How to… green your fit-out

13 July 2012
How to… green your fit-out

An increasing number of restaurant operators take their environmental credentials seriously, but until now we have struggled to measure the environmental impact of fitting out or refurbishing restaurants. This is a serious blind spot for a dynamic industry, which regularly re-fits and typically expands by taking space in existing buildings.

To address this, RICS launched the Ska Rating for Retail and Restaurants earlier this year. Based on the successful Offices version, Ska assesses areas such as energy consumption, CO2 emissions, waste, water and material use to award a gold, silver or bronze rating. The tool rates the environmental impact of the fit-out regardless of the base building, and is specifically targeted to fill the gap left by existing environmental measures like BREEAM, which measure the whole building's environmental performance.

Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca's branch at Bluewater Shopping Centre has already achieved a silver award, and co-founder Mark Selby is determined to go for gold for his next unit.

"Restaurant operators worry about the cost of green fit-outs," he says. "But Ska proves that if you're clever and get good designers involved from the beginning, it needn't cost you more. We've always been as environmentally friendly as possible in our operations - recycling food, drink and glass. Ska gives us the methodology and benchmarks to extend these green ideals to our fit-outs.

"Ska encourages you to focus on the right things. It makes sense because it's realistic. You can accept that you can't do everything because you're not dealing with a new building, but it helps you to make the right decisions on a project basis."

Ska for Retail and Restaurants was created with a team of development partners, including Whitbread, Royal Bank of Scotland, Green Room Retail, contractor ISG, AECOM, Gardiner & Theobald, Dalen Strategies, the Association of Interiors Specialists and the National Association of Shopfitters.

Pilot teams report that Ska Rating has delivered benefits across a broad spectrum, enabling them to engage employees, strengthen brand image and achieve substantial savings in both financial and environmental terms. Specifically, reductions in energy costs of up to 31% and reductions of waste sent to landfill of up to 99% have been reported, which have had a subsequent positive impact on these businesses' bottom lines.
Tim Robinson is director of the Information Products Group at RICS


1Start early It is essential to get buy-in from all members of the design and construction team at the earliest stages of a project. Early integration of sustainability will ensure success and minimise any increase in capital costs.

2Collaborate Ska Retail sets targets for waste, energy, water and materials. These can be led by clients who instruct their designers and contractors to achieve them.

3Innovative design Fresh thinking is important to deliver sustainable results but that does not have to mean complexity. The simpler designs, which are not resource-intensive, are often the most sustainable. New products are entering the market almost daily - from energy-efficient solutions to products with high recycled content, enabling designers to challenge the status quo.

4Strive for best practice Reduction of resource consumption is the key to sustainability within a fit-out. Always aim to achieve better than good practice in water, energy and recycled content. This offers savings in energy and cost throughout the life of the restaurant as well as during the fit-out process.

5Responsibility Each member of the team should take responsibility for their element of design or actual construction. This has to be led very much by the client. A successful approach will engage the fit-out team and enhance your CSR, inspiring staff and customers to buy in to the green agenda.

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