Nando’s ‘fit-out guide’ puts project managers on the pathway to green practices

Nando’s is challenging its restaurants to become as sustainable as possible by following a dedicated ‘Green Fit-Out Guide’ that serves as a best practice template for its burgeoning UK estate.

The 400-strong chain believes that up to 50 restaurants a year could achieve the standards set out in the guide, which covers a range of areas that include its kitchen platforms and infrastructure.

The guide has been compiled by Nando’s in-house sustainability team following the construction of a purpose-built, brownfield site restaurant in Cambridge, where energy efficient equipment and practices are trialled.

The Cambridge side boasts RICS SKA Gold accreditation, which is the highest possible rating for a sustainable fit-out project. New technologies, materials and ways of working are all tested and tracked at Cambridge, with a view to successful initiatives being implemented elsewhere in the estate.

Head of sustainability, Henry Unwin, explained: “The thing with Cambridge is that it is a complete waste of time if it is a standalone green initiative, so we have been reviewing all of the work we have put into it to create what we call a ‘Green Fit-Out Guide’. Every restaurant that we open, and every restaurant that we refurbish, will aim to hit the standard of this new guide. That’s pretty much 50 restaurants a year, because we will open between 20 and 25 and we will refurbish another 20 to 25. It won’t take us long for the whole of our estate to go through that refurbishment cycle.”

Unwin admits the firm has been “fairly ambitious” when it comes to compiling the guide. It addresses everything that could possibly go into equipping a restaurant, right down to the materials and fibres used in its interiors to the type of tiles on the walls. Water-consuming equipment must be low-flow and contain features that minimise water usage, while heat recovery techniques have been applied to recycle energy.

Project managers involved in developing new Nando’s sites are given a copy of the Green Fit-Out Guide, but rather than being obliged to follow it to a tee at this stage, they are encouraged to proceed as they normally would but score themselves against it, Mr Unwin revealed.

“The idea of this is that we can benchmark where we are at and understand if it’s easy for them to go and do it, and if it’s not then we want to know why it is difficult and what we need to make happen to enable them to implement that. We don’t want to start saying, ‘oh we have done this amazing thing in Cambridge and everything is going to be exactly like that only to find that actually the low level canopy is causing people to keep hitting their heads on it after a year of operation and it’s a nightmare to clean.”

Nando’s is continuously working to a series of sustainability targets, but one of the most important right now is its goal of becoming a low carbon business.

It has opened 24 restaurants since Cambridge was launched and they are all run by 100% renewable electricity. By the end of this year it is aiming for all of its restaurants to switch to a renewable energy contract.

“That will be a huge step for us because it represents 19% of our carbon footprint. We are moving across to renewable energy but I suppose before that it is all the stuff around being more efficient with the energy that we do use. We have been 100% LED for years and years now.”

The full interview with Henry Unwin features in the July issue of FEJ, available as a free digital edition HERE.

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