McDonald’s explores net zero energy

Rocky Mountain Institute, Fisher Nickel Inc. and New Buildings Institute

A study prepared by Rocky Mountain Institute, Fisher Nickel Inc. and New Buildings Institute examines the technical and financial feasibility of achieving new net zero energy restaurants in Chicago, Orlando and Washington, D.C.

Through a recent study, McDonald’s Corp. seeks to better understand whether it would be feasible to develop a net zero energy quick service restaurant. Exploring net zero energy continues McDonald’s tradition of energy efficiency efforts and helps to prepare McDonald’s for future energy codes. The study’s findings, including research, technical analyses and detailed recommendations, form a road map for McDonald’s to pursue future net zero energy restaurants, as well as select energy efficiency solutions for existing restaurants.

“Our Global Energy Leadership board sees net zero energy as an opportunity for McDonald’s as we work to advance the energy performance of the restaurants and proactively pursue opportunities for integrating emerging technologies,” said Roy Buchert, global energy director at McDonald’s. “We are working with the study team and our suppliers to improve the efficiency of the restaurants. This net zero energy concept could change our approach from incremental improvements to substantial advances in energy efficiency and renewable energy integration where it makes sense.”

While this study is intended to benefit restaurants globally, three potential U.S. locations were assessed in the study: Chicago, Orlando and Washington, D.C. For each location, multiple scenarios were examined to determine the most practical and cost-effective pathway to net zero energy.

This high-level analysis, completed together with McDonald’s internal experts and equipment suppliers, generated a set of conceptual energy conservation strategies in addition to potential savings and cost estimates for prioritization. Further work will be required to generate detailed designs and accurate costs for the high-priority solutions. All aspects of the site and building were included in the study, but emphasis was placed on kitchen and HVAC equipment, which represent the predominant energy use in a typical restaurant.

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