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QSR Feature
Green Build-Out
Making your store environmentally friendly could save you lots of cash.
A guide to Green Building for restaurants.

Whether you’re building from the ground up or simply upgrading your existing unit, the opportunities to make your restaurant green are practically endless. From the floors to the light bulbs to the kitchen sink, creating a sustainable business is not only great marketing, it’s also better for your bottom line in the long run.


One of the most visual ways to display your restaurant’s commitment to green building is with sustainably designed furniture.

A number of furniture companies are jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon and supplementing standard furniture options with sustainably sourced versions, but demand is still outpacing supply.

utility savings: N/A

Environmental Savings: Reduces depletion of natural resources, minimizes landfill waste

Options suited for the demands and needs of a quick-service-restaurant environment might be especially hard to find, but it helps to source as close as possible to your location to keep down shipping.

Using reclaimed or recycled furniture and ensuring new pieces are made from sustainably harvested wood or renewable materials, such as bamboo, are also good things to keep in mind. And if you can’t find just the right green product, try to work with your current suppliers to see if they will share your commitment to sustainability.

Wall Coverings

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Environmental Savings: Reduces harmful chemicals in the air

Utility savings: N/A

Environmental Savings: Reduces use of chemicals and saves resources

When it comes to wall coverings, using environmentally unfriendly materials doesn’t just hurt the environment. It can adversely affect the health of staff and customers as well.

Some paints and wallpaper glues contain harmful chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOC).

While it’s nearly impossible to eliminate VOCs completely, there are steps you can take to reduce levels in your restaurant. One way is to choose low-VOC paints (milk-, egg-, or vegetable-based paints, for example). With a number of options on the market, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice on style.

If you’re going for wallpaper, avoid vinyl varieties, especially in high-moisture areas—another source of VOCs. Instead, opt for natural and renewable paper sources, or use organic fabrics.

Greening your interior design could cost a little more and won’t provide the traditional return on investment like an energy-efficient light bulb, but it will make all the difference to your customers and crew.


Utility Savings: N/A

Environmental Savings: Saves useful materials from the landfill

utility Savings: N/A

Environmental Savings: Made from a highly renewable resource

One of the most important aspects of an eco-friendly eatery is the floor on which your staff and customers walk.

Probably the best way to reduce the impact flooring has on the environment is to use reclaimed materials. If reclaimed wood isn’t available and you’re still looking for wooden floors, the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable use of forest resources, can certify that the wood you use was procured from a well-managed forest. Bamboo is another green source for flooring. Unlike trees, it grows quickly enough to be considered a truly renewable resource. While traditional types might not be suited for the rigors of a commercial environment, woven varieties are improving in strength.

Other options include linoleum made from a natural material and ceramic tile, which can come from all-natural renewable sources or include recycled glass particles. Concrete is also an option, as it is highly recyclable. Just be sure to use a water-based stain and low-VOC polish or wax.

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