A Chipotle restaurant in Gurnee Mills, IL recently gained Platinum level certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, which is run by the United States Green Building Council. The restaurant was built on the cutting edge of environmentally sustainable technology, boasting a six-kilowatt wind turbine, a 2,500 gallon cistern for storing and reusing rainwater for sprinklers, and a building built using various recycled materials.
LEED is a voluntary program, and participants are independently certified by the Green Building Certification Institute. The program focuses on sustainability and green practices in several areas, including site selection, water conservation, energy efficiency, building materials, and design innovations. Buildings are evaluated on a point system and then awarded different levels of certification. The Gurnee Chipotle has achieved the platinum level, which is the highest available.
To get platinum certification, Chipotle had to score at least 80 points on a 100 point scale in the different areas of emphasis in the program. More and more restaurant chains are looking to LEED certification and other green practices as consumers continue to indicate they prefer companies that do so. Chipotle has long been a leader in sustainability, including sourcing food locally, using recyclable materials, and minimizing packaging waste.
For small independent restaurants, things like LEED certification probably seem like a pipe dream reserved only for the rich big chains that can afford a PR stunt. But in reality consumer expectations are changing fast, and sooner or later smaller restaurants will be expected to belly up to the green movement trough by their customers. Starting that transition now makes it easier to finish later, and besides it’s great publicity. Just ask Chipotle. The Back Burner has all kinds of green restaurant and sustainability tips. You might as well start digging in now, because green is here to stay.