McDonald's Investigates Feasibility of Net Zero Restaurants

March 20, 2015

Study shows quick-service model can work with sustainable practices.

Looking to stay ahead of the energy efficiency trend, McDonald’s Corporation commissioned a study that shows the net zero energy (NZE) standard is achievable in quick-service restaurants.

The study was designed to be applicable globally but focused on three U.S. locations – Chicago, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. and determined that the NZE standard could be achieved without compromising service or menu options.

The study’s recommendations would require McDonald’s to improve the efficiency by up to 60% of a prototype restaurant designed in 2013. The gains would be achieved by using system synergies developed in the study to improve efficiency in kitchen equipment and restaurant HVAC. The remaining energy would be produced with a 300 kW photovoltaic system installed over the building and some parking spaces.

By using the two strategies together, the study’s authors, led by Ralph DiNola, CEO of New Buildings Institute, estimate that total energy costs could be reduced to as little as 5-15% of what the average U.S. restaurant currently spends on energy. Most of the increased capital costs would involve the on-site solar systems.

Wondering if net zero could work for your building? Take a look at this guide to learn more. 

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