Chick-fil-A Clucks About Its First LEED Green Outlet

Is there no corner of the built environment that has remained untouched by LEED certification? First a McDonald’s in Riverside, California, took LEED Gold for its efforts to green operations (including solar power and low-flow plumbing fixtures), and now Chick-fil-A has done the same in Fort Worth, Texas.

This Chick-fil-A, located in Montgomery Plaza, is the first to be built to LEED specifications — but make no mistake, big green things are in store for the Chick-fil-A chain, across the board.

Chick-fil-A LEED Montgomergy Plaza

image via Chick-fil-A

Not only has the company committed to building four more LEED-qualified restaurants in 2012, it plans to incorporate energy conservation measures and recycled materials into all of its new construction efforts from here on out; by the end of 2012, it expects to see over half of its 1,600+ restaurants nationwide receive energy and water retrofits. These enhancements are expected to result in significant cost savings for each restaurant.

The Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-A opened nearly a year ago, and will serve as a living laboratory as the company evaluates a variety of environmental initiatives as part of its overall growth strategy. The location’s sustainable features include low-flow fixtures and rainwater harvesting for use in landscape irrigation (resulting in 40 percent less water use than a typical Chick-fil-A), as well as  natural daylighting, courtesy of skylights and windows and energy efficient appliances (resulting in 14 percent less energy than it conventionally built brethren).

During construction, 50 percent of waste materials were diverted from the landfill through recycling or reuse, and 20 percent of all materials used in construction made use of recycled content. Low-VOC  materials were used throughout the project, and — in keeping with the company’s new, chain-wide green efforts –all cardboard and foam cups used in the everyday operations of the restaurant are recycled.

“Chick-fil-A is dedicated to demonstrating our commitment to the environment and the communities in which we operate,” said Senior Director of Environmental Stewardship Michael Garrison, in a statement. “We have learned so much at our living laboratory at Montgomery Plaza. It truly has enabled us to explore and refine our environmental stewardship practices to the point where we can now implement them in many of our restaurants nationwide.”

Dyed-in-the-wool eco-enthusiasts may cry (ahem) foul — citing, perhaps, the environmental degradation associated with intensive poultry farming, the source of all those boneless chicken breast sandwiches served up by Chick-fil-A every day, or the evils of fast food in general.  But as the nation’s second-largest fast food restaurant chain, the company’s planned energy and and water conservation measures in locations across the country will no doubt carry at least some positive environmental impact.

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.