Chipotle Mexican Grill is aiming to boost sustainability by using 100% renewable energy in a new all electric restaurant design.
The new design works to maximize energy efficiency in its equipment and systems and uses solar and wind power through the purchase of certified renewable energy credits. The company recently opened restaurants with the new features in Gloucester, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida, with a third location opening later this summer in Castle Rock, Colorado1. The new restaurant design pilot will help Chipotle progress toward its science-based targets, established in alignment with Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), to reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 compared to a 2019 baseline.
Key features of Chipotle’s responsible 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.
- Electric vehicle charging stations at select locations.
With a goal of eventually growing to 7,000 locations in North America, Chipotle will leverage its new restaurant openings to scale the company’s overall impact. The restaurant chain plans to have more than 100 of its new locations in 2024 use all-electric equipment and at least some additional elements from its new design. The company will continue to innovate and iterate on the new design as it gains operational feedback and insights.
“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.”
To help meet its goal of reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions company-wide, Chipotle is instituting various additional initiatives, including:
- Standardizing the installation of energy management systems at every restaurant to manage heating and cooling, refrigeration temperatures and other equipment.
- Exploring greater use of low carbon fuels and adoption of renewable resources in logistics.
- Investing in projects to drive emission reductions in beef and dairy production.
- Exploring and developing strategies to support greater adoption of regenerative agriculture practices among supply chain partners.
- Developing plans for offering additional vegetarian and vegan menu items.
- Increasing the amount of local produce2 purchased in 2023 to a planned total of at least 36.4 million pounds.
Chipotle has also launched a new short film called “Human Nature” that will air as a national TV ad. The piece, created by Anomaly, features side-by-side shots of humans and nature, emphasizing their aesthetic similarities while conveying the importance of individuals reconnecting physically and emotionally with the environment.
“Since its founding in 1993, Chipotle’s mindset and approach to food has always been about working with, not against, nature and using real ingredients free of any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives,” said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer. “‘Human Nature celebrates how Chipotle serves food that is both good for you and better for the planet. Strengthening our connection with nature is key to producing responsibly raised food for generations to come.”
2022 Sustainability Report
Together with the launch of its new restaurant design and the “Human Nature” film, Chipotle published its 2022 Sustainability Report, which showcases its efforts in three categories: People, Food and Animals, and the Environment. The report covers Chipotle’s impact, progress, and goals in areas that play a critical role in its mission to Cultivate a Better World. To review the full report, visit chipotle.com/sustainability.
— Solar Builder magazine