Darden Restaurants, Office Depot Announce LEED Initiatives

Major US chains are beginning to develop green building prototypes for the roll-out of new retail spaces nationwide.

This week, both Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) and Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) announced new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) initiatives. 

Darden Restaurants said it will follow LEED standards in its design process for all new restaurants and, where feasible, restaurant remodels.

Darden’s three largest brands–Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse – are designing eight restaurants to achieve LEED certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The company said it plans to apply learnings from those eight restaurants to new restaurants and remodels across its portfolio in the future.

The Olive Garden in Jonesboro, Ark., which opened for business last month, is the first of eight restaurants the company is designing 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.

The Jonesboro location features sustainable design elements including: recycled building materials, increased use of natural light, energy efficient equipment and fixtures, and reclaimed heat. 

Office Depot

Office Depot® announced it will pursue LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI) certification for all new retail stores, beginning in June 2010.

LEED CI is the system for certifying interiors that are healthy, productive places to work; are less costly to operate and maintain; and have a reduced environmental footprint.

14 new Office Depot store locations are planned for LEED CI certification, starting with the Company’s newest location in Austin, TX, which is scheduled to open in June 2010. The company said it will look to mirror the energy and monetary savings seen at its first LEED Gold-Certified store (also in Austin, TX), which opened in April 2008.

Features of the new LEED CI certified stores will include:

  • Preferred parking designated for low-emitting, fuel efficient vehicles and carpooling
  • Skylights to harvest daylight for 90% of the store.
  • Reflective roof which features a membrane that helps to prevent absorption of the heat from the sun and keeps the interior of the store cooler.
  • Energy Star rated HVAC equipment that exceeds ASHRAE standards.
  • Daylight and occupancy sensors which reduce energy use.
  • Water conservation interior fixtures, including tankless instant hot water heaters, low flush toilets, low flow urinals, and automatic shutoff sensors in restrooms that will use over 30% less water than the typical facility.
  • All interior finishes are made up low VOC emitting materials and finishes.
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