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Chipotle unveils all-electric, sustainable restaurant design

Chipotle’s new sustainable restaurant design includes rooftop solar panels.
Chipotle’s new sustainable restaurant design includes rooftop solar panels.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is going all in on renewable energy in its restaurants.

The quick-serve restaurant giant debuted an all-electric restaurant design to help reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The design works to maximize energy efficiency in its equipment and systems and utilizes 100% renewable energy from wind power and solar through the purchase of certified renewable energy credits.

The company recently opened restaurants with the new features in Gloucester, Va.,  and Jacksonville, Fla. A third location opening later this summer, in Castle Rock, Col.

Chipotle plans to have more than 100 of its new locations in 2024 utilize all-electric equipment and at least some additional elements from its new design. With a long-term goal of growing to 7,000 locations in North America, Chipotle said it will leverage its new restaurant openings to scale the company's overall impact. It also will continue to iterate on the new design as it gains operational feedback and insights.

Key features of Chipotle's new restaurant design concept include:

  • Rooftop solar panels, where feasible;
  • All-electric equipment and systems to replace gas power;
  • Heat pump water heaters;
  • Smaller electric cookline and improved exhaust hoods compared to other Chipotle kitchens;
  • Energy management systems (which have already been deployed in most existing restaurant locations);
  • Biodegradable service ware such as cutlery, straws, bowls, cups, and lids;
  • Cactus leather chairs;
  • Artwork made from recycled rice husks; and
  • Electric vehicle charging stations at select locations.

“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 afairs officer at Chipotle. "We are aiming to incorporate some elements of our responsible restaurant design into many of our new restaurant openings going forward."

The company’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions  50% by 2030 is based on its 2019 baseline of 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent across its supply chain and restaurants.

Chipotle has published its 2022 Sustainability Report, which showcases its efforts in three categories: people, food and animals, and the environment.

Chipotle had nearly 3,200 restaurants as of December 31, 2022, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. It is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants. 

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