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One of the main advantages of LSFB is that McDonald’s restaurants built in this fashion will cool down and warm up faster than with conventional buildings, increasing the comfort levels of its customers.

McDonald’s South Africa is changing the way it builds its restaurants and has embarked on rolling out sustainable light steel frame building (LSFB) restaurants across the country. This is according to Greg Solomon, McDonald’s South Africa’s managing director.

McDonald’s opened its first steel frame restaurant in Goodwood, Cape Town on 29 June 2013, making it the first LSF informal ‘eating-out’ restaurant of this kind in South Africa.

“We will continue to improve, evolve and pioneer,” says Solomon. “The new restaurants are built using light steel frames (LSF) and energy efficient cladding and insulation systems. This decision stems from our philosophy to support sustainable building methods as far as design, energy efficiency and the optimal use of natural light is concerned,” he says.


By using LSFB on this building, material wastage was reduced by 30%, transport costs by 80% and the carbon footprint was significantly reduced. On top of this, McDonald’s was able to cut back the construction period required, opening the outlet four months earlier than if more traditional building methods had been used.

One of the main advantages of LSFB is that McDonald’s restaurants built in this fashion will cool down and warm up faster than with conventional buildings, increasing the comfort levels of its customers.

The Silverline Group, a SASFA member, built the McDonald’s LSF building in Goodwood, Cape Town. After careful planning, they started on site in mid-March 2013. Project manager and co-owner of the Silverline Group franchise, Robbie Meyer, who had previous experience with LSFB in the USA, knew the benefit of detailed planning and meticulous design and he was able to optimise the light steel structure to save costs and speed up construction.

After casting the concrete for the foundations and then the lower floor, the wall frames and floor joists were erected and the first floor was completed in four weeks. The wall cladding was then installed: fibre cement board on the outside, with glass-wool insulation in the wall cavities, followed by 15mm fire resistant gypsum board on the inside. While internal walls were being clad, 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 a mere two months. Road works and the installation of kitchen equipment took a further month, to give 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 Charl van Zyl, managing director of the Silverline Group. “Moreover, the project ran very smoothly indeed. We actually enjoyed the process!”

At the official opening of the building McDonald’s said that they were astounded by the speed of construction, and were very 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. They are again planning to finish the project in two months, and may even shave a further week off the construction time!


The speed of construction, while still maintaining quality, is one of the biggest factors in the meteoric growth of the LSFB method in South Africa. The lightweight steel frame goes up quickly and once it is in place you can enclose the building. That means that internal finishes, such as partitions, ceiling grids, tiling and painting, as well as the installation of services, can start sooner.

The method also saves time because it allows different disciplines to work concurrently. It is not necessary to wait for a completed facade before finalising accurate measurements for windows, for example. Window apertures can be agreed upfront with the glass and aluminium contractor, even before the light steel frame walling is installed, since the system is extremely accurate. With lightweight steel one can work to a tolerance of ±5mm.

McDonald’s has invested in many sustainability measures in its restaurants over the past two years, which have included building design, making sure that natural solar light and heat complement a minimum air-conditioning design, which is part of a programme Solomon refers to as “Project Green and Growing”. This visionary programme targets a 20% saving in water consumption, a 20% saving on electricity consumption, 20% saving on costs and 20% saving on construction time as the brand continues on its strong growth path.

“It is our responsibility to lead in this way as a big corporate, and we understand the importance of sustainable business practices to minimise our impact on the environment. We are very excited to roll out these new LSF restaurants,” he concluded.


Source: Steel Construction Vol. 37 No. 4 2013

Article supplied by Silverline Group

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