McDonald’s headquarters among world's greenest buildings

April 22, 2009 |


celebrates Earth Day by announcing that its global headquarters building in Oak Brook, Ill., has been awarded one of the most prestigious Green Building awards: LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally accepted certification by the USGBC. Worldwide, less than 210 building projects have achieved LEED Platinum, the highest certification level. Buildings that have attained this rigorous level of LEED certification are among the greenest in the world.

McDonald’s global headquarters building was built in 1988, starting with a vision to construct an incomparable sustainable building. Many of the original features including an open office environment with generous access to daylight, space and land-saving underground parking and landscaping with native plants, contributed to McDonald’s receipt of this prestigious award.

In addition, McDonald’s recycling and waste programs, green vehicle parking designations, used fry oil conversion into bio-diesel fuel, and recapturing of rainwater for irrigation are just some of the innovative ideas implemented over the years which contributed to LEED Platinum certification. See below for complete listing of highlights.

“We are very proud of this achievement. By working through the LEED certification process, we were able to document that an environmentally-friendly workplace can be cost effective. The benefits associated with this effort are ongoing, with positive impacts on our employees, our budgets and the environment. This third party certification by the U.S. Green Building Council was a great validation for our workplace sustainability efforts” declared Joseph Endress, VP, Facilities and Systems at McDonald’s.

“Sustainability starts at home, in how we think, and how we make decisions everyday that put our values into practice, so this recognition is very aligned with our company’s overarching goal to be a socially responsible company” added Bob Langert, VP, McDonald’s Global Corporate Social Responsibility.

McDonald’s headquarters sits on 88 acres, over half still remains in native woodlands. Oak trees dominate the site and special care was taken during construction to not disturb any tree or tree roots. Two man-made lakes, fondly named Ed and Fred, are used to retain site storm water, which also provides a source for plant material irrigation during the summer. Preservation of the environment, concern for wildlife and its habitat, enhancement of the landscape and the maintenance of the waterways have been, and will always be, of great importance to McDonald’s.

Highlights of McDonald's global headquarters:

• Office layout and building design allow natural daylight penetration and exterior views of the wooded campus.

• Low mercury, energy efficient interior lighting is used throughout the building.

• Exterior lighting has been designed to minimize light pollution.

• Enhanced metering is used to monitor building systems efficiencies.

• Indoor underground parking is provided to minimize the urban heat island effect.

• The office is in close proximity to public transportation.

• Employees can take advantage of carpool and vanpool commuting options that are offered through PACE.

• There is preferred parking for Alternative Fuel Vehicles.

• Building HVAC equipment uses non-CFC (ozone protecting) refrigerants.

• There is optimal use of indoor air quality compliant paints and cleaning products (low VOC).

• Building maintenance practices incorporate use of low environmental impact cleaning and pest management.

• 100% of all landscape irrigation on the Home Office Campus is done with reclaimed storm water.

• 75% of the grounds are comprised of native or adaptive vegetation.

• Bike racks and locker/shower facilities have been implemented to support non-vehicle commute options.

• 45% of the total building energy consumption is procured from offsite renewable energy sources (solar / wind).

• The building has earned an EPA Energy Star score of 92, and has been an Energy Star recipient for two years.

• During 2008, there was an 8.3% (1.2M kwh) reduction in electrical consumption, which can be attributed to positive occupant behaviors, building re-commissioning, and sound operating practices.

2008 Recycling Highlights:

• Between January and June 2008, nearly 60 percent of building occupants recycled waste.

• Approximately 130 tons of commingled occupant waste is recycled annually.

• Over 31 tons of scrap metal was recycled during 2008.

• Over 128 tons of paper was recycled through the confidential shredding program.

• Several tons of electronic equipment was diverted from a landfill.

Occupant Best Practices:

• Fry oil from the McDonald’s restaurant located inside the headquarters building is recycled to make bio-diesel fuel to power a transportation shuttle to other nearby McDonald’s buildings.

• The resulting glycerin by-product from the production of bio-diesel fuel was donated to an underprivileged women’s organization in Chicago and used to make soap and bath products.

• Over 90% of office paper/equipment, furnishings, furniture and building materials are classified as “sustainable purchases.”

• Energy Star-rated IT equipment is purchased including computers, printers, and scanners.

• Employees can take advantage of an Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA) program, and they have access to an internal commute tracking tool that highlights the environmental benefits achieved by implementing various commute options.

• McDonald’s global headquarters is a Member of the Illinois Clean Air Counts Program, making a commitment to track and report reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

• Environmental education and awareness is kept top of mind through hosted events like Green Week and regular “lunch and learns”.

• LEED-Accredited Professionals (both internal and vendor partners), help drive ongoing sustainability efforts.

Fun facts:

• The headquarters building sits on 88 acres of land, over half still remains in native woodlands.

• Two man-made lakes (Ed and Fred) are used to retain site storm water, which also provides a source for plant material irrigation during the summer.

• More than 1500 mature trees of various species can be found on the property, specifically, three types of oak: bur, white and red. Special care was taken to not disturb any tree or tree roots during construction. Building configurations were designed with the locations of trees as the foremost concern.

• The largest Ohio Buckeye Tree in the US is located on McDonald’s property. The age of this tree is estimated at 150 years.

• The property is home to white-tailed deer, red fox, Canadian geese, mallard ducks, raccoons, and chipmunks. Bird watchers can view activities of blue jays, finches, martins and screech owls.

McDonald's is the leading global foodservice retailer with more than 31,000 local restaurants in more than 100 countries. More than 75 % of McDonald's restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by franchisees and affiliates.

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