Chicago Dairy Queen becomes first Green Globes-registered retail building

October 01, 2008 |

The Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie Blizzard frozen treat isn't the only green in the new Dairy Queen/Orange Julius shop in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. It's the first quick service restaurant in the nation to apply for Green Globes certification.

The interior of the 4,400-sf, $600,000 neighborhood store is also a model of what Dairy Queen hopes many of its outlets nationwide will look like in the future. The spray-foam insulation used in its construction has an R-47 rating. All its windows and doors are Energy Star compliant. Recycled brick and wood were also used on its exterior.

“One of the green elements we added for the urban environment is a walk-up window,” said Jon Goldman, the developer and franchisee/owner of the new store. “Corporate said, 'Why a sales window on the sidewalk?' Because people are walking dogs and strollers, and they're riding bikes in this area. It takes away the hassle of having to move a stroller through a restaurant or tie up your dog or bike outside.”

Goldman's company, CG Development, has completed six green condo building conversions in Chicago to date. His family owns three Dairy Queens in Chicago and is planning a fourth in the city's downtown Block 37 development. The Minneapolis-based Dairy Queen Company wants its 4,600-plus U.S. stores to modernize into “cornerstone” locations that sell both Dairy Queen ice cream and Orange Julius smoothies. There is currently no plan from the parent company to require green products or Green Globes certification in any remodeled stores, but Goldman said he wanted his store built sustainably to set a good example for other franchisees.

“We wanted to show what you can do with a store like this,” he said. “We're getting about 35% of our business in the walk-up window. Other stores will do the same if they realize it's bringing in excess of what a drive-thru does.”

Goldman said he chose to apply for Green Globes, the certification system of the Portland, Ore.-based Green Building Initiative, for his project because it costs less in consultation and application fees than the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program.

“Even though LEED is a more highly recognized name, the cost of LEED made it prohibitive to use on this project,” Goldman said. “With Green Globes and Energy Star compliance, it cost a fraction of what LEED would have. I think LEED is great. They just need to find a way to scale the cost down to the size of the project. This is a small store and we can't afford to use 5% of our entire construction budget, between $25,000 and $30,000, on permitting and consultation fees.”

Kevin Stover, PE, commercial programs consultant for the Green Building Initiative, said the soft costs of Green Globes are significantly less because of the system's Web-enabled and guidance-based feedback.

“Especially if it's a small project without sophisticated equipment, we can give you the guidance to save enough energy to become qualified through the Web-based application system,” Stover said.

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