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Chipotle to Use Solar Power at 75 Restaurants

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Monday October 26th, 2009 | 6 Comments

Chipotle Mexican Grill LogoColorado-based restaurant chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill, is going solar.  The popular restaurant chain is taking another step towards a more sustainable future.

According to a company press release, Houston-based Standard Renewable Energy will be installing solar panels at 75 Chipotle restaurants during the next 12 months, making the chain the largest producer of solar power in the restaurant industry.   The company  has “committed to panels that will produce 500 kilowatts of electricity.”  So far, solar panels have been installed at 13 restaurants at various locations across the United States.

The solar initiative will reduce Chipotle’s energy consumption during peak operational hours from 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.  Once the project is complete,  it is estimated the initiative will reduce global CO2 emissions by about 41 million pounds.  Not bad.

And the solar project is just one aspect of the food chain’s movement toward sustainability. The company, which operates more than 800 Chipotle restaurants in the United States, plans on reducing its operating costs and carbon footprint by using recycled drywall and low VOC paints and sealants in its new buildings.

Other Chipotle Mexican Grill Green Features:

Several Chipotle restaurants are LEED-certified.   The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is “an internationally recognized green building certification system,” developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

  1. In 2008, Chipotle opened a freestanding store outside Chicago with an on-site, six-kilowatt wind turbine in Gurnee, IL.   The turbine supplies up to 10 percent of the restaurant’s electricity needs.  During construction, the Gurnee store recycled and diverted 75 percent of construction waste.   The location also has a 2,500 gallon underground cistern that harvests rainwater for landscape irrigation.  The asphalt in the parking lot reflects the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it.  The restaurant also participates in an in-store recycling program. The Gurnee restaurant is the very first restaurant to receive Platinum certification in the LEED rating system.
  2. Nearly 95 percent of construction waste was diverted and recycled during construction at the Chipotle restaurant in Minnetonka, MN.   Other sustainable features include highly efficient faucets, toilets and other fixtures, which have maximized water efficiency by about 40 percent.  No incandescent lights are used in the building.  Instead, energy-saving LED lamps have been installed. The store also participates in an in-store recycling program.  LEED certification is currently pending at this particular location.
  3. Another LEED-certified restaurant is located in Long Island, N.Y.

As the Chipotle Mexican Grill chain reduces its reliance on fossil fuels and takes a few green footsteps towards a more sustainable future, hopefully other restaurants in the industry will soon follow.


▼▼▼      6 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • Mark

    Your article incorrectly states that the solar panels will generate 500 kilowatt hours of electricity. That is a very small amount of electricity and would hardly be worth a press release. The press release states that Chipotle will be installing 500 kW of solar panel generating capacity. According to PV Watts, 500 kW of solar panels installed in Houston would generate 640,000 kWh of electricity per year or 1,280 times more than your article reports.

  • Marlene

    I wish Chipolte was as good about the amount of waste their restaurants generate. Even eating in, they use (or used to) disposable crockery and cutlery. I tried to engage them in a conversation about this some time ago but they refused to participate. I have not been a customer since – hopefully they’ve put some more sustainable practices in.

    • M2. DOOM

      i do believe they use re-usable cookware now. that's based off of observation of course, but ever since mcdonalds let chipotle go, they've been doing good things

  • http://www.everblueenergy.com Mr LEED Certification

    It’s great to see a restaurant chain doing LEED and renewable energy. Hopefully, they are marketing and educating their customers about their efforts and being rewarded for making a difference.
    Go Chipotle!

  • http://www.cleanedison.com/solar.html Solar Training

    That's great LEED is the renewable energy, I wish that aside from restaurant. Each of us learn how to segregate the trash properly. So we can help the eco-friendly and LEED.

  • M2. DOOM

    i do believe they use re-usable cookware now. that's based off of observation of course, but ever since mcdonalds let chipotle go, they've been doing good things

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