red-lobster-logo.jpgDarden Restaurants, a company that owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, is incorporating a slate of green design elements in their next eight restaurants to reduce energy consumption in each building and achieve LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council.

The Olive Garden in Jonesboro, Ark., which opened for business last month, is the first of eight restaurants designed to meet LEED standards. One more Olive Garden and two Red Lobsters are scheduled to open in 2010, followed by one Olive Garden, two Red Lobsters and one LongHorn Steakhouse in 2011.

LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are aimed at limiting business impact on the environment. Darden plans to apply lessons from those eight restaurants to new restaurants and, where feasible, remodels across its portfolio in the future.

“Every restaurant we build represents a 30-year investment, so we want to build them to last,” Singh continued. “But more importantly, we want to build them in a sustainable manner from both a construction standpoint and an operational one.”

The new Olive Garden in Jonesboro features a number of sustainable design elements, including:

  • Recycled Building Materials – Supplies such as sheetrock, doors and windows were made from recycled content. The flooring features carpet squares made from 100% recycled materials.
  • Increased Use of Natural Light – Incorporating more windows more frequently into the building’s exterior reduces the need for artificial light.
  • Energy Efficient Equipment and Fixtures – Items such as Energy Star rated equipment and low-flow water nozzles in the kitchen, as well as automatic faucets in the restrooms, reduce energy and water usage. New LED light bulbs that utilize seven watts of energy and last up to 50,000 hours replace bulbs that used 75 watts and had to be changed two to three times a year.
  • Reclaimed Heat – To supplement the heating of hot water in the kitchen, heat expelled from the condensing units of the HVAC system and the Freezer/Cooler condensing units is reclaimed and used to heat water.

And the greening doesn’t stop with the designing, said Dave Pickens, president of Olive Garden: “All of our restaurants have Green Teams that, in addition to implementing programs aimed at reducing waste and energy and water usage, look for other ways to make an impact.”

Darden recently opened its new corporate headquarters facility in Orlando which is on track to earn LEED Gold certification from the USGBC. It’s the largest LEED Gold new construction project in the state of Florida. 

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