LEED Gold In McDonald’s Golden Arches?

When it comes to LEED green building certification, everyone, it seems, is getting in on the act – from residential homes to schools, campus buildings, hospitals and manufacturing facilities. (Recently, even the Empire State Building greened its operations via the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance certification.) Now McDonald’s, that notorious purveyor of cheap, decidedly non-sustainable American cuisine, is stacking up green certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council for a handful of its restaurants.

A McDonald’s restaurant in Riverside, Calif., is the latest to have been awarded LEED Gold certification for its various green features. The restaurant, at 2242 University Ave., is the first McDonald’s west of the Mississippi to gain this honor – putting the “Gold” in the Golden Arches – and the fourth in the U.S. to do so. (The other LEED-certified Mickey D’s are in Cary, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and Chicago.)

mcdonald's leed gold

image via McDonald's

Scoff all you want, greenies. This McDonald’s may not yet feature sustainable, locally grown produce, grassfed beef and free-range chicken – and isn’t likely to any time soon – but it does feature a solar photovoltaic array that saves the restaurant around 8,950 kilowatt-hours (kWH) per month in electricity, equal to the power bill of 13 average Riverside homes. Other notable green features include low-E glass windows and LED lighting, which, together, have helped the location net an additional energy savings of 2,870 kWH per month, equal to the usage of another four local homes. Recycled denim used in the restaurant’s insulation further helps to reduce its heating and cooling bills.

As in most other green building projects, water conservation was also a focus, with low-low plumbing fixtures installed, and native, drought tolerant plants used to reduce water consumption by landscape irrigation systems. All told, these features save the operation approximately 250,000 gallons of water per year, equal to the water of eight 20-foot by 40-foot swimming pools.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.