Denny’s Goes Green in Joliet

by | Aug 27, 2009

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leedcreditsThe new Denny’s restaurant in Joliet, Illinois, is the restaurant chain’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified restaurant, reports the Chicago Tribune. One of the biggest savings achieved was in water use, which reduced the restaurant’s water and sewer connection fees by $25,000, making the cost almost negligible, according to the newspaper.

Joey Terrell, Denny’s restaurant co-owner, said in the article it’s a rigorous process that required 4,000 pages of documentation and a $5,000 fee for the review process. However, Terrell noted that the restaurant cost less than $1 million to build, which is less than what construction of a new Denny’s typically costs.

Just a handful of U.S. restaurants have attained the LEED ranking, including one McDonald’s in Chicago. The numbers are low because restaurants are huge energy consumers and consume nearly three times more than an average commercial building, according to the Energy Information Administration, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Some of the things Terrell has done smarter in the new restaurant includes using a fryer that allows the oil to be recycled three times to cook different products before being picked up for use as biofuel and other purposes. The fridge was placed next to the freezer to take advantage of the latter’s subzero temperature, and the roof is covered in a white seal coating so sunlight is reflected, which takes less energy to cool, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The highlight of the restaurant is four 4-by-4-foot skylights that use mirrors to bring in natural light into the 150-seat dining room, which were built in Downstate Arthur by Amish craftsmen, who used no electricity, according to the newspaper.

Other green features include using 80- to 100-percent recycled materials for the ceiling, drywall and ceramic tiles; motion sensors to turn lights on and off in restrooms and storage rooms, and Energy Star rated appliances.

Terrell told the Chicago Tribune that he plans to renovate his Mokena location next year to meet LEED standards. He says it only makes financial sense because the Joliet operation is costing him $10,000 less a month to operate than his 20-year-old Mokena location.

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