Smart Restaurant Design

We’re looking closely at McDonald’s restaurant design, equipment and crew operations to ensure our environmental footprint is low and our community legacy is positive.

Why it matters

We recognize our responsibility for ensuring that McDonald’s restaurants create positive impacts for communities, wider society and our planet. To this end, we take great care to locate, build and refurbish 37,000 McDonald’s restaurants around the world.

On this page:

Our approach | Our actions

Our approach

Our ambition is to have the most resource-efficient restaurants possible, using the minimum amounts of energy and water, and maximizing the use of renewable energy.

In March 2018, we became the first restaurant company in the world to address global climate change by setting a Science Based Target to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

The Company will partner with Franchisees to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 36% by 2030 from a 2015 base year in a new strategy to address global climate change. Additionally, the Company also commits to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity (per metric ton of food and packaging) across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels. This combined target has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). Read more about McDonald’s Climate Action here.

This includes working with Franchisees on being more innovative and efficient in restaurants through improvements such as LED lighting, energy efficient kitchen equipment, more sustainable packaging, and recycling.

We’re currently developing comprehensive global restaurant sustainability standards, including a strategy on restaurant refrigeration management and water use.

Our smart restaurant design strategy supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically:

As well as these, we’ve mapped our Scale for Good initiatives to all 17 goals.


Our actions

Green Building Guidelines, Europe

We first issued Green Building Guidelines in 2009, focusing on McDonald’s European restaurants. Since then, we’ve launched several localized building standards for other regions, as well as energy targets. We’ve also issued updated, comprehensive Green Buildings Guidelines for new European restaurants in 2015.

These Green Building Guidelines set out the many ways in which we aim to minimize McDonald’s restaurants’ footprint. In Europe, we specifically focus on these key areas:

  • Location – developing brownfield sites, positioning the building to make maximum use of natural light and shading, and to be near other amenities (reducing traffic).
  • Access – providing suitable access for pedestrians, cyclists and disabled customers.
  • Land use and ecology – conserving the local habitat and wildlife.
  • Pollution – minimizing the impact of noise, light, odors, litter and drainage.
  • Construction design – making sure buildings are adaptable for the future.
  • Energy and water efficiency – ensuring buildings use these resources as efficiently as possible and, where it makes sense, use the potential for renewable energy generation (e.g., solar energy in hotter countries).
  • Environmental management practices – making sure we follow best practice to build in the most environmentally sensitive way.

Reducing energy use and emissions

We champion energy efficiency throughout McDonald’s restaurants and all new restaurants are built with energy efficiency in mind. This includes energy management systems to control lighting, heating and air conditioning, energy-efficient kitchen equipment and motion-sensitive lighting. In the U.K., all new McDonald’s restaurants have 100% LED lighting, which uses 50% less energy than fluorescent lighting. Over 120,000 LED lights have now been installed across McDonald’s UK restaurants, right down to the bulbs in our emergency lighting.

In 2017, we allocated $5 million to McDonald’s restaurants around the globe for LED upgrades. This has achieved a net cost saving of $14.3 million and a CO2 reduction of 100,587 metric tons – the equivalent to removing 21,539 cars from the road for a year.

Kitchen equipment accounts for a significant proportion of a McDonald’s restaurant’s energy use. That means suppliers of our kitchen equipment are critical to helping us achieve our energy-reduction goals. Each year, we challenge them to identify further improvements in energy efficiency. We also upgrade our equipment as more efficient replacements become available and reward suppliers who make the best efficiency improvements.

You can find further details of our restaurant energy usage and emissions on our Progress and Performance page.

Reducing energy and water by 20% in the U.S.

In the U.S., we operate an environmental sustainability program, US 20x2020 By Design. The program aims to reduce energy and water by 20% by 2020, using innovative strategies in the design of new restaurants. These include LED lighting, low oil-volume fryers, high-efficiency hand dryers, toilets and faucets, and low-spray valves.

Setting the goal has enabled us to measure the increasingly more efficient design of McDonald’s new prototype buildings in the U.S. Against our 2015 building design, we have achieved a 16.7% reduction in electricity consumption and a 19% reduction in water use. Our hot water remains hot but we’ve managed to reduce the energy needed to heat it by over 26%.

That’s not all…

See how we’re designing, building and renovating smarter restaurants around the world.

restaurant exterior
restaurant exterior

Seeing the light in North Carolina

Restaurants switching to LED lighting and even generating their own energy are starting to make a real impact in driving down our footprint, as two restaurants in the U.S. are demonstrating.


restaurant exterior
restaurant exterior

Setting standards for building efficiency

An award-winning McDonald’s Netherlands restaurant has set new standards for building efficiency, thanks to a range of exciting design innovations, including its own wind turbine for renewable energy.


employee pin
employee pin

Championing the planet

Planet Champions is a voluntary program in McDonald’s UK that enables staff members to be the environmental voice in each restaurant, generating new ideas to increase recycling and save energy.


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