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Green Fast Food? Could it Be?

Chipotle, a Mexican-style fast food company, announced that 75 of its restaurants are slated to receive power by solar panels in the next twelve months. If all goes according to plan, the system could produce 500 kilowatt hours of electricity, making Chipotle the leading producer of solar energy in fast food. Denver, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio are among the selected cities already in the process of panel installation. Chipotle uses a formula that takes into account the location’s energy consumption, local solar rebates and the site’s access to direct sunlight.

The company hopes to reduce its CO2 emissions by 41 million pounds, as well as reduce its energy consumption during peak billing hours. Chipotle runs 830 locations nationwide, and many of those are single-story, allowing for access to direct sunlight. This could conceivably boost Chipotle’s popularity by adding to their already impressive green credentials.

It seems they’ve found it. Chipotle is the first restaurant ever to receive Platinum Level LEED Certification - the highest of its kind. Chipotle received the certification for its restaurant in Gurnee, IL, which features a wind turbine and underground cistern for watering landscaping. Chipotle also a has a LEED certified location on Long Island.

It’s hard to argue with this move, as it could really put the pressure on other fast food enterprises. Just think of what 32,000 McDonald’s restaurants in 100 countries could do with all that roof footage? According to the Daily Finance, if only one quarter of the McDonald’s locations were properly situated for solar, the corporation could produce 50 megawatts globally, enough to reduce an average North American coal-fired plant by 10% or displace a small plant altogether. Not bad for the pioneers of drive-through, huh? The irony may kill a few people, though.

Still, it’s a positive move for Chipotle and the fast food industry on the whole. Here’s a tip of the hat to Chipotle for it’s innovation and leadership, not to mention coining the phrase, “Food With Integrity.”

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