McDonald’s Goes Green | LEED Certified + Electric Vehicle Charging Technology | August 18, 2009 | By The Brainchild Group

McDonald’s, one of the companies I considered far from being green (given their food), is actually turning my thoughts around and proving me wrong. Yes — it happens sometimes — I am proven wrong. Not so often, but sometimes. :)

One of the company’s first moves in being green involved opening its first LEED-certified restaurant in Chicago, which was a big feat. This location is to serve as a “learning lab” to help better McDonald’s locations across the world by testing various green products for functionality before implementing them on a large scale. Smart move.

The LEED-certified McDonald’s, the first LEED-certified fast food restaurant in Chicago, features a wide array of eco-friendly goodies. For one, the location sports Unilock permeable pavers on the parking lot, which allows maximum water drainage and durability. Use of permeable pavers will reduce the cost of the onsite drainage system, clean surface stormwater and minimize stormwater runoff. Secondly, the restaurant’s outdoor signage uses a wide variety of LED lights (or light emitting diodes). These bulbs last ten to twenty times longer than standard bulbs and require less than 50% of the energy required to power a traditional incandescent bulb.

The Chicago location, surprisingly, features green landscaping with native, rugged plants that require considerably less watering. Combined with the landscaping, there’s a living roof that funnels rainwater into large collectors that also house excess condensation from the HVAC system. What a novel idea! According to Green Bean Chicago, “The highlight of the landscaping effort is a rain garden, which promotes natural sheet draining of rain water and ultimately serves to recharge the aquifer deep below the surface of the soil. The rain garden will also scrub pollutants out of water that drains from the drive-through lanes, which may carry automobile pollutants. Overall, the company is hoping for a 50 percent reduction in water use through these sustainable techniques.”

And, just when you thought the end was near, I’ll provide you with another slap in the face — there are solar tube skylights throughout the entire restaurant. A fast food restaurant with an airy, open, bright feel? Bring it on! Most light is generated via these tubes and there is a complex electronic system that monitors the amount of light being emitted from the tubes and compensates with artificial lighting when needed.

McDonald’s next green step, which took place about a week ago, was to install electric charging stations for electric vehicles at their Cary, North Carolina location. This is the first location to have an electric charging station, though there will be many more to come. Lastly, the Cary, NC location will also boast LED signage, solar tubes and other green features.

Moral of the story: don’t think twice about eating at McDonald’s — with a little exercise you can feel comfortable supporting their franchise. Ultimately, they’re supporting the planet earth.


(McDonald’s LED signage at Piccadilly Circus in London, England.)

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