McDonald’s is probably near the bottom of the list of transnational corporations that support the environment and human health. But among the 35,000 McDonalds restaurants, there are a few independently minded franchise owners seeking to right the corporation’s environmental reputation. Recently, one of them became the first to open a LEED Gold certified McDonalds in the state of North Carolina.
His name is Ric Richards and this is his first LEED Gold McDonalds, but his second that has been LEED certified. The new facility repurposes or reuses 99 percent of the materials from the existing McDonalds building demolished at the site, which earned it a big chunk of LEED points off the bat. There is an array of solar panels on the roof, electric car charging stations outside, and the landscaping makes use of exclusively drought tolerant plants.
When they walk in the door, patrons of this McDonalds will be met with green and brown décor, LED lighting, solar tube skylights and giant ‘reduce, recycle, reuse’ banners hanging from the ceiling. Employees will be composting food waste behind the counter and customers will have the opportunity to do the same. Informative signage is incorporated throughout the building, educating the McDonalds crowd on the meaning of the various green features and making sure they know the difference between organic waste and trash.
Richards’ eco-McDonalds are part of a larger corporate initiative to build 25 LEED-certified restaurants over the next three years. It’s hard to classify the motives behind the effort — is it a pure marketing attempt to clean up the company’s image with a few token projects now that green buildings and organic food have gone mainstream? Or is it the first signs of a paradigm change within the corporation that symbolizes low health and environmental standards more than any other? The former is probably a safer bet than the latter but, still, it doesn’t hurt to introduce the concept of green building to a few of the 68 million people that McDonald’s serves daily.
Images Via QA Graphics