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KFC branch makes its mark with LEED Retail certification

by Zuerita
KFC branch makes its mark with LEED Retail certification

KFC Newmarket set a new benchmark in early 2019, when it received a prestigious LEED certification under the LEED 2009 for Retail – New Construction tool. This project was used as a test case project to update the baseline specification for all KFC branches.

“KFC is as committed to the planet, as we are to our food and customers, and to running our business sustainably in more than 22 000 restaurants in over 135 countries around the world,” says Femi Enigbokan, chief development officer at KFC Africa.

“Our approach is no different in South Africa. Designing, building and operating green buildings in accordance with global best practice – to drive reductions in energy consumption and GHG emissions – is something we have adopted wherever possible. At Yum! we have also created a green building standard called Blueline, which is aligned with LEED and encourages environmentally sustainable practices in our business.”

Setting the benchmark in terms of accreditation

The KFC Newmarket restaurant’s adoption of sustainable building practices, particularly when it comes to electrical and HVAC features, has been key. These features have set a standard that can be adopted or referred to as best practice in the development of holistic green buildings in the future.

The LEED certification process for KFC Newmarket was undertaken by Solid Green Consulting. Gavin Westbrook of Solid Green explains that a strict process of waste, erosion and sedimentation control was implemented during construction – a process that proved to be new for the main contractor and the earthworks contractor, and therefore challenging in terms of compliance and documentation.

With a floor area of just under 310m², the project uses 31,5% less water than a baseline building through the use of low-flow fittings and efficient kitchen equipment. A third of the site is dedicated to vegetation, which does not have any permanent irrigation systems installed. The project had originally looked at using captured rainwater for irrigation, but xeriscaping turned out to be a more efficient design decision as it avoided the need for the water tanks, controls and pumps required for an irrigation system.

This project was used as a test case project to update the baseline specification for all KFC branches.

By using efficient lighting and HVAC systems, the project achieved a 33% energy saving over a baseline building. These systems were optimised using a “whole-building” design approach that included a highly reflective roof and shading to minimise solar heat gain. The project also has water tanks on the roof and a generator to ensure continuity of operations during service disruptions such as water cuts or load shedding.

Solutions to challenges

“The operation of all the systems was verified through the appointment of an independent commissioning agent, who checked the design and conducted on-site audits during the commissioning stages,” says Westbrook. “This process revealed that some of the lighting did not achieve the brightness levels required by both KFC and LEED. More and brighter lighting was added to the project after occupation and tested again to confirm compliance. This was one of the lessons learned, which will be applied to the base KFC design for other projects.”

Approach to LEED requirements

The project has higher than baseline delivery of fresh air into the occupied spaces and utilises low volatile organic compound (VOC) finishes. Westbrook explains that an Indoor Environmental Air Quality Plan (IEAQP) was implemented during construction to ensure the healthiest indoor air quality for occupants. The intention was to practice “good housekeeping” during construction with several strategies including:
• Preventing dust and construction debris from accumulating in HVAC ducts.
• Exhausting gas-fuelled construction equipment directly to the outside.
• Storing VOC-containing materials away from absorptive materials.
• Keeping a clean work site by sweeping, wet mopping and using low-VOC cleaners.

LEED requirements also ensure that no smoking happens in the building or in the immediate vicinity. “These are actually less rigorous than the legal requirement in South Africa, but the signage requirements are more stringent, so we needed to add more signage around the exterior of the building after completion in addition to the signage at the entrances, in order to achieve compliance,” emphasises Westbrook.

All the operational waste from the restaurant and kitchen will be sorted on site for recycling or disposal, including packaging, food waste and cooking oil.

More and brighter lighting was added to the project after occupation and tested again to confirm compliance. This was one of the lessons learned, which will be applied to the base KFC design for other projects.

Lessons learnt

“As with any project, there are always areas that can be improved upon,” Enigbokan comments. “For us, the materials and resources rating in our LEED certification is certainly one that we can improve on for our future builds.”

Westbrook adds that the project was a challenge for the design team as they needed to go through an iterative design process and get into the details of the materials specified far more than they are normally required to do. They believe that this has been a positive experience and will guide the implementation of sustainability principles and processes in KFC’s branches moving forward.

“We are extremely satisfied with the outcome of the project, which was delivered on time and within budget,” Enigbokan concludes. “More importantly, KFC Newmarket has contributed to our sustainability goals and helped us to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations. Given that KFC Africa develops 60 new restaurants per annum on average and remodels restaurants every five years, this is significant. The success of this project has set a benchmark for our new builds in South Africa, one that we can learn from and build on going forward.”

NAME:    KFC Newmarket
OWNER: Yum! Brands, Inc.
LOCATION: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
RATING SYSTEM: LEED 2009 for Retail – New Construction
GROSS FLOOR AREA: 307,10m²

Acknowledgement and thanks go to Solid Green Consulting for the information contained in this article.

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