While it’s hard not to ask “What’s the catch?” upon hearing news about big corporations adopting socially conscious policies, the fact remains that whatever the reasons are behind these changes, their footprints are often large enough to create a significant impact. To that end, fast food giant McDonald’s opened a prototype “green” restaurant on the south side of Chicago last year in an attempt to test out a number of environmentally friendly upgrades to their preexisting template.
Though none of the features are particularly revolutionary – skylights to let in more natural light, recycling rainwater for use in plumbing and better recycling standards – when taken together, early estimates anticipate a 25% reduction in energy consumption, a quantifiable piece of data that easily translates at the bank. Which is arguably the most important aspect of undertakings such as this one. When big businesses begin to see how eco-efficiencies fall directly in line with cost saving measures, the initiatives sell themselves. And in the spirit of true competition, if an international mega-chain like McDonald’s implements changes that benefit their bottom line, it suddenly makes sense for others to follow suit.
In an interesting side note, the Times Online quotes McDonald’s Senior Director of Restaurant Design, Max Corma, as having this to say about the thinking behind the pilot project, “Our expectation is not that [the store] will change customer preferences, but that it may enhance loyalty.” So while the new venture might not be converting consumers to the McDonald’s brand en masse, it certainly doesn’t hurt the company image either.