Sustainable fit-out at Nando’s new restaurant is a recipe for success


Nando’s has been awarded a SKA Gold Rating for its new ‘next-generation’ restaurant in Cambridge. Project Manager Anthony Probert shares how the key ingredients were hard work, effective collaboration and a commitment to sustainability

In summer 2015, a team from Nando’s came to visit us at our Brighton office. They had a vision: to build their most sustainable restaurant on a piece of brownfield land in Cambridge. They wanted to get our thoughts on how they might achieve it.

Since then, Bioregional has been supporting Nando’s in designing, building and fitting out one of the greenest restaurants in the country.

In March 2017, the restaurant opened and it achieved RICS SKA Gold, which is the highest possible sustainable fit-out rating. To reach this, we concentrated on maximising sustainability across three main areas of the design and build:

Sustainable fit-out

Careful procurement was key for this. For example, we needed to find a supplier that could provide recycled Perspex signage to exactly meet the Nando’s colour specification. The interior designers (Fusion DNA) found upcycled timber products for ceiling features, vanity cabinets and counter tops. The remainder of the timber (joinery, doors, tabletops and flooring) is 100% FSC.

All chairs are upcycled and wool and nettle fibres were used to upholster booth seating. A couple of the most popular features include lightshades made out of papier maché and even mycelium (mushrooms!).

Nando’s worked with Dext to design a heat-recovery unit taking heat from the grill and providing heating for hot water and the supply air into the restaurant. All lights are LED, hand-dryers are energy efficient and taps and staff showers are low-flow. A Building Management System (BMS) closely monitors all electrical loads and provides easy-to-read consumption reports.

Low-impact design

Embedding sustainability into the design brief was key, and architect Urban Edge was fully committed to taking every opportunity to enhance sustainability. The walls and roof of the restaurant are constructed from timber cassettes, with a glulam timber frame exposed in areas as part of decoration, locking up to 58 tonnes of carbon.

The roof features Cumbrian sheep’s wool insulation to keep diners warm and greener concrete with a 57% cement replacement product (GGBS) was used in the foundations. A green external wall and roof provides a home for local species to boost biodiversity.  

150m2 solar panels on the roof generates some of its electricity needs, with the rest provided by hydropower and anaerobic digestion via Bulb, a renewable UK gas and electricity supplier. With extremely low U-values (the lower the value, the better the material is as a heat insulator) and efficient services, the building achieves EPC rating of A.

Green and local construction

We helped the main contractor, Key Property Solutions, maintain a low-impact construction site. 95% construction waste was reused or recycled (compared to an industry average of 67%) and we achieved a 20% reduction in vehicle movements onsite.

There was also a commitment to supporting people and the local community – 68% of spend on the project was with small and medium businesses and 100% of construction workers received the living wage. Two local charities were supported during construction, including an East Anglian Children’s Hospice.

Achieving SKA Gold is a challenge. The project team had to work closely together – and sometimes outside their comfort zone. My recommendations for similar projects would be to keep a close eye on efficiently managing effort and resources to achieve your targets. It’s also important to have one person responsible for delivery, as well as making sure you have top-level support for achieving sustainability.

We are proud to have supported Nando’s to achieve such impressive environmental credentials, demonstrated by the reduction in carbon emissions, the SKA Gold Rating and an A-rated EPA. It’s also great to see a commitment to the social side of sustainability, which is an important part of our work with One Planet Living.

And I didn’t even mention the chillies being grown in the lobby. Can’t get much more local than that!

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