McDonald’s, Margaritas Invest in Eco Strategies to Reduce Costs

by | Aug 25, 2009

foundingfarmersrestaurantRestaurants are making big investments in improving energy efficiency as well as adding conservation and sustainability measures to reduce costs. Some of these initiatives include “green” roofs, lighting retrofits and water conservation.

As an example, McDonald’s made a $2 million investment in its first environmentally friendly restaurant in Central America that is aimed at improvements in energy efficiency and conservation, reports The Tico Times. The restaurant also will implement sustainable practices to limit waste and conserve water.

The restaurant, located in Lindora, Santa Ana, features a green roof, where water is captured and routed through a cleaning tank and purified so it can be reused, reports The Tico Times. The green roof, together with several large polarized windows, is also used to cool the interior of the restaurant.

Other conservation efforts include the use of fluorescent light bulbs, an “intelligent” lighting system, and a recycling system. McDonald’s plans to seek USBGC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

McDonald’s also has environmentally friendly restaurants in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Chicago, among other locations.

Another restaurant chain, Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, is focused on energy-saving lighting retrofits. Based on a utility audited energy savings at its Exeter, New Hampshire location after its conversion to Array LEDs, the restaurant chain plans to expand its lighting retrofits to additional locations as part of its companywide energy-saving and environmental initiative.

The restaurant chain said it has realized significant savings from retrofitting traditional 65-watt incandescent lamps to 7.8-watt LED replacement lamps. In addition, rebates helped offset some of the costs of the retrofit project.

Other restaurants are focused on sustainable farming, in addition to making their restaurants as eco-friendly as possible.

As an example, North Dakota Farmers’ Union (NDFU) is promoting sustainable farming by establishing its own restaurant, reports Lancaster Farming. So far, NDFU and a group of investors have launched two restaurants — Agraria in Georgetown and Founding Farmers near George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The restaurants serve food produced with no chemical fertilizers, hormones, and “limited” antibiotics, reports Lancaster Farming. In addition, Founding Farmers is the first upscale-casual, full-service restaurant in the U.S. to have achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, according to the article.

The restaurant was also one of the  inaugural winners of the Association for Retail Environments’ (A.R.E) Sustainability Awards. Almost the entire 8,500-square-foot restaurant is built out of recycled materials. Founding Farmers also uses Energy Star appliances, LED light fixtures, LEED HVAC systems for reduced energy usage and they purchase carbon offsets for the remainder, reports Lancaster Farming.

Founding Farmers said in the article that it pays about two-thirds less for gas and water than other similar sized restaurants, which allows them to pay more to sustainable farmers for their food.

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