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McDonald's opens a new self-powered restaurant

The chain’s newly remodeled Florida unit opened this week, featuring solar panels and covers all of its energy needs.
Photo courtesy of McDonald's

McDonald’s newest restaurant is fully self-powered.

The location, actually a remodeled building on the west side of Disney property in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is designed to cover all of its energy needs on a “net annual basis.”

The flagship restaurant will be a “learning hub” for the Chicago-based burger giant as it works to reduce energy and water use.

The location had a soft open this week, and is open only for delivery and drive-thru, with dine-in and takeout slated for “a later date.”

“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 in North America, said in a statement. She called the location “an important step in McDonald’s journey to reduce our carbon footprint and identify meaningful solutions in the fight against climate change.”

The restaurant is 8,024 square feet and was designed by Ross Barney Architects out of Chicago along with the Florida architectural and engineering firm CPH.

The location features a solar-paneled roof, photovoltaic glass panels throughout the building, and solar parking lot lights outside.

It also features an automated energy system and a passive ventilation dining room that circulates air and regulates temperature, which the company says, “allows the building to breathe.”

The location also features interactive elements for customers to learn about the restaurant’s design, including stationary bikes that generate electricity and illuminate the Golden Arches and games that teach children about renewable energy.

McDonald’s has been taking steps to increase its use of renewable energy. The company wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third by 2030, based on its 2015 use. The location is designed to help it progress towards that goal, by helping the company understand what strategies work best to cut back on energy use.

Last year, McDonald’s invested in a pair of virtual power purchase agreements to expand the amount of renewable energy available in the U.S. Once online, the energy generated by those projects will be equal to the power generated by 2,500 of its restaurants.

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