Chipotle to Use Solar Power at 75 Restaurants

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.

As a full-time freelance writer, Jace is the Internet Feature Writer for Suite101 and is the Holidays and Working Moms Examiner for Examiner.com. She is a regular contributor for Energy Boom, EcoWorldly and PlanetSave. She particularly enjoys writing about unusual and downright wacky environmental stories and issues plaguing wildlife and animals.Besides writing, Jace is also passionate about online safety and issues concerning children. As an Internet Safety educator, she teaches online safety and technology to 600 elementary-aged children every week for her local school district.Jace has two children who are both in college and is also mom to a slew of pets. Feel free to contact her with story leads or just drop her a note at jacer@siber-net.com.