LSFB Continues to Gain Popularity in SA
Restaurant group McDonald’s South Africa is changing the way it builds its restaurants and has, according to McDonald’s South Africa MD Greg Solomon, embarked on rolling out sustainable light steel frame building (LSFB) restaurants across the country. In June 2013, McDonald’s opened its LSFB restaurant in Goodwood, Cape Town, making it the first LSF informal restaurant of its kind in South Africa.
He says new McDonald’s restaurants will be built using LSFB and energy efficient cladding and insulation systems. “The decision stems from McDonald’s South Africa’s philosophy of supporting sustainable building methods as far as design, energy efficiency and the efficient use of natural light is concerned,” Solomon says.
Using LSFB to construct the McDonald’s restaurant in Goodwood, reduced material wastage by 30% and transport costs by 80%. The carbon footprint of the building was also significantly reduced.
“McDonald’s was also able to reduce construction time, opening the outlet four months earlier, compared with the time it would have taken if a more traditional building method was used,” he says. Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (SASFA) director John Barnard states that one of the main advantages of LSFB is that the McDonald’s restaurants built in this fashion will cool down and reheat faster than conventional buildings, increasing the comfort levels of its customers.
“LSFB is definitely much more energy efficient than more traditional construction methods – not only with regard to the ‘embodied energy’ of the materials and components, but also with the ‘operational energy’ relating to the heating and cooling of the building over its design life,” he says.
Moreover, Barnard says an LSF building will require less than half of the energy needed to heat and cool a masonry residential building to comfortable indoor temperatures, referencing the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s report by T Kumirai and Dr D Conradie, titled ‘A predictive comparative thermal performance analysis for light steel frame and masonry residential buildings.’, published in July 2011.
Building, mechanical and electrical engineering services provider Silverline Group, a SASFA member, built the McDonald’s LSF building in Goodwood. Project manager and co-owner of the Silverline Group franchise, Robbie Meyer, has previous experience with LSFB, in the US, and says using LSFB has resulted in cost savings and the acceleration of the construction process. “After casting the concrete for the foundations and then the lower floor, the erection of the wall frames, floor joists and the first floor were completed in four weeks. The wall cladding was then installed with fibre cement board on the outside, with glass-wool insulation in the wall cavities, followed by 15 mm fire-resistant gypsum board on the inside,” he explains.
Further, Meyer says, while the internal walls were cladded, steel sheeting was installed on the first floor to act as shuttering for the in situ cast lightweight concrete floor. Silverline completed the entire shell of the building, including internal walls and exterior painting, in just two months.
Roadworks and the installation of kitchen equipment took another month, which amounted to a total construction period of only three months.
“A comparable double-storey building using traditional construction methods would have taken at least seven months”, says Silverline Group MD Charl van Zyl. At the official opening of the building, in Goodwood, McDonald’s South Africa’s management team said they were astounded by the speed of construction and satisfied with the quality of the finishes. Even before this project was fully completed, Silverline Group started the next McDonald’s outlet in Silver Lakes, Pretoria, using a similar floor plan and structure.
Van Zyl says the company is planning to complete the project in three months and may even finish a week earlier, owing to what was learnt from the previous project.
Barnard says the speed of construction, while maintaining quality, is one of the biggest factors in the meteoric growth of the LSFB method in South Africa: “LSFB is erected quickly and once it is in place, the builder can enclose the building, which means that internal finishes, such as partitions, ceiling grids, tiling and painting, as well as the installation of services, can start sooner.”
Barnard adds that the method also allows different disciplines to work concurrently. He is confident that the LSFB industry has sufficient profiling capacity, on a single-shaft basis, for building to cover about 3.5 million square metres of floor area a year in South Africa. Further, he says there is more than enough available capacity for the mass production of high-strength, galvanised or zinc-aluminium-coated steel sheet in South Africa.
“Even if a significant boom in the use of LSF were to occur in South Africa, it could be imported in a short time,” adds Barnard. He says the main challenges facing the LSFB industry is convincing the skilled professionals, such as architects, engineers and builders, to accept the building method as a mainstream construction solution, as it has already been accepted in many other parts of the world such as the US and the UK.
“SASFA is continuously undertaking educational programmes to train these professionals to understand the advantages of LSFB and highlight the ways in which the building industry is evolving,” he concludes.