The restaurant is designed to create enough renewable energy on-site to cover 100 percent of its energy needs.

By Isadora Baum
July 14, 2020
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Credit: McDonald's

McDonald's is always coming up with innovative ideas, but usually they're related to food, from new McFlurry flavors to breakfast sandwiches. But there's now a new innovation that's supporting sustainability efforts — something that could pave the way for future restaurants as well. 

McDonald's has officially completed construction of a first-of-its-kind restaurant designed to create enough renewable energy on-site to cover 100 percent of the restaurant's energy needs on a net annual basis. The global flagship restaurant will be a learning hub to test solutions to help reduce energy and water use. 

And the best part? This magical initiative is inside a magical place — Disney World! The newly remodeled building is located on the west side of Disney's property on Buena Vista Drive near the All-Star Resorts. As with all McDonald's restaurants, the new restaurant also has strict measures in place to protect customers and staff from coronavirus exposure. 

"These unprecedented times have only heightened the importance of innovation that fosters long-term security and sustainability," Marion Gross, McDonald's Chief Supply Chain Officer, North America, said in a statement.

"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." 

What does it look like? Designed by Ross Barney Architects (based in Chicago) and Architect/Engineer of record CPH (based in Florida), the 8,024 square-foot restaurant features:

  • An expansive solar-paneled roof, photovoltaic glass panels integrated throughout the building, and solar parking lot lights on the property's exterior
  • An automated energy system and passive ventilation dining-room that circulates air and regulates temperature, allowing the building to "breathe"
  • Interactive, family-friendly elements that educate customers about the restaurant's sustainable design — from stationary bikes that generate electricity and illuminate McDonald's Golden Arches to tablet games that teach children and adults about renewable energy

This is just the first step in McDonald's efforts to make their restaurants more sustainable, as the company has a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent in restaurants and offices by 2030 compared to a 2015 base year. We are looking forward to seeing what positive changes can come from this space.

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