Fast Food


Fast FoodFast food restaurants serve food to diners who order at a counter and eat seated at tables or booths, unless they order at the drive-in window for take-out instead. Typically, plastic plates, cups, and utensils are used. Fast food restaurants have a limited menu of food and drink choices. These facilities only include an eating area, plus the associated food storage, preparation, and cooking areas, usually open to view from the eating areas.


Fast food restaurants frequently pose comfort issues such as:

  • Extremely variable loads with high peaks in energy demand
  • High sensible and latent heat gains due to people, food preparation, and presentation, as well as any gas venting requirements
  • Potential for unbalanced air flow conditions in areas adjacent to kitchens
  • Air flow should be from the eating areas into the kitchen area to avoid odor contamination and heat migration during hot weather
  • Heavy influx of outdoor air through entrances, especially during peak hours

Typical System

Most are stand-alone restaurants and typically utilize air-cooled rooftop equipment. Ideally, the systems are designed with one unit serving each zone. Restaurants located in larger buildings may be tied into the building's chilled/hot water system. In many cases, due to their operating hours not coinciding with that of the building, they may have separate systems serving only their needs. They may be water-cooled where cooling tower water is available, otherwise, they are usually air-cooled due to the lower maintenance required.

Energy Saving Recommendations

Be alert to expansion needs and the potential replacement of old and/or inefficient HVAC and refrigeration equipment with new, efficient units. On new installations, consider integrating HVAC and refrigeration into a geothermal heat pump system.

Drive Through


In the Quick Service Dining category, which includes lunchrooms, cafeterias, snack bars, fast food chains, and coffee shops, the emphasis is on speed.

These facilities generally have higher illumination levels, and the lighting is uniform throughout the dining area. This creates a feeling of economy and efficiency. Besides incandescent lamps, triphosphor, and compact fluorescents are good choices.

Recessed fluorescent fixtures combined with pendant mounted fixtures over the tables often provide a nice touch of decor, as do indirect fluorescent fixtures such as cove or soffit lighting. Use accent lighting sparingly, if at all.

Additional Information:

System Design
Duct Systems
Commercial Cooking
Commercial Refrigeration

Related Topics