While it's been predicted for years, we're starting to see conclusive proof that franchises are introducing green technology to cut costs and improve their public perception.
Rankings like the Franchise Direct Top 100 Global Franchises give extra consideration to franchises that have environmentally-friendly corporate ethos. I think after a bit of suspicion and uncertainty about the financial viability of operating green business, franchises, assisted by cheaper green technology, are now truly warming to eco-power.
Anyone researching the trends will notice that a lot of the country's leading franchises are rolling out their green revolutions in the South. Franchises like Subway and McDonald's have launched their green prototypes in states like New Hampshire and Florida. If these businesses can succeed, they can become a lightning rod for eco-business across the region.
What's perhaps most fascinating is that many of the franchises rolling out 'green stores' are working in the QSR sector. 'Fast food' franchises, more than any other franchise industry, have to deal frequently with lobby groups who disagree with the health of their product. So it's interesting to see that franchises like Chik-Fil-A, Subway and McDonald's have "embraced higher efficiency components" in the words of QSR web. I was particularly intrigued by this innovation introduced by McDonald's California franchisees, Tom and Candace Spiel:
The Spiels didn't want to be the only benefactors of their greening efforts, so they also added an in-store interactive display to educate customers about the restaurant's energy-efficient details.
The display, created by Iowa-based QA Graphics, includes an "Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard" which is anticipated to attain the Innovation in Design green education credit in the LEED certification process. It is the second McDonald's unit to incorporate a QA Graphics display for LEED credit, the first being in Cary, N.C.
"Not only does McDonald's earn an education credit for having this tool, but it's personally important to the Spiels," said Sarah Erdman, marketing director for QA Graphics. "The point of this is to pass this information on to customers. It's bright and fun for kids and it provides details that the general public can understand. LEED certification can be complex, but this has simple information about what makes this building sustainable."
Roger McClendon, sustainability officer with Yum! Brands, recently blogged about the changes that franchises like KFC are introducing. Their stores are committed to saving electricity and water, while preventing carbon emissions.
For franchises in 2011, going green just makes sense (and cents).