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Triangle fast-food restaurants go green

Posted October 5, 2009

— Two Triangle fast-food restaurants are trying out the theory that going green can save the environment and save money.

Triangle fast food goes environmentally friendly Triangle fast food goes environmentally friendly

The regional manager of Subway, Tim Colburn, said the company picked the right spot to go green.

"This is southern Chapel Hill. The folks here care about the environment," Colburn said. "So, we knew we had the right location."

The Subway at Southern Village is North Carolina's first stand-alone restaurant tog get a LEED certification. That designation comes from a national program that recognizes environmentally sustainable buildings.

Colburn said the Subway restaurant was designed on simple principles to make it environmentally friendly.

"Keep waste at a minimum. Keep from buying new stuff. Reusing what you can," he said. "It helps the environment."

The result was a building that's a green machine, from energy-efficient lights and water fixtures to recycled floor tiles.

For the Subway chain, the proof is in the numbers: Last month, a restaurant in Carrboro had an electric bill of about $680. Meanwhile, the green restaurant, which is about 500 square feet larger, had an electric bill of $350.

"Our office here in Chapel Hill is committed to three or four more stores in the next year, year and a half," Colburn said.

In Cary, Ric Richards recently opened North Carolina's first green McDonald's franchise. Richards is seeking LEED certification for the restaurant this fall.

Outside, there's an electric car charger. Inside, devices called solatubes use mirrors to funnel in sunlight.

"During bright, sunny days, we're only using 3 percent of our lights," Richards said.

Even a new fryer bolsters the environmentally friendly mission by using less oil. "We can throw less oil away," he said. "It's very efficient, very effective."

And the fries? "Still taste the same," assured Richards.

Richards said the green design makes good environmental sense and good business sense.

"We are sort of a litmus test to see what's going to happen in the future, but so far, everything looks bright," he said.


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  • justcommonsense Oct 5, 2009

    Hmmmm...I for one am so tired of the "GO GREEN" line attached to everything these days. Yes, we need to take care of our planet and take steps to conserve energy. I do not throw trash on the roadways, I recycle...and trust me living in the country that is no small feat. I have to actually collect it in containers and drive it about 15 miles oneways. How's that for efficiency, I get to crank up my gas burning emission spewing car for this purpose.

    I would love to be able to "get off the grid"..guess what thought? I simply cannot afford the cost of having solar, wind or geothermal ANYTHING installed on my home. Most of us cannot...we just don't make enough money to pay taxes, insurance....health, home and auto, the mortgage, groceries and just the basices...and still put aside money for going green?...Not happening for most of us.

  • scientistjo Oct 5, 2009

    "It is preposterous beyond words to believe humans can affect the climate."

    It's sad that scientists with their logic and facts can't compete with billion dollar conglomerates like Fox News. One could show you facts all day, but if Glenn Beck says he believes the opposite but gives NO facts, you all take it as the truth... because it's easier than accepting the facts and being a responsible citizen of Earth.

  • Here kitty kitty Oct 5, 2009

    I've eaten at some fast food places and "gone green" before...

  • CicnyKid Oct 5, 2009

    There’s a difference between energy efficiency and cost effectiveness. The latter has to provide for a reasonable payback period in decreased energy bills that offsets the higher upfront cost. Of course it’s energy efficient, but is it cost effective?

    I’m guessing that Subway and McDonalds are anticipating increased revenue from more customers due to approval by the greenies in these areas (esp. over at the hill), in order to make it cost effective. It was done for PR and marketing purposes. I just don’t see mainstream America shouting, “Oh, goodie, goodie, we can now have green fast food!!”

  • vote4changeASAP Oct 5, 2009

    Honestly, turning down the thermostat, driving electic cars, using special light bulbs will never offset the wasted fuel costs of purchasing raw food goods from one location, shipping them to another location for processing, reshipping them to another location for storage, shipping them to another location for reginal distribution, then shipping them from that location to the franchise.

    Oxymoron and stupid. If this attempt makes one feel better, then eat up.

  • krazykristie06 Oct 5, 2009

    The fries taste different to me.....they're still okay but different.

  • vote4changeASAP Oct 5, 2009


    "In 1890, the USDA estimated the nations cattle population at 60 million head."

    1890 US Eleventh Census Total population 62,622,250.

    Current total beef and dairy cattle population in US, 104.3 million and declining.

    2008 Estimate of US population, 304,059,724 and growing.


  • vote4changeASAP Oct 5, 2009

    Fast Food means PROCESSED.

    Claim the go green fad all you want. This is oxymoron.

  • zeke1969 Oct 5, 2009

    From your comments, your ignorance of the LEED certification is clear.
    The testing criteria are strict, and the results are real.
    WRAL does not have to do any testing or research if the building is LEED certified.

    Some people actually know what they are talking about when it comes to building that makes sense. The nonsense spewed here on golo about global warming and the earth being indestructible
    and the climate in a "cooling cycle" all belong on FOX, Rush and Hannity where the belong.

  • MrX-- Oct 5, 2009

    This is, at least partly, about "greenwashing" their image. If the green changes save them money (it would take more study than WRAL is willing to do to determine how it will take to recoup the costs from the supposed savings) then that's all well and good but the reason they are trying to publicize it is to parlay that green into another kind of green.