First zero-emission McDonald's restaurant unveiled at Disney, Florida

McDonald's has unveiled its first zero-emissions restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, with solar arrays, green walls and kinetic bikes all featuring to create enough renewable energy that the building will need each year.

Solar-powered carpark lighting poles will offset more than 9,000kWh of energy use annually

Solar-powered carpark lighting poles will offset more than 9,000kWh of energy use annually

The remodelled building is McDonald’s first zero-emissions restaurant and is located on the west side of Disney’s property on Buena Vista Drive near the All-Star Resorts. McDonald’s has confirmed that a “soft-launch” period will start shortly, whereby the restaurant will only be open for Drive-Thru and delivery service.

The restaurant will have strict measures in place to protect customers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The building features a number of innovative green technologies that will create enough onsite renewable energy to cover all of its energy needs on a net annual basis.

More than 1,000 solar panels are located on the building’s roof, capable of generating 600,000kWh per year. An additional 1,500 square feet of solar glass panels that generate almost 70,000kWh of renewable energy have also been introduced. Around 600 square feet of louver windows that automatically open and close to help cool the restaurant and more than 1,700 square feet of plant-covered walls that absorb CO2, promote biodiversity and retain water also feature.

Solar-powered carpark lighting poles will offset more than 9,000kWh of energy use annually, while smart water usage and stationary bikes used by customers to create kinetic energy to power the McDonald’s Golden Arch lights have also been introduced.

"These unprecedented times have only heightened the importance of innovation that fosters long-term security and sustainability," McDonald’s chief supply chain officer for North America, Marion Gross said.

"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." 

Science-based targets

McDonald’s is looking to certify the building as zero emissions under the International Living Future Institute’s Zero Energy standard.

The restaurant will also be used to form new initiatives and learnings for McDonald’s current sustainability strategy, which includes science-based targets to reduce emissions by 36% at restaurants and offices by 2030 against a 2015 baseline.

McDonald’s restaurants in Austria, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the UK are already at or near 100% powered by renewables as of 2018. Additionally, McDonald's UK & Ireland has unveiled plans to install electric vehicle (EV) charging points at all restaurants with a drive-thru, as part of a partnership with InstaVolt.

The company announced two major US renewable agreements in November, adding more renewable power to the grid than any over major US restaurant firm. The capacity of the two deals is equivalent to the energy use of around 2,500 McDonald’s restaurants

In fact, the deals will prevent more than 700,000 metric tonnes of emissions – equivalent to planting more than 11 million trees or taking over 140,000 cars off the road for a year. It is expected that the renewable agreements will move McDonald’s 16% closer to its science-based target.

Matt Mace



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