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Chipotle Earns the First LEED-Platinum Certification Awarded to a Restaurant

A Chipotle Mexican Grill in Illinois with its own wind turbine and a 2,500-gallon underground water cistern to harvest rainwater was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council at the organization's highest rating.

The Denver-based "fast-casual" dining chain of more than 860 restaurants and the USGBC announced the certification today.

The restaurant in Gurnee, Il., which opened last fall, is the first to receive the top green rating under the USGBC's retail pilot program for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards covering new construction.

LEED's four-tier green ratings start at basic certification and proceed to silver and gold before reaching the platinum level.

In addition to the 6 kilowatt wind turbine, which was expected to produce about 10 percent of the restaurant's energy and is now described as generating "a portion" of the power needed, the Gurnee restaurant features:
• LED lighting
• Water-saving faucets and toilets
• Energy Star-rated kitchen equipment
• Landscaping with native plants, which are irrigated with water captured in the cistern
• Parking lot asphalt that reflects the sun's heat instead of absorbing it
Chipotle started introducing energy efficiency and eco-friendly design elements in some of its buildings in 2001. Its first two restaurants that were constructed with green features are in Texas; one of them was featured in a case study by the utility Austin Energy.

The Gurnee restaurant and one that opened in a shopping in mall in Minnesota during the past year were designed to conform to LEED standards. According to the USGBC, Chipotle also has two further restaurant projects registered -- one in Seattle and one on Long Island.

The chain awaits word on LEED certification for the Minnesota and Long Island restaurants, a representative for the company said.

Image courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill.

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