Think of it as the Wendy’s of the Future — a formerly plain-looking burger joint on Airport Boulevard in Mobile that now finds itself selected as a “Showcase Project” for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge.
In late August the Wendco Group, which owns the location, unveiled a redesign that cut energy use per transaction by more than 50 percent and has already saved the store $8, 000 on overall energy, despite an 18 percent increase in electric utility rates, according to company figures.
The redesign earned Wendy’s Co. and Wendco, which operates 43 Wendy’s restaurants in Alabama and Florida, a nod from the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge. The program seeks to make commercial, public, industrial and residential buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade. Wendy’s is the first restaurant company to include franchisees in the Better Buildings Challenge.
In three years, Wendy’s has reduced energy use by implementing more than 1, 100 individual energy upgrade projects at more than 550 restaurants. The projects include the installation of LED lights in the interior and exterior, upgraded HVAC systems and installing more efficient motors in walk-in coolers. These actions have saved more than 13 million kilowatt hours, the amount of electricity to power nearly 1, 200 average U.S. homes for a year.
“The leadership demonstrated by Wendy’s and its franchisee is tremendous, ” says Maria T. Vargas, Better Buildings Challenge director, U.S. Department of Energy. “Not only is The Wendy’s Company focused on bettering its own corporate-level energy efficiency, it is doing so in a way that can reach thousands more restaurants.”
Text by Dave Helms