McDonald's Flagship receives LEED Platinum Certification

February 20, 2021

Plat­inum cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is the high­est lev­el of achieve­ment from the glob­al­ly rec­og­nized pro­gram LEED (Lead­er­ship in Ener­gy and Envi­ron­men­tal Design). The McDonald’s Flag­ship becomes the first fast-food restau­rant to receive plat­inum cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and joins a short list of sev­en retail build­ings to do so.

The Chica­go loca­tion rad­i­cal­ly devi­ates from a typ­i­cal pro­to­type restau­rant, set­ting a prece­dent for all build­ings, no mat­ter their ener­gy inten­sive pro­file, to meet sus­tain­abil­i­ty tar­gets through thought­ful design, con­struc­tion, and oper­a­tion. Sub­mit­ted under LEED ver­sion 4 + 4.1, the project address­es many crit­i­cal categories:

Mc Donalds Chicago Flagship 45

Loca­tion and Trans­porta­tion
Steps from mul­ti­ple bus, train, and bicy­cle net­works, the project is well posi­tioned to sup­port mul­ti-modal access. Sand­wiched between arte­r­i­al roads the heav­i­ly land­scaped site is an an urban liv­ing room for the grow­ing Riv­er North com­mu­ni­ty; com­plete with an inte­grat­ed pub­lic park.

Sus­tain­able Sites
92% of the open site area is com­prised of per­me­able pavers and native & adap­tive land­scap­ing, reduc­ing storm-water runoff. Bio­di­ver­si­ty is bol­stered by the 11% increase (from the pri­or devel­op­ment) in land­scaped area con­tain­ing over 10,500 plants and 35+ species of plants, trees, fruits, and vegetables.

Water Effi­cien­cy
Two inten­sive green roofs cov­er 14% of the total roof area with the abil­i­ty to hold over 7,000 gal­lons of storm-water. Roof drains fun­nel storm-water to under­ground storm sew­ers, direct­ing water to a 65,000-gallon under­ground stor­age tank for slow release into the city sys­tem. Slow­ing the release of storm-water to the city sys­tem decreas­es the bur­den on infra­struc­ture – a grow­ing prob­lem in imper­vi­ous urban envi­ron­ments like Chicago.

Ener­gy and Atmos­phere
A solar per­go­la” com­posed of 1,062 south-fac­ing pan­els gen­er­ates ~59% of the building’s over­all elec­tri­cal ener­gy needs while pro­vid­ing gen­er­ous shad­ing. Two years of data show the solar pan­els con­sis­tent­ly out-per­form­ing mod­eled esti­mates, includ­ing four months of gen­er­a­tion beyond con­sump­tion. This lev­el of suc­cess is a les­son learned for urban pow­er gen­er­a­tion in cli­mates with unpre­dictable sun expo­sure. The Flag­ship has a 55.61% reduc­tion in ener­gy from the benchmark.

Mate­ri­als and Resources
The most sus­tain­able build­ing is one that already exists. In that spir­it, near­ly 65% of the exist­ing build­ing was re-used. The con­struc­tion process divert­ed 98.92% of waste such as wood, dry­wall, brick, block, met­al, con­crete, asphalt, and card­board. The mate­r­i­al selec­tion deci­sion-mak­ing process revolved around the use of authen­tic, real and inno­v­a­tive mate­ri­als; this includes installed prod­ucts that have Envi­ron­men­tal Prod­uct Dec­la­ra­tions and Health Prod­uct Declarations.

Indoor Envi­ron­men­tal Qual­i­ty
Approx­i­mate­ly 77.5% of inte­ri­or floor area has views out­side. The hang­ing atri­um pro­vides a calm­ing nat­ur­al sanc­tu­ary plant­ed with birch trees and an under­sto­ry of edi­ble plants. Sus­pend­ed tapes­tries” in the din­ing room improve indoor air qual­i­ty, enrich hap­pi­ness, and pro­vide acoustic value.

Car­bon Cure, a con­crete mix designed to sequester CO2 and reduce the quan­ti­ty of cement while pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al strength was used in the project’s foun­da­tions, seques­ter­ing ~30,000 lbs of CO2. The Cross Lam­i­nat­ed Tim­ber (CLT) roof deck and Glue Lam­i­nat­ed (Glu­lam) beams are rapid­ly renew­able resources that serve as car­bon sinks and reduce the use of alter­na­tive mate­ri­als with high embod­ied ener­gy. The flag­ship became the first com­mer­cial build­ing in Chica­go to use CLT.

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Build­ings are respon­si­ble for approx­i­mate­ly 40% of glob­al CO2 emis­sions and the McDonald’s Chica­go Flag­ship breaks new ground. While one-of-a-kind, the project is gen­er­at­ing valu­able lessons that can be scaled; impact­ing com­mu­ni­ties around the world.

Read more about the project here.

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