Green Buildings

Smarter & More Sustainable Restaurants


Every day across the world, seven new Yum! Brands restaurants open for the first time. That’s seven opportunities a day to think smart about building construction.

Yum!’s green building strategy is influenced by our belief that we have a responsibility to reduce our environmental impact and the resulting GHG emissions that contribute to climate change. Approximately 38 percent of new company- and franchisee-owned restaurants follow Yum!’s green building standards. As a result of green building activities in 2017, we expect to save an estimated 124,000 MWh of electricity and $18.3 million across the Yum! system in 2018.

We believe in building restaurants that not only allow us to serve great-tasting food, but also are employee- and customer-friendly, produce fewer emissions and waste and complement the natural environments in which they operate. These goals are frequently aligned. For example, better cooking equipment prepares food for customers faster. It also uses less power and generates less heat, which means less air conditioning is required. This reduces GHG emissions and saves franchisees money at the same time.

Yum! Brands has long maintained rigorous standards for the design and construction of green buildings that aim to reduce energy consumption and GHGs. Our standards, which guide restaurant development and renovation, incorporate relevant aspects of the U.S. Green Building Council’s globally recognized green building program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. We've tailored this globally recognized green building standard to the unique demands of our restaurants. We take into consideration green building methods, including energy-efficient equipment and methods, as well as guidance on minimizing urban heat islands, placing new restaurants near public transit services, using sustainable construction materials and educating both employees and consumers on green features.


Estimated new restaurants built using certified green building practices


Our standards are designed to recognize franchisees for what they can do, not what they can’t. We recognize that policies, utility pricing, approach feasibility and consumer preferences may differ greatly among our various markets, making various building standards more or less difficult to achieve. For this reason, brands and markets may adapt our recommendations to fit their unique workflows. KFC has done exactly this, creating a program using its own brand development standards referred to as KFC — Building Green. Building Green uses its own credit system to help KFC markets select credits that will make the greatest impact for the brand.

Our green building strategy focuses on new buildings, which allows us to build green from the start. We aim to make adoption easy by incorporating efficient operational features into restaurant templates and hosting workshops to explain the financial and environmental paybacks that are within franchisees’ reach. Over time, lessons learned are incorporated into remodels and existing restaurants. In 2017, Yum! and our franchisees invested $25 million in innovative technologies for new building construction to reduce energy usage and associated GHG emissions.

Engagement and Education at KFC Australia

KFC restaurants in Australia have long been leaders in building efficiency. The restaurants go well beyond efficient equipment and sustainable building design — they also offer an opportunity to engage employees about the importance of sustainability. Each time a new KFC opens in Australia, employees receive a welcome letter describing the restaurant’s sustainable features, plus a reusable coffee mug to encourage them to cut down on waste.

Efficient operation goes beyond simply installing efficient equipment. Restaurant general managers (RGMs) undergo training about the importance of reducing energy use, including instruction to switch on machinery only when it is needed, rather than upon arrival in the morning. RGMs also have access to online tools that track energy usage in 30-minute intervals, allowing them to make adjustments in real time. This system has been deployed across the majority of franchise restaurants.

LEED-certified KFC in Lidcombe, New South Wales

Restaurant owners also embrace initiatives that go beyond financial payback, such as tanks to collect rainwater for irrigation and bike racks to encourage environmentally friendly transportation. Low-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants create a healthier indoor environment, and windows installed in the cooking area help bring the outdoors into the kitchen. Franchisees are eager for more buildings like these: In 2018, KFC Australia hopes to achieve Building Green certification for 75 percent of its new restaurants.

KFC Malaysia LEEDs in Building Efficiency

When Malaysia’s government announced a nationwide commitment to sustainable growth, KFC wanted to be part of the solution. The construction of a new restaurant in Nilai Square began with the ambitious goal of incorporating as many green elements as possible into one building. The result was KFC Malaysia’s first green building, which opened in 2015. The restaurant uses solar energy to generate hot water for the kitchen. Natural sunlight, LED lighting and an integrated control system result in 35 percent less energy use than conventional lighting. Irrigation utilizes rainwater that is captured and reused. KFC is also working with upstream operators to convert used cooking oil into biodiesel and with local authorities on waste segregation.

Eco-friendly KFC in Nilai, Malaysia