Energy Efficiency

At Darden, we know that one of the ways we impact the planet is through our physical footprint at our more than 1,500 restaurants, nine distribution centers and our corporate headquarters. That’s why, in 2009, we established a set of environmental targets designed to drive progress on natural resource conservation. Since then, Darden has made strong progress toward our goals to reduce per-restaurant energy and water use by 15% by 2015. We have also taken steps to expand our recycling capacity and better understand our waste streams as we work toward our goal to one day send zero waste to landfill. These efforts are not only conserving natural resources, but financial ones as well: since 2009, Darden’s environmental efforts have saved the company more than $20 million.

Reduced Energy Use

Darden continues to drive energy efficiencies across our operations and, since FY2008, we have reduced our per restaurant energy use by more than 12%. Our energy efficiency improvements also translate into reductions in average greenhouse gas emissions: since FY2008, our per restaurant carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions have declined by 16.4% (from 612 metric tons of CO2e per restaurant in FY2008 to 512 metric tons of CO2e in FY2013).

In FY2014, we are expanding our pilot of Energy Management Systems from an initial ten restaurants to an additional 50. Through the monitoring of temperature, lighting and refrigeration in our restaurants, they are demonstrating effectiveness in decreasing energy consumption while also decreasing cost by up to 7%. Darden is also advancing a variety of other initiatives to reach our energy efficiency goal. We tested solar water heaters in select restaurants and began the design and construction of the first LEED-certified Yard House, located in Orlando, FL. Finally, we are continuing to expand use of more energy-efficient LED lighting and engaging our restaurant Safety and Sustainability Teams to use energy-efficient equipment "Power Up" procedures.

"Smarter" Restaurants

Over the last decade, Darden has used up-to-date Energy Management Systems (EMS) in our new buildings, making our restaurants "smarter" with automated lighting, heating and cooling. The goal is to ensure energy is always used as efficiently as possible, while maintaining the experience and environment our guests have come to expect. Beginning in FY2013, we will pilot updated EMS in approximately 10 older restaurants to determine the energy savings.

Lighting Efficiencies

After undertaking an effort in FY2009 to replace the incandescent bulbs in our kitchen areas with more energy efficient compact florescent bulbs, we launched a major initiative in FY2011 to convert all of the "front of house" lighting in our restaurants to significantly more energy efficient LED bulbs by FY2014. With dozens of light fixtures in each of our 1,500 restaurants this is no small investment or task. For some of our older restaurants, the wiring is not compatible with LEDs, so making the change necessitates updating the electrical system. When completed, we estimate the change we will save approximately 40,000 KWh of energy per year.

Sustainability Teams

Sustainability Teams, which are groups of employees in each of our restaurants that implement programs to reduce waste, energy and water usage, also help identify new ways to improve sustainability performance.