Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded LEED Gold certification to a Riverside, California McDonald’s, making it the fourth of the chain’s locations to earn such an honor from the non-profit trade organization.
According to literature available on the USGBC website, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) Green Building Rating System awards points for implementing specific construction and design elements, as well as technologies, that “promote healthful, durable, affordable, and environmentally sound practices.” These points are earned for accomplishments in each of seven pre-defined categories, such as “Indoor Environmental Quality” and “Water Efficiency.”
En route to earning enough points for a Gold certification — the second-highest level, below Platinum — the franchisee-owned McDonald’s at 2242 University Avenue in Riverside boasts accomplishments in five of these categories. Included among the building’s environmentally conscious features are methods for reduced water consumption, a solar array, LED lighting, specialized plants and landscaping, and recycled materials used in insulation, windows, tile, and even the wood paneling surrounding the dining area.
The restaurant, located less than three miles from the University of California at Riverside campus, follows three other McDonald’s locations that have earned LEED certifications. The first, a McDonald’s near McKinley Park in Chicago, Illinois, earned its Gold status in 2009 using similar methods. According to website GreenBeanChicago, the restaurant also utilizes reflective concrete (for its drive-thru lanes), water-collection and heat-recovery systems, a “green roof,” and “paints and cleaning chemicals…chosen for their low environmental impact.”
McDonald’s locations in North Carolina and Georgia soon followed suit, earning their own LEED certifications. In addition, the company renovated its corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois in order to earn a Platinum-level certification. Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the overhaul took only six weeks and $150,000 to complete.
While McDonald’s corporate headquarters garnered the USGBC’s highest certification, none of its restaurant locations has. Fast casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, however, earned Platinum certification for its Gurnee, Illinois location — the first restaurant to do so. Last fall, a combination KFC-Taco Bell in Indianapolis, Indiana earned parent company YUM! Brands its latest LEED Gold certification. Other popular food chains with LEED-certified locations include Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Arby’s, Starbucks, and Pizza Fusion.