The kingdom of Ronald McDonald will soon make the kingdom of Mickey Mouse a little greener, thanks to a groundbreaking new McDonald’s restaurant near Disney World that aims to operate solely on renewable energy.
The iconic fast-food chain recently completed construction on the remodeled building, which is located on the west side of Disney’s property on Buena Vista Drive in Orlando, Fla. The restaurant is designed to create enough renewable energy on-site to cover 100% of its energy needs on a net annual basis. It will also serve as a hub for McDonald’s to test solutions that can reduce its energy and water use. As of late July, the location was open for carry-out, drive-thru, and McDelivery services only, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s expected to open for dine-in service later in the year.
McDonald’s move to build and test a renewable energy building is part of a larger company plan to reduce its carbon footprint across all areas of the business. One goal is to cut its greenhouse gas emissions at offices and restaurants by more than one-third by 2030 compared with 2015.
McDonald’s will work to attain the International Living Future Institute’s Zero Energy Certification over the next year to help it reach Net Zero Energy status. As noted by Restaurant Dive, McDonald’s is the first restaurant in the world to pursue Zero Energy Certification. Net Zero Energy projects make financial sense for corporations as they lower utility costs, and businesses can earn solar-related subsidies and rebates in certain cities and states.
McDonald’s has taken numerous steps in recent years to become a more environmentally friendly company. Last year the food chain invested in a pair of virtual power purchase agreements that will generate enough renewable energy to power more than 2,500 restaurants.
In 2018, McDonald’s unveiled an ambitious environmental program designed to prevent 150 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from releasing into the atmosphere by 2030. To hit that target, McDonald’s plans to work across its supply chains, offices, and restaurants to implement improvements such as LED lighting, energy-efficient kitchen equipment, sustainable packaging, restaurant recycling, and support for sustainable agriculture practices.
Disney World’s new McSustainable Mcdonald’s restaurant has several environmentally friendly features, including the following:
• 1,600 solar panels on the roof capable of producing 600,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) per year
• Outdoor porch skylights that feature 1,500 feet of photovoltaic glass panels generating close to 70,000 kWh per year
• More than 600,000 feet of louver windows that open and close automatically to bring cool air in and push warm air out
• An automated energy system and passive ventilation dining room that circulates air and regulates temperature
• More than 1,700 feet of green, plant-covered walls that absorb CO2, which promotes biodiversity and retains water
• Solar-powered parking lot poles that offset more than 7,000 kWh per year
• Stationary bikes customers can use to create energy that powers the Golden Arches string lights
• Low-flow plumbing fixtures, water draining pavers and native Florida plants designed to ensure that water is used efficiently.