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Innovation in Food and Beverage – lessons from Diageo on Brewhouse 4


With the global food and beverage industry accounting for approximately 10% of the world's GDP (Plunkett Research, 2017), there is little doubt that it is an important and thriving sector.

It is a highly competitive industry, with tightly regulated quality standards, and significant emphasis placed on innovation. This in turn necessitates manufacturing facilities of the highest standard for producers operating within the sector.

One of Linesight’s landmark projects in the sector was Diageo’s Brewhouse 4 at the world-famous St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin. The facility is one of the most technologically advanced breweries in the world, and was awarded the highest achievable rankings in terms of sustainability. The project’s success is largely attributable to the client and project team’s adoption of innovation throughout the project. Below, we look at the key innovations associated with Brewhouse 4, which can be applied to other projects within the sector globally.

Project background

As only the fourth brewhouse to be built on the St James’s Gate site in Dublin during its 255 year history, Brewhouse 4 presented a unique challenge for the Client and design team, as brewing never stopped during construction, such is the demand for the ‘black stuff’ worldwide.

Linesight was appointed to support Diageo on Cost and Procurement for the delivery of the new brewhouse and fermentation block at St. James's Gate. Completed in summer 2014, it was one of the largest construction projects to take place in Dublin in recent years, and created in excess of 1,000 construction jobs.

Key project statistics:

  • Capital spend in excess of €200m
  • 10,000 sq.m.
  • New brewhouse and BBA facility delivered with combined output of 8.2 million hectoliters per annum
  • Raw material handling processing 500 tonnes of malt barley per day, or the equivalent of 200 acres of Irish grain
  • Extension to existing fermentation plant comprising 27 new fermentation vessels up to 26m tall and 6m diameter with a storage capacity 14.26 million pints

1. Zero accidents and zero incidents = Zero Harm

The purpose of the ‘Zero Harm Culture’ model was to create, a consistent proactive culture for safety across all operations. By measuring, understanding and actively developing the prevailing safety culture on Brewhouse 4, it fostered a set of shared values leading to an ultimate vision that ‘Everyone goes home safe, every day, everywhere’.

‘Zero Harm’ is based on four pillars: prevention, culture, compliance and capability. It required a partnership between individual employees, managers, and the business as a whole to achieve the objectives of each pillar.

Key strategies used on Brewhouse 4 under the Zero Harm initiative included:

  • Golden month system
  • Setting clear goals and communicating them
  • Pre-conditioning of contractors
  • Town hall meetings on safety
  • Mind safety – behavioral-based safety 
    • Understand why we act in a particular way
    • Change bad habits 
    • Acquire new better habits and work practices 
    • 20 second scan to appreciate the immediate risks in our environment 
    • Safe ‘T’ boards 
    • Incident reporting, safety forums and text alerts

The result was that the accident frequency rate was at one tenth of the industry average on Brewhouse 4, which is a remarkable achievement.


2. Zero defects

The ‘Zero Defects’ program was followed from the start, with Diageo taking from the validation process used by the pharmaceutical industry to ensure zero defects. The process starts with user requirements specification, followed by design qualification. The design is then checked against the user requirements and when installed, an installation qualification is followed to confirm that it has been installed in accordance with that design.

A sample room in an adjacent building became the ‘zero defect’ room where live mock-ups of all of the key elements were constructed. This room had three functions; it got the contractor to achieve what was required, it showed the client what they were getting and also served to train contractors as to what was needed. The zero defect system allowed all parties to walk away from the project at completion without the need for costly return visits.

3. Zero business interruption – logistic integration with live operational facility on a fast-track program

An extremely tight deadline of 14 months called for efficient and effective strategic thinking.

Some of the areas in which this was particularly successful included:

  • Planning permission – obtained in the absolute minimum legal time (including the requirement to rezone part of the site)
  • Design – high quality design by RKD Architects. The project was designed to maximize pre-fabrication. A ‘roof off’ option was designed to install the process in a controlled and efficient manner
  • Procurement – Linesight managed the fast-track procurement strategy. Sisk were the main contractors on the site, and all the process vendors engaged directly with Diageo. All contractors executed co-operation and collaboration agreements
  • Schedule – detailed schedules were prepared from the onset, and monitored/updated throughout. Milestone handover dates were contractual, with bonus payments for success
  • Maintain ‘live’ operation – a fundamental part of the project was maintaining ‘live’ operations. Logistics were managed impeccably and operations were controlled, to ensure seamless progression from construction through commissioning into commercial operation

4. Value for money – on budget

Linesight supported Diageo with the Management of the budget.  It was important that the project was adaptable to changes in scope as works progressed. Linesight had a full-time change manager on the project. The Change Manager’s key task was to support Diageo to ensure that no additional change to quality, cost or program was allowable without a change order signed by Diageo in advance.

This was a highly successful strategy, and gave Diageo full oversight of the decision-making process.

Other significant innovations in this area included:

  • Low-cost sourcing – sourcing material from overseas to obtain savings (i.e. Chinese granite cladding)
  • Procurement – clear pre-qualification and RFP requirements resulted in detailed design in advance of tender. Clear contractual terms and conditions were also laid out
  • Value Engineering – Linesight supported Diageo with Value Engineering, to ensure a quality outcome for the right price
  • Risk Management – conducted throughout in order to plan for, mitigate and eliminate risk 
Diageo-Brewhouse-01 Web

 5. Sustainability – state-of-the-art facility; the most energy efficient of its kind

Brewhouse 4 ultimately achieved LEED Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding status, the highest achievable rankings. The process involved full engagement with United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and Building Research Establishment (BRE).

The building itself is carbon neutral, the first and only non-domestic building in the Republic of Ireland to achieve the top Building Energy Rating (BER), A1.

The team adopted the Energy Efficient Design (EED) methodology to design, construct and manage the project, in order to achieve minimum energy consumption, and it was the key to reducing energy usage during the operational phase. In turn, capital cost savings were achieved in both utilities and processes, while CO2 emissions were reduced significantly.

The very high score in energy credit count, combined with other sustainability initiatives, contributed to the LEED Platinum Certificate and the BREEAM Outstanding Certificate. There were also many other credits that were achieved through the commitment of the design team and construction team.

The main highlights were;

  • 'Zero waste to landfill’ policy at commencement, and succeeded in diverting 100% of the construction waste generated on-site from landfill
  • Through responsible sourcing of materials, 14.45% of the total building materials were manufactured using recycled materials. In addition 20.24% of the total building materials value includes materials and products that have been manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the project site
  • An improvement of 100.26% above the requirements of local building regulations and is considered carbon neutral, achieving a BER rating of A1 - the first such rating for a non-domestic building
  • Over 100% of the total energy costs offset, by using renewable energy generated on-site
  • Brewhouse 4 is the first major brewery in the world, and the first manufacturing plant in Ireland, to achieve the highest award possible for LEED
  • Uses 14% less water to make a brew than it took prior to this project


Diageo drove innovation and hired a top-class team for this project. It was delivered on budget and on time, and it is one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable breweries in the world. The Linesight team was awarded individual medals of recognition following the completion of the project by Diageo, to reflect its exemplary performance. Many of the innovations and insights from the Diageo project can be drawn upon for future Food and Beverage developments, with this facility having been recognized as exceptional and industry-leading.

For further information on this project please contact Stephen Ashe, on or +353(1) 6614711. 


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