Chicago-based Ross Barney Architects has given the iconic McDonald’s at Walt Disney World Resort a sustainable makeover. This revamp aims to make McDonald’s Disney flagship the first net-zero energy quick-service restaurant. Topped with a canopy clad in solar panels, the energy-efficient building takes on a new, contemporary form that strategically responds to Orlando’s hot and humid climate. In addition to generating renewable energy on-site, the restaurant reduces its energy footprint by using natural ventilation and operable windows that open and close in response to outdoor humidity and temperature sensors. 

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a wide shot of a McDonald's restaurant with a sloped, v-shaped roof. a yellow "M" hangs from the edge of an overhang on the building, which features a facade of wood slats.

“We were really interested in taking advantage of the climate in Florida, which is most of the year is fantastic,” said Carol Ross Barney, design principal at Ross Barney Architects.

a side view of a McDonald's restaurant with a sloped, v-shaped roof. free-standing solar panels surround the building.

Completed earlier this year, McDonald’s new solar-powered Disney location represents the company’s commitment to building a better future through “Scale for Good,” an initiative that seeks to minimize McDonald’s building impact and embraces the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s operates over 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries around the world and serves 69 million people every day. The company has pledged to prevent 150 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2030 — a reduction of 36% from a 2015 base year. 

Related: Cantilevered Green Shield Protects McDonalds’ Customers from Adjacent Fuel Station

a side view of a McDonald's restaurant with a sloped, v-shaped roof. the building features a facade of wood slats. one wall of the exterior is covered in greenery.

The renovated McDonald’s Disney restaurant serves as an inspiring sustainable steward with its thoughtful architectural design and educational focus. Interior wall graphics, interactive video content and games unique to McDonald’s Disney World location help teach visitors of all ages how to become more dedicated environment stewards at a variety of levels.

the interior of the McDonald's with white industrial designs and lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. people walk through the restaurant, two of them wearing face masks.

To meet net-zero energy targets, the eatery features 18,727 square feet of photovoltaic panels, 4,809 square feet of glazing integrated photovoltaic panels (BiPV) and 25 off-grid parking lot lights that, in total, provide more energy than the restaurant uses. The building and kitchen systems have also been optimized for energy efficiency, while natural ventilation is prioritized for roughly 65% of the year. 

+ Ross Barney Architects

Images by Kate Joyce Studios