How the green-building model can work for quick-serves nationwide.


At a glance, there’s not much different about the McDonald’s restaurant in Savannah, Georgia – except maybe that white roof.

But look a little closer, and you’ll see subtle signs that this particular McDonald’s is a little unusual – revolutionary, in fact – in the quick-serve world.

There are lots and lots of windows, for starters, along with bike racks and parking lot signs that give low-emission vehicles preferred spaces.

The standalone McDonald’s and a nearby Panera’s outlet are part of one of the nation’s first green-certified shopping centers, Savannah’s Abercorn Common, an environmentally friendly development where stormwater seeps through porous pavement into soil, rooftops reflect heat to keep things cool inside, and the sun serves as primary lighting most days.

‘It’s a beautiful McDonald’s,’ says owner Gary Dodd, who operates 12 McDonald’s in the Savannah area. ‘And this one, because it’s green – it’s special. And it’s going to save us some energy costs as well.’

Dodd had the option of relocating an existing restaurant or becoming part of Abercorn’s green-built reconstruction, and he decided to stay put.

‘We wanted to be part of the entire concept,’ Dodd says. ‘I would be open to another green store anywhere. It’s almost like you’re in the right location at the right time. If I had an opportunity to do it again, yes, I’d do it again.’