Chipotle debuts all-electric and solar restaurant design

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Chipotle Mexican Grill, among the largest restaurant chains in the U.S., announced a new design for its stores that features all-electric appliances and on-site solar. The restaurant’s operations would also be supported through the purchase of renewable energy credits generated by solar and wind assets. 

The company recently opened restaurants with these new features in Gloucester, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida, with a third “Responsible Restaurant” opening in Castle Rock, Colorado. The locations will help Chipotle test its progress towards climate targets, which are in alignment with the Science Based Targets initiative that targets direct and indirect emissions reductions of 50% lower than 2019 baseline by 2030. 

The Newport Beach, Calif.-based restaurant chain will make use of rooftop solar, all-electric cooking equipment, a smaller electric cookline and improved exhaust goods, energy management systems, biodegradable cups, cactus leather chairs, artwork made of recycled rice husks, and EV charging stations at select locations. 

Chipotle said it plans to have more than 100 of its new locations in 2024 serving up burritos and bowls using all-electric appliances powered by renewable energy. The company will continue to iteratively improve the design as pilot restaurants’ progress is studied. 

Additionally, Chipotle is invested in climate change combatting activities like exploring greater use of low carbon fuels and adoption of renewable resources in logistics, and investing in projects to drive emission reductions in beef and dairy production. The company said it is also exploring and developing strategies to support greater adoption of regenerative agriculture practices among supply chain partners and developing plans for additional vegetarian and vegan menu offerings.  

Chipotle also targets increasing the amount of local produce purchased in 2023 to a planned total of at least 36.4 million pounds, supporting local farming and reducing trucking miles. 

“With our aggressive development goal in North America, we hold ourselves accountable to reduce the environmental impact of our restaurants,” said Laurie Schalow, chief corporate affairs officer at Chipotle. “We are aiming to incorporate some elements of our responsible restaurant design into many of our new restaurant openings going forward.”

 

Corporate solar adoption is on a sharp rise in recent years. As of November 2022, U.S. corporations installed nearly 19 GW of on- and off-site solar capacity, which doubles the amount that had been installed since 2019. Recent growth is due to the expansion of off-site corporate solar procurement, which now represents 55% of all commercial solar use. Almost 70% of all off-site corporate solar has been brought online since 2019.

“From data centers to industrial freezers, the most energy-intensive business operations are turning to solar as the most reliable and affordable way to power their infrastructure,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive officer, Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a November 2022 report.

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