Sustainable Restaurant Design Stories

We are trying, testing and scaling what works across our global markets. Below are just some of the stories that show how we’re continually improving our approach as part of our Scale for Good journey.


Seeing the light in North Carolina

In 2009, our Franchisee Ric Richards opened his first LEED® Gold restaurant in Cary, North Carolina. The restaurant featured an array of energy-efficient measures, including a hydronic boiler system, tubular skylights and a 100% LED lighting system. The use of LED lighting in particular has produced much lower energy use than conventional systems, saving as much as 253,063 kWh per year – that’s the equivalent of 25 average households!

In 2013, Ric opened a second restaurant in Cary, again achieving LEED® Gold certification. With this restaurant, Ric went even further, installing a solar array to generate electricity, an electric car charging station, 100% recycled brick and energy-efficient hand dryers. Ric estimates the solar array generates around 50,000 kWh per year, feeding directly into the restaurant.


Sustainable growth in China

In 2018, McDonald's China announced its action plan to focus on green restaurants and green packaging. They expect to open more than 1,800 restaurants by 2022 and that these restaurants target LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards in the "Interior Design & Construction" category, issued by the United States Green Building Council. Once the goal is met, over 95% of the new store portfolio is LEED certifiable. 

For the existing restaurants, McDonald's China has been continuously updating and optimizing the energy management systems, including the use of LED energy-saving lamps, as well as more efficient air conditioning and kitchen equipment. Today, the average energy consumption in a McDonald's China restaurant is 30% less than in 2013, and the company aims to lower consumption by another 11% by 2022, compared to 2018 levels. Learn more here.


State of the art sustainability design in Chicago

Photo credit: Kendall McCaugherty, Hall+Merrick Photographers

The Chicago Flagship was recognized in 2018 as the Illinois Green Emerald Award ‘Green Building Innovation’ winner. The Flagship is 19,000-square-foot steel and wood timber constructed and has applied for  LEED certification. Features include:

  • Enhanced energy performance utilizing solar pergola, which captures the sun’s energy, supplying approximately 60% of the building’s electrical energy
  • Reduced energy use through energy efficient kitchen and HVAC equipment
  • Native and drought resilient plants and building features reduce water usage and provides cleaner water
  • More than 70 trees at the ground level with a green roof that features floating glass garden of ferns and white birch trees

Setting standards for building efficiency

McDonald’s Netherlands saw an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of its restaurants by increasing the efficiency of the buildings. In 2011, a new restaurant opened in Amsterdam equipped with an array of energy-efficient technology, including photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, solar-powered collectors for heating water, a wind turbine, a charging station for electric cars, LED lighting, heat pumps for heating and cooling the kitchen, a heat recovery system, waterless urinals and infrared faucet sensors.

The restaurant became the first in the Netherlands to meet the Platinum standard of McDonald’s Green Building Guidelines, and also received GreenBuilding Partner status and the Green Building Award from the European Commission. It was the first non-residential building in the Netherlands, and McDonald’s first European restaurant, to receive these accolades.



Championing the planet

McDonald’s UK has found a unique way to leverage the environmental enthusiasm of its staff members – by creating Planet Champions. Through the voluntary program, staff members can become the environmental voice of their restaurant, support business managers with existing environmental initiatives, encourage and inspire colleagues, and generate new ideas to promote sustainability.

Volunteers receive training on environmental issues, what the Company is doing to address them and how the volunteers can contribute. They get involved in – and help organize – a year-round calendar of events and activities around litter, recycling and energy, and a regular newsletter keeps them up to date and enables them to share ideas.

In 2016 over 2,800 of McDonald’s employees completed the sustainability training to become or support Planet Champions. The program has helped achieve energy savings and an increase in recycling. It’s also brought external recognition, winning the Green Apple award for employee engagement and being shortlisted for the PEER awards celebrating inspirational business initiatives.

As a result of this success, the Planet Champions program has been extended to Ireland, Norway and Sweden.


Germany - Leading through example

To enhance environmental awareness the German market established the “Planet Award” in 2013, which annually recognizes a franchisee with exemplary environmental management practices in place. 

Additionally, in 2015, McDonald's Germany was able to reduce CO2 emissions from electricity consumption in its restaurants by more than 80 percent compared to 2013. This was achieved with the switch to 100 percent renewable energy and the implementation of energy-saving measures in restaurants.



Australia – Energy innovation

Australia’s Forrestdale restaurant, which opened November 2018, earned the equivalent of a 4 star energy rating. The capacity of its rooftop solar photovoltaic array is equivalent to at least 10% of the restaurant’s annual energy consumption.

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Family in the forest
Outdoor sign