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Efficient examplars special, part 1: RDA’s university education

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RDA’s Cranfield University outfit included a demanding sustainability element.

In the first of a special two-part focus on commercial kitchen schemes which stand out for utilising cutting edge technology to enable a high level of efficiency, we put RDA’s project at Cranfield Management Development Centre, part of Cranfield University, under the microscope.

The distributor was engaged to redesign, supply and install a new main production kitchen at the site. The conference centre has 186 bedrooms and a wide array of conference and business services.

The existing kitchen was a 510m2 space in need of updating and featuring lots of wasted space. The brief called for a smaller, more operationally sound facility which would work as a restaurant kitchen as well as handling conferences, banquets and events simultaneously. The chefs required more storage space and shorter travel times, as well as an unobstructed view across the whole kitchen from the office space. The staff mess facilities also needed updating, as did the refrigerated space.

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There was a demanding sustainability element to the brief, and an environmental officer from the university was involved throughout the process. His role was to assess the sustainability credentials of the equipment and suppliers used in the fitout and to establish how this fitted into the ’big sustainability picture’ of the whole conference centre site.

Ruth Boote, senior designer at RDA, detailed: “The choice of equipment was particularly important – we took out the old, energy-guzzling equipment and replaced it with brand new, energy efficient models from our trusted team of suppliers.”

The chefs were involved throughout the selection process, attending demo days organised by RDA at different manufacturers so that they could make an informed decision about the best pieces for their needs.

“At RDA, we abide by an environmental code of practice and only work with sustainable supply chain operators,” said Boote. “As such, we guided the client to make the most energy efficient choices while still meeting their budget constraints.”

The client’s final selection included a dishwasher by Maidaid with a heat exchange function. For the cooking suite, MKN supplied and welded a bespoke unit onsite including induction cooktops, and equal weighting was given to energy efficiency and functionality throughout. Rational provided the steam combination ovens as well as the VarioCookingCenter multifunctional appliance which achieves the same results as several separate pieces of equipment but using up to 40% less energy. Williams supplied the refrigeration.

Boote emphasised: “Clients are certainly expecting more in terms of sustainability. It used to be the exception in a brief, but in the last few years it’s certainly become the norm.”

RDA is seeing clients in a range of different sectors – but particularly hospitality and education – upping their sustainability ante. Boote added: “Just this month I’ve been working on a project for a client in the education sector with exacting energy efficiency requirements. I drew on my experience from the Cranfield project to shortlist a range of equipment that would save energy, as well as running costs, in the long-term.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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