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KFC Builds Eco-friendly Restaurant But Menu Stays the Same

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday May 4th, 2011 | 2 Comments

KFC’s newest restaurant in Indianapolis is designed to use 25 percent less energy and water. The Indianapolis restaurant is part of KFC’s E3 initiative “which looks at Economically responsible ways of saving energy and being environmentally aware,” said Roger McClendon, Chief Sustainability Officer for Yum! Brands, Inc., the parent company of KFC Corporation.

The Indianapolis restaurant features energy-efficient cooking equipment, long-life LED lighting, fixtures designed for less water use, and high efficiency heating, cooling and ventilation. It reuses energy to heat hot water, uses sunlight to reduce lighting and has an automated energy management and monitoring. Cooking oil and plastics are recycled.

The restaurant was built smaller to save materials and energy. It was constructed from locally sourced materials, and recycled content was used in some of the materials, including floor tiles, wall coverings and cotton fiber insulation. The roofing and pavement are light colored which helps reduce the urban heat island effect. The wood used to construct the restaurant was Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, and environmentally friendlier adhesives and paints were used.

The outside of the building is also sustainably designed with parking preferences for hybrid vehicles, and a water drip irrigation system, which conserves water, for the indigenous flowers and shrubs that were planted.

KFC will seek LEED certification for the restaurant. In 2009, a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in Northampton, Massachusetts achieved LEED-Gold certification. The restaurant was designed to use 30 percent less energy and water. It uses solar energy to preheat fresh air coming into the building which reduces the use of natural gas, and a lighting control system that maximizes the use of natural light. The counter tops and building insulation contain recycled content.

KFC might use the Indianapolis restaurant as a prototype for future restaurants. “What we learn at the Indianapolis restaurant could potentially impact the design of future buildings worldwide,” McClendon said.

How about more sustainable food?

Fast Company points out that while it is great KFC built an environmentally-friendly restaurant, it is a shame that the fast food company is not making its food more sustainable. The article states that while it is a positive development “any time a large chain starts experimenting with LEED certified buildings, the planet benefits,” but questions why this did not occur sooner.

Chipotle is a fast food chain that uses organic produce and hormone and antibiotic-free meat. KFC Canada, as the Fast Company article points out, “already uses hormone-free chicken.” Working on the menu, the article also points out, is what will ultimately benefit customers.

It must be noted that the Fast Company article contained several errors which were brought to my attention. Fast Company acknowledged the errors with the following correction: “You can’t buy chicken in America that isn’t hormone free. It’s mandatory. We regret the error; KFC’s chicken is totally hormone-free, like everyone else’s. They use antibiotics ‘judiciously.’


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  • Matt Schnackenberg

    Its a start.

  • jose

    It is a shame KFC isn’t more edible, as well as more sustainable. I ate KFC for the first 1973. I thought it disgusting then, and my opinion hasn’t changed.