USA – McDonald’s, a fast food company, has completed construction of a first-of-its-kind Net Zero Energy restaurant designed to create enough renewable energy on-site to cover 100 per cent of its energy needs on a net annual basis.

The newly remodelled building is located on the west side of Disney’s property on Buena Vista Drive. For an initial “soft-launch” period, the restaurant is open only for drive thru and delivery service.

The new site at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is set to act as a learning hub for McDonald’s to test solutions for reducing energy and water use as it works to slash emissions from its operations around the world.

The restaurant features a solar-panelled roof, with photovoltaic glass panels integrated throughout the building, and solar parking lot lights on the property’s exterior.

There is also an automated energy system and passive ventilation dining-room circulates air and regulates temperature, without the need for energy-hungry cooling systems.

A range of interactive, family-friendly elements that aim to educate customers about the restaurant’s sustainable design have also been installed, including stationary bikes that generate electricity and illuminate McDonald’s Golden Arches and tablet games that teach children and adults about renewable energy.

“These unprecedented times have only heightened the importance of innovation that fosters long-term security and sustainability,” said Marion Gross, McDonald’s chief supply chain officer for North America.

“While health and safety in our restaurants is our top priority, we must also remain focused on creating positive change for our communities and the planet. This restaurant marks an important step in McDonald’s journey to reduce our carbon footprint and identify meaningful solutions in the fight against climate change.”

McDonald’s said it will now pursue Zero Energy Certification for the site from the International Living Future Institute, while data from the restaurant will be used to inform the company’s global sustainability efforts.

The project supports McDonald’s efforts to meet science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its restaurants and offices by 36 per cent by 2030 compared to a 2015 base year.

“McDonald’s Net Zero Energy-designed restaurant is an impressive achievement for the quick-service restaurant industry and beyond,” said Miranda Ballentine, CEO of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).

“Investments and innovations like these, by companies like McDonald’s, truly draw consumers in to broaden the understanding and reach of renewable energy and its critical role in addressing climate change.”

The opening of the new restaurant follows McDonald’s 2019 investment in two virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) that are set to significantly expand the amount of renewable energy available to its US outlets. 

Once online, the energy generated by the projects supported through the contracts will be equivalent to that used by over 2,500 restaurants, leading to approximately 700,000 metric tons of CO2e emissions savings each year.

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