Though it has more than a week since the upload of the last article about LEED certification, the author recognizes that half of the beauty of Internet publishing is the ease of access to old information which can complement the new. Hence, the show must go on, and this time around, he is talking about all the technological advances in construction, maintenance, and energy supply used at the Chick-fil-a he has taken an interest in. For the readers who may not be familiar with what he is talking about, go here for his initial article on the location, or here for his review on it.
So, without further ado, here is the list of all the awesome things the Montgomery Plaza FSU utilizes to make its carbon footprint even smaller than it already is.
When you enter
When you first enter the Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-a, it looks like any other store. But when you get down to the bare bones of the facility, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. Virtually the entire store, from the walls, to the signage, to even the insulation and dry wall, contains elements from other stores that were shipped in as a result of remodeling or demolition. Over 20% of all the materials used in construction came from other locations, causing the author and manager to jokingly call it "the Frankenstein Chick-fil-a."
This awning was brought in from a Chick-fil-a nearly one hundred miles away, and it also provides a great retro look to the exterior of the store. Other exterior materials that were recycled include the bricks, mortar, and glass for the windows.
Another great example of the lengths taken to use as much recycled material in construction as possible is the interior playground. Every piece of plastic used in the play area was brought in from other stores and fused locally using the Fort Worth work force.
This goes for the floor also. The rubber surface was recycled almost entirely from used tires in addition to other stores in the local area.
The Recycling Program
But Chick-fil-a didn't just limit their recycling efforts to construction. Recycling is an everyday part of life here. One of the biggest programs the company is implementing right now involves the iconic foam cups which may work wonders in keeping your drink cold, but really get the landfills full in a hurry. This program is currently in place in hundreds of stores around the country, and Chick-fil-a anticipates it to be working chainwide by 2020. Other recycling programs currently in testing include grilled chicken containers and the plastic utensils.
Chick-fil-a also goes to great lengths to reuse its cooking oil on a regular basis. Every drop of used peanut oil used for cooking fries and chicken is stored in a giant underground container, which is emptied every other month, shipped out to local refineries, and reprocessed for use in other Chick-fil-a stores and in automobiles.
The Green Bin
And every piece of cardboard and plastic in the storage room is deposited in a distinct green bin marked specifically for recyclable material by local sanitation authorities.
Salt of the sea
Even the salt and pepper shakers are made of recycled plastic, and the salt comes from the greatest renewable resource supplier on the planet: the oceans.
It is more than just containers that the Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-a recycles. The waste they save in daily maintenance is just the tip of the iceberg. They also go to great lengths to recycle their water. This traditional-looking manhole tucked neatly inside of the landscaping leads down into 3,000 gallon cistern which collects rainwater.
How it is gathered
The rainwater flows down into the cistern by two ways: by a street-level drain, much like this; or by a giant gathering cistern, similar to a plastic swimming pool, mounted securely on the roof which then directs the water into special gutters flowing down the store into the larger cistern underground.
All of this collected rainwater is used for every drop of water used in the store. Everything from the drink fountains, to the toilets and sinks uses it. But the biggest beneficiary of this system is the drip irrigation system present in buried pipelines around each plot dedicated to landscaping...
...which is completely occupied by drought-resistant plants, organisms capable of surviving the infamously brutal Texas summers. This results in a substantially smaller use of water resources, and also makes it easier for the store to avoid using the precious, and sometimes scant, water from the public aquifers.
When do you irrigate?
And the management never has to manually turn the irrigation system on or off. This computer system detects automatically when it is time to water, and when rain is about to happen so the plants always get just enough water to look healthy and strong.
The Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-a also takes great steps to limit its energy footprint. One of the biggest ways the store accomplishes this is the use of skylights throughout the entire store, including the kitchen. Although this may seem obvious/negligible, the implementation of this particular light source saves hundreds of dollars on energy. It also receives the greatest amount of positive attention from the guests. Due to the amount of light that fills the store, regulars and irregulars alike comment frequently to management how this particular store is "one of the most beautiful Chick-fil-a's they have ever been in."
The menu boards
This stress on energy-saving has also lead to the stores use of LED lighting for the menu boards. This particular energy source lasts substantially longer than incandescent light bulbs, while also casting a brighter, somewhat harsher, light that makes the menu items easier to see.
The Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-a is also making avid investments toward a future stressing public transportation. Outside the store, they have close access to not one, but two, public bus lanes where solar- and electric-powered buses can park and let off consumers who are going to Montgomery Plaza. They also possess three special parking spots reserved specifically for minivans and carpoolers.
The power of railroad
And, banking on Montgomery's Plaza original use as a railroad depot, with tracks in walking distance of the center, steps are also being taken by the city to expand the TRE and set up a stop right outside the store.
A cleaner, brighter future
Just like the Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-a monitors CO2 levels with this gauge, which indicates when to open and close the air conditioning vents, and encourage a cleaner work and eating space, so are many other stores around the country starting to copy these technologies in their own stores. Though overhead costs are slightly more expensive, the ability to make these green dreams a reality is becoming more accessible with each month, and the savings more than make up for initial start-up costs. Indeed, it is places like this particular store which are paving the way for many other stores to do precisely the same thing. It is only a matter of time before stores like this are no longer a rarity, and a part of everyday existence.
In the author's next article, he will be publishing an exclusive interview with the owner of the Montgomery Plaza Chick-fil-a, Mr. Bob Slone.