Applebee's Builds Green LEED Gold Certified Restaurant in Manhattan, Complete With Living Wall

exterior© Exterior/ Applebee's

It seems odd, writing about an Applebee's restaurant in TreeHugger; we don't usually have much to say about big chains other than complaining about their food sourcing. It seems odd, thinking that they might succeed in trendy Manhattan, but in fact their franchisee has 33 restaurants in the New York metropolitan area. It seems really odd, that they would put so much effort into building a LEED Gold certified restaurant that ticks off so many checks on the LEED checklist, it has everything but a bike rack. (See list at the end of the post).

living wall© Living Wall/ Applebee's
Most blogs have been gaga over the green living wall, shown a few weeks ago while the restaurant was still under construction, but I asked Rachael, their publicist, to send me more photos when it was closer to completion, so that readers could see other features.

The franchisee blurbs in a press release:

I am so proud we are continuing our green initiatives culminating in a LEED Certified Location! As we began construction on the 117th St. location, it became apparent that this needed to be New York City’s first USGBC LEED Gold Certified Restaurant. We felt it would pave the way for all other restaurants to move towards making environmentally-conscious upgrades. It’s about being a good neighbor, both locally and globally,” said Zane Tankel, Founder and CEO of Apple-Metro, Inc. “We are focusing on green practices and are on a regular schedule of renovating and remodeling our existing restaurants to ensure that Applebee’s in New York City is becoming more environmentally-friendly,” he added.

Inteior© Interior/ Applebee's

Unfortunately, you can't eat the decor. On the online menu, you can't even buy a salad without shrimp or chicken on it, same with the low calorie entrees. A truly green restaurant might look at its food sources, offer more vegetarian dishes, take shrimp off the menu and serve happy meat. But a franchisee probably can't control that, and the Applebee customers probably won't pay the price.

rooftop units© Rooftop units

People often complain that going for LEED is basically a "check the box" exercise. It's true, but there is nothing wrong with that, every one of those ticks is a good thing and it all adds up. Even bike racks.

Expanded List of LEED Gold Certified Elements:
Rainwater harvesting
White reflective rubber roof - partial
Larger Planters on small setback roof
Energy reduction
Daylight harvesting –Skylights and Rooftop Greenhouse that work in conjunction with sensors that control the lighting levels automatically
Automatic window shades
Green education – Touch screen
Waterless urinals
Tankless HW Heaters
LED light fixtures
Dimmer controls
Occupancy sensors
Energy star TV’s
Air curtains
LED Exterior Signs
Recycled foam in walk in cooler walls
Recycled PVC floor in the Kitchen and Recycled carpet in the Dining Room
Bamboo bar& counter tops
High R walls/Roofs – Metl Span
Eco power flushometers
High efficiency toilets
Daikin – Energy efficient Condensing Units and AHU’s with heat recovery
Air Purification Unit
Energy star equipment
Steel, Rebar, Drywall, Ceiling tiles, wallpaper, and flooring with a high recycled content
Rapidly renewable resources
Sourcing materials locally
Recycle construction debris’
Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring – CO2 Sensors
Stormwater design – Quality control
Heat island effect – roof
Water efficient landscape
Storage and collection of recyclables
Pulper and Extractor at the dishwashing unit
Heat Loss Recovery
VFD hood and HVAC Controls
Living walls
Reclaimed wood
Bamboo Chandeliers

Applebee's Builds Green LEED Gold Certified Restaurant in Manhattan, Complete With Living Wall
Don't know about the food, but the setting is pretty dramatic.

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