is the case study trying to accomplish?

Cheetah is a demand-controlled kitchen ventilation (DCKV) system. It works by controlling ventilation fan speeds to match extract rates with cooking demands, thereby optimizing energy use. The fans are set to a minimum speed as default, but as smoke, high temperatures in ducts, low air flow in ducts, and high levels of carbon dioxide in the kitchen are detected, demand based extraction automatically increases.

Reading University conducted surveys across 6 restaurants at their Whiteknights campus. The hospitality teams at the university supported its installation and initially a trial period for the system was agreed. The supply and extract fans of the trial kitchen ventilation system were monitored for a period with the Cheetah Energy Control system, and the same period without. The results of the initial study were very positive with an average daily energy saving of 97.79 kWh per day from the fans at one site. The Cheetah System was then rolled out. Crucially, the teams were specifically hoping to achieve significant savings in the heating of associated supply air. Monitoring of this was included alongside the fan energy use at the installation of the systems to provide energy savings reports. These show an average of 57% energy reductions from supply and extract fans across the installations and a 30% reduction in the energy required from battery-heating of the supply air.

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What were the key success factors in implementing the case study?

While the key driving factors for the university and its hospitality teams are carbon emissions reductions (and this project saved the equivalent of the energy consumption of over 45 average UK homes), very attractive simple payback periods of 0.71-1.43 years were also established.

The installation of the demand-controlled ventilation systems have been an exciting and successful collaboration between industry, developers, estates, hospitality, maintenance and sustainability teams and even the universities own doctoral graduate. The university is now aiming to embark upon innovative heat recovery systems from its catering facilities.

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What were the challenges or barriers you had to overcome in implementing your initiative?

There are always challenges implementing new technical systems in a large organization. Demand controlled ventilation systems throttle fan speed and Cheetah is unique in its use of optical sensors detecting cooking activity. Staff can be inclined to override the system when air flow is perceived to be “too low.” This was overcome by providing staff with training in appropriate controls and providing an appreciation of the energy, cost, and emissions saving potential from such a system.

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