Here Comes Solar Power

McDonald’s, Kwik Trip focus on solar power, energy conservation.

July 15, 2020

BUENA VISTA, Fla.—McDonald’s newest restaurant is a fully self-powered, futuristic structure designed to cover all of its own energy needs on a “net annual basis,” reports

The fast-food eatery is actually a remodeled building on the west side of Disney property in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, which will serve as a “learning hub” for the burger giant as it works to cut energy use and conserve water. The location had a soft open this week, providing only for delivery and drive-thru services. Dine-in and takeout are slated for “a later date.”

“These unprecedented times have only heightened the importance of innovation that fosters long-term security and sustainability,” said Marion Gross, chief supply chain officer for McDonald’s in North America. She called the location “an important step in McDonald’s journey to reduce our carbon footprint and identify meaningful solutions in the fight against climate change.”

At 8,024 square feet, the restaurant features a solar-paneled roof, photovoltaic glass panels throughout the building, and solar parking lot lights outside. It also has an automated energy system and a passive ventilation dining room that circulates air and regulates temperature.

The company wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third by 2030, based on its 2015 use. The Florida store is designed to make progress toward that goal, by helping the company understand what strategies work best.

McDonald’s focus on solar energy may be new for the QSR, but it is nothing new for Kwik Trip, the Midwest convenience-store chain. As NACS Daily reported in 2011, some La Crosse, Wisconsin, Kwik Trip locations then featured LED lighting, skylights and additional windows, more concrete than asphalt, recycling efforts, low-flow toilets and sinks, water reclamation at the car wash, energy management systems, more efficient motors for coolers and other in-store equipment to help cut utility costs and save energy. 

Kwik Trip recently shared that it has installed 2,000 solar panels on the roof of its newest Bread & Buns Bakery, which supplies proprietary baked goods to Kwik Trip locations. Those panels are expected to offset about 9% of the plants’ energy requirements.