PITTSBURGH (TNS) — Chris Galarza remembers working as a chef in restaurants where the thermometer in his pocket could easily reach 135 degrees.
Sometimes, it gets very hot in the kitchen, like the gas burners firing, which makes the staff tired.
Gas stoves are not only common but often preferred in the cooking industry because they are easy to control the flame and temperature.
It wasn’t until 2015, when Galarza was part of a project to develop the first all-electric, sustainable kitchen at Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus in Richland, that he worked with induction stoves. The project set him on a new path.
“I can’t imagine going back to working with gas,” Galarza said. “It’s like, once you drive a car, why would you want to drive a horse and carriage.”
A debate about gas safety erupted after the Consumer Product Safety Commission last week said it would consider regulating indoor air pollution from gas stoves. Some within the commission suggested banning gas stoves.
In the past few years, some municipalities have passed bans on natural gas appliances.
But the comments from the CPSC have become the latest touchpoint for the culture war, with some people declaring they won’t give away their gas stoves — even though any regulations won’t affect the existing appliances – and the industry groups that defend the affordability and safety of gas appliances.
However, more homes in the United States in 2020 have electric ranges — about 68% compared to 38% with gas stoves, according to 2020 data from the Energy Information Administration. In Pennsylvania, the numbers are similar, with about 66% electric and 38% gas. Some homes may have more than one stove.
Organizations such as the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers note that there is more to the issue than just one type of fuel versus another.
“Banning gas cooking appliances will eliminate an affordable and preferred technology used in (about) 40% of homes nationwide,” said Jill Notini, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based trade organization. DC. “A ban would fail to address the general concern of indoor air quality while cooking because all forms of cooking, regardless of the heat source, generate air pollutants, especially at high temperature.
“Focusing on increased use of ventilation is an effective solution to improve indoor air quality while cooking.”
The Green Building Alliance, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that encourages sustainable design, also noted the tradeoffs that come with converting to induction models.
Keep in mind that not every building or home has the same needs. The goal of making a building less expensive in power may not have the same solutions as making it healthier for its workers or residents, according to Chris Cieslak, chief executive officer of operation.
A local institution has experience in renovating its commercial kitchens.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens built its Botany Hall Kitchen to feature induction stoves and other elements that promote sustainability.
“Since we have a major focus on human health, it is important for us to create a kitchen that can use all electrical appliances for cooking food,” said Richard Piacentini, president and CEO.
Pittsburgh-based Fukui Architects is leading the Botany Hall project, which cost about $500,000. The space is intended to serve as a facility for community cooking classes and related courses. The first class was held in 2018.
Now, the Oakland conservatory goes for a round with its Cafe kitchen, with help from Galarza.
In 2019, Galarza started a Penn Hills-based consulting company called Forward Dining Solutions, which focuses on helping commercial kitchens transform electrical appliances. It’s a change that’s not only better for the environment but also better for the mental and physical health of workers, he said.
At Phipps, Galarza is part of the team that will “electrify our kitchen,” Piacentini said.
After people got the hang of the new technology, guests embraced it, Botany Hall Kitchen manager Tess Monks said.
“Because induction is so new, some of our chefs have a learning curve when they arrive,” Monks said. “Most chefs get things right away and are always impressed with the speed and efficiency.”
“Having induction technology allows us to cook more food faster while keeping the kitchen temperature comfortable,” Monks added. “I couldn’t imagine running the caliber of youth program we offer in the kitchen if we were working with gas and an open flame.”
Some people are always devoted to their gas stoves. But for those interested in something new, there are tradeoffs to consider.
“It’s a much bigger conversation than a gas stove,” said Cieslak of the Green Building Alliance. “It’s not just about the air pollutants from the gas stove. You get that from the grease from an electric stove. But there are additional benefits to switching to induction, such as lower air conditioning costs because stoves generate less heat.”
That makes the environment better for workers, Cieslak said.
He calls the consideration process “beneficial electrification.”
“You get electrocuted when and if it makes sense,” he said. “If you have a relatively young natural gas stove, it may not be the most appropriate time to bring in a $3,000 induction stove. grid than now. Those things improve over time. “
He noted that in his own house, he has a 12-year-old gas stove and a 10-year-old water heater.
“It’s about what I can do next, how I can do it and how I can pay for it,” he said.
Cieslak said there are resources and organizations to help people decide what’s right for them and what grants and tax deductions are available.