Darden, which also owns Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse andother chains, says it will involve Leadership in Energy andEnvironmental Design standards in its newer restaurants forcertification by the US Green Building Council. Eight locations areinitially tabbed for LEED status over the next two years, includinga newly opened Olive Garden in Jonesboro, AR.

"While we may not seek LEED certification for every restaurantwe build or remodel, we can make a positive impact by learning fromthe eight restaurants where we are seeking LEED certification andapplying best practices across our entire portfolio," says SukSingh, Darden senior vice president of development. He says therestaurants, which are intended to last up to 30 years, should bebuilt in a sustainable manner from construction and operationalstandpoints.

LEED-related design elements will include: building materialswith recycled content, such as sheetrock, doors and windows; morewindows allowing natural light; energy efficient equipment andfixtures; and reclaimed heat from condensers on air-conditioningand freezer/cooler systems.

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