Pizza Restaurant Takes a Slice out of Energy Waste and Discomfort

Case Study

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Poor Ventilation and Airflow Impact Restaurant's Bottom Line

The owners of a popular pizza restaurant in Corvallis, Ore., experienced high energy bills and poor ventilation and airflow — a particularly vexing issue for businesses with commercial kitchens. Many culprits were to blame for these issues, including leaky and poorly insulated walls, large make-up and exhaust air openings from the venting system that serves the pizza oven, and a number of additional air supply and exhaust pathways that weren’t in service but nonetheless resulted in significant air leakage.

The restaurant owners knew that kitchen airflow imbalance could lead to sub-par building pressure, thousands of dollars a year in wasted energy, and customer and employee discomfort. They decided to make a change to avoid these potentially devastating consequences.

High-Performance HVAC Layers on the Efficiency, Airflow and Ventilation

After doing their research, the restaurant owners decided to upgrade the building’s heating and cooling followed by the ventilation system serving the dining area. Once complete, these two system upgrades combined to form a very high efficiency dedicated outside air system (also referred to as VHE DOAS).

DOAS applies the concept of separating heating and cooling from the ventilation system, which allows for optimal control of each of these critical building functions. The combined system installed by the restaurant improves this concept by focusing on efficiency and pairing a high efficiency heating and cooling system with a very high efficiency heat recovery ventilator (HRV). This combination results in:

  • Better indoor air quality due to filtered 100% outside air being brought into the space
  • Optimized indoor airflow in the dining area
  • Lower energy bills
  • Improved temperature precision and humidity control


Prior to the HVAC upgrades, the restaurant experienced high energy use relative to its building size due to the energy-draining pizza oven, an inadequate vent-hood system, and heavy reliance on hot water and refrigeration. While high, this level of whole-building energy use is typical of restaurants, especially take-out restaurants that don’t commit much floor space to dine-in customers.

Despite this, the HVAC upgrade still achieved a significant 8% reduction in total building energy use—equal to savings of 119 kBtu per square foot. In addition to the savings, the building owners have noticed an enormous improvement in overall building comfort during the hot summer months, and the introduction of proper ventilation to the building has dramatically improved the restaurant’s air quality for customers.

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