Future McDonald's Locations Will Look A Lot Different. Here's Why

For all the technological advances that we've made in the last 10 years, our world still doesn't look as markedly different as we might have imagined it would by now. However, one of the corporations that is doing its best to upgrade our restaurants along with our phones is McDonald's. The chain already uses all kinds of technology (including an AI voice assistant) to keep itself ahead of the curve and to offer exceptional convenience (via Restaurant Business Online). However, not satisfied with small improvements, the chain has opened its first net-zero restaurant at Disney World in Buena Vista, Florida (via CSRWire).

If you're not familiar, net-zero means the establishment has net-zero carbon emissions, which is no small feat for a fast food restaurant, which typically uses a lot of energy to operate. For this reason, making one net-zero, even in a sunny location like Florida, is not just a matter of producing enough clean energy, but of reducing McDonald's energy consumption as well — by about 35 percent! To do this, this McDonald's restaurant uses exclusively electricity-based energy (i.e. no more gas-powered stoves or water-heaters). The new restaurant makes the absolute most of its design with a natural ventilation and shading system designed to keep the building cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.

What McDonald's net-zero restaurant means for the future

A quick glance at the new McDonald's net-zero restaurant shows us more than you might think about the future of not just fast food, but architecture as well. For example, the restaurant's exterior, designed by Ross Barney Architects, combines aesthetics and function, with walls made up of wood louvers and jalousie windows (essentially, vents), fans, and "1,700 square feet of plant-covered walls [to] absorb carbon dioxide while promoting biodiversity and water retention" (via DesignBoom). At the same time, the design never sacrifices visual interest or a comfortable environment for customers. Even the distinctive V-shaped roof is covered with solar panels while the rest of the building is outfitted with solar glass to power the restaurant (and even the lights in the parking lot outside) all year round (via HypeBeast).

If this type of energy innovation has you even more excited than the rides at Disney World, you're definitely not alone. In fact, this restaurant might be the start of a new standard for sustainable buildings for future McDonald's. According to Jean Gibbons, WSP USA buildings vice president: "The success of this project will not only influence the design of McDonald's restaurants in the future, but it will also serve to encourage similar projects to pursue net-zero targets, even those with similar high energy use intensity" (via WSP).