May 2011

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Green McDonald’s Tells its Story

Using an interactive display to show customers why the new restaurant is sustainable and energy efficient.

  Sarah Erdman,
Marketing Director
QA Graphics 

The Riverside McDonald’s is the fourth McDonald’s restaurant in the U.S. to seek LEED® certification. This restaurant is one of nine owned and operated by Tom and Candace Spiel of McSpi, Inc. The restaurant reopened its doors in October, replacing the original McDonald’s of 44 years. It’s anticipated that the restaurant will achieve LEED® Gold status within the next year as part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s® (USGBC) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Retail New Construction.

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“We were inspired to rebuild our original restaurant according to the USGBC’s LEED-Gold standard to encourage and educate our customers on the importance of environmental sustainability,” said Tom Spiel, McDonald's owner/operator.   “For us, this is a way to give back to our community,” he adds.  “We hope that what we learn from this restaurant can be utilized to build more efficient and environmentally friendly restaurants in the future, which will then benefit more communities.”

As part of this certification, the Spiels looked to QA Graphics® for a fun and interactive way for their customers and team members to learn about the sustainable initiatives that make this McDonald’s restaurant ‘green’.  QA Graphics, a Midwest creative firm, provided their Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard®, which is anticipated to help attain the Innovation in Design green education credit.   The Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard is an interactive application similar to a website, used to display real-time energy efficiency information and educate about sustainable initiatives.

Energy Monitoring

We were impressed with the solution QA Graphics provided, including the ability to link the display to our solar photovoltaic array and provide real-time data of the energy generated from the solar array,” said Candace Spiel, McDonald's owner/operator.

As customers walk into the lobby of the McDonald’s they see the Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard displayed on a 42-inch LCD touchscreen, which they can interact with to learn more about the sustainable features used in the construction of the restaurant.  A virtual tour provides a 3D view of the outside of the restaurant, and then takes viewers inside, moving through the dining area, restrooms and back to the outside of the restaurant.   During the tour, different icons can be selected to learn about the sustainable features implemented at the restaurant.

For example, visitors can see that there are photovoltaic panels located on the carports outside, and watch a demonstration to understand how the photovoltaic system works.  Real-time data is also provided to show how much energy is being output by the system.   Other demos explain how Solatubes, solar hot water panels and porous pavers function at the restaurant. Also shown is education about the LED lighting and signage, recycled glass tile, EcoResin panels and rapidly renewable bamboo used throughout the dining area, as well as explaining what materials are made from recycled items, like  the countertops, floor tiles, and ceiling tiles.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] The reaction at the restaurant has been well received.  “From small children to senior citizens, this interactive display is used frequently,” said Candace Spiel, McDonald’s owner/operator. “Because it is easy to use and navigate, whatever the level of our customers’ computer skills, they are able to use the display to learn more about this McDonald’s and how they can be green in their personal lives.”

When visitors have learned about the different sustainable features, they can test their ‘green’ knowledge with a quiz.  Information for the local community is also provided, including a weather forecast and local maps identifying area schools, bus routes, bike paths and the Metro Rail. The Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard application for this McDonald’s can be viewed online at  

This is the second McDonald’s that QA Graphics has worked with to help engage restaurant patrons and educate about the restaurant’s sustainable features. The Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard is also utilized by the third U.S. LEED-certified McDonald’s in Cary, North Carolina.  QA Graphics’ solution has been named a 2010 top green building product by Environmental Design + Construction and Sustainable Facility magazines’ annual Readers Choice Awards as well as a 2010 top 10 green building product by award-winning independent news source Sustainable Industries. Learn more at

About QA Graphics
QA Graphics is an innovative graphic development company specializing in the green building industry.  The company is an industry leader in the design of award-winning energy education dashboards used to showcase organizations’ building performance and sustainable initiatives.  QA Graphics also provides comprehensive creative services including graphic outsourcing, 3D design/animation, drafting, virtual tours, multimedia solutions and other interactive content. Visit to learn more.


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