Fitting out your restaurant can be a costly project – but did you know that including a few practical, low cost measures can reduce the running cost of your business? By working together with your designer and your building contractor, there are a number of steps you can take during the fit-out phase to reduce not only your environmental impact but also your overall energy consumption.

The design of your restaurant can have a sizeable impact not only on your fit-out costs, but on your day to day running costs. Here we give you some ideas for a more sustainable approach to design…

    • Why not ask your designer to incorporate recycled, reused and renewable materials into your design. This will not only reduce the carbon footprint of the build, but will also ensure that materials have a “second life” after you are finished with them.
    • Installing automatic doors can help to minimize heat transmission, air leakage and cold air infiltration by ensuring that doors remain closed when not in use. If automatic doors are outside of your budget and you’re retaining your existing manual doors then it’s worthwhile considering a design which includes a small lobby at your entrance to protect your interior from external weather conditions. This will also reduce the need for a heat curtain above your entrance doors.
    • If operating over multiple floors, ask your designer to carefully consider the placement and design of your staircase, to promote the use of stairs over lifts.
    • Ask your designer to suggest ways in which natural daylight can be incorporated into your design, reducing the need for artificial lighting.
    • Include some natural landscape garden planting around your site, and consider including some secure cycle parking into your exterior plan for staff or customers who choose to travel by bike.
    • Incorporate external awnings and canopies into your design to reduce the amount of solar gain during summer months and keep your interior cool in warmer weather. If it’s not possible to install a canopy or awning, solar film applied to windows can reduce the amount of heat which penetrates glazing around your site

A responsible building contractor should be as committed to sustainability as you are. But did you know that your building contractor can also help you to save money in the long term by checking the fabric of your building to ensure you achieve maximum efficiency? Ask them to incorporate some of the following into your fit-out project…

    • Ensure that your building reaches its optimum performance by asking your builder to check that any existing insulation has been correctly installed, and to the correct standards.
    • Ask your builder to check that your building is well sealed, checking for gaps under doors or above walls which may allow cold air to penetrate into your interior space.
    • Wherever possible, ensure that double glazing is installed around your building to optimise your energy usage. Windows can be expensive to replace, but if highlighted during your lease negotiations this may be something your landlord is willing to make contribution towards.
    • Ask your builder to ensure that all timber used in your project is responsibly sourced and carries the FSC mark – an international organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests.
    • Ensure that only qualified and certified experts commission and maintain your heating and cooling systems. This will lead to significant savings in energy and can also prolong the lifespan of your equipment.
    • Why not ask your builder to sign up to the Considerate Contractors Scheme? This certification encourages builders to seek sustainable solutions by minimising waste, carbon footprint and natural resources. Your builder should also produce a waste management plan to ensure that as much construction waste as possible is diverted from landfill.

Introducing low energy technology into your fit out may require a small additional spend up front, but will certainly offer energy savings in the long run. To reduce your running costs, why not consider incorporating some of the following ideas into your restaurant…


    • Wherever possible aim to install LED lighting, which can be up to 80% more efficient than traditional fluorescent and halogen lights.
    • Separate your building into “control zones” to ensure that energy is not being wasted in areas not in use. Occupancy Sensors can also be used for low traffic areas such as storerooms and staff toilets.
    • Encourage natural light into interior spaces by keeping windows free from obstructions. You can also consider installing a daylight sensor which activates lighting near to windows only when it’s dark outside.
    • Consider the use of photo-sensor cells, so that external lighting is not accidentally left on during the day, and your interior perimeter lighting is automatically switched off when it’s sunny outside.


    • Reduce the water consumption in your staff and customer toilets by installing waterless urinals, or low flush toilets or dual flush systems. You can also ask your plumber to source reduced flow taps and low water consumption sanitary ware.
    • Replace any damaged or missing insulation from hot water system boilers and pipework to ensure maximum energy efficiency.
    • Consider Rainwater Harvesting for activities where clean water is not essential, such as flushing toilets, watering plants or maintaining your landscaping.

Heating & Cooling

    • Ask your builder to check any existing ductwork for air leakage, and to ensure that the system is well sealed to ensure maximum efficiency of your HVAC system.
    • Speak to your maintenance contractor about cleaning the coils on any condensing units, and ask them to replace the filters in your heating and air conditioning systems regularly to ensure maximum efficiency.
    • Ask your builder to replace any damaged or missing ductwork insulation, which will ensure that optimum temperatures are maintained.
    • Finally, consider replacing any heating or cooling systems which are over 15 years’ old. This may be a considerable outlay during the fit-out stage; however, it will certainly pay you back in energy efficiency and savings across the years. Your landlord may also contribute to the cost of this type of building improvement, so it’s worthwhile negotiating this as part of your long-term lease.

Finally – as a responsible business you should also consider purchasing your energy from a renewable source. Wind, wave, marine and hydropower are available in the UK, so ask your energy supplier about making the switch.

Interested to know more about how you can increase the energy efficiency of your restaurant? Why not get in touch…