After an energy summit three years ago, Subway started looking at ways to reduce the worldwide carbon footprint for the chain's 29,000 locations.
One of the first steps was to redesign the company's supply-chain operation, which the company says saves about 1.6 million gallons of diesel fuel a year. It also switched to 100 percent recyclable napkins, helping to save an estimated 140,000 trees annually. By redesigning its shipping packaging, it cut out more than 97,000 pounds of plastic a year.
The Milford, Conn.-based company also switched to environmentally friendly cup carriers, salad bowls, utensils and paper towels. It redesigned condiment containers and began using eco-friendly cleaning solutions.
And last year, it began building Subway Eco-Stores.
Subway worked closely with the U.S. Green Building Council to design and build a store that conserves energy and water and meets the highest green building and performance standards.
The company's first Eco-Store, which opened in November 2007 in Kissimmee, Fla., features low-VOC paints and sealants, wood trim from managed forests, energy-efficient LED track lighting and pendant lights with compact fluorescent bulbs. Its windows are film-coated to block ultraviolet light, and solar tubes on the roof convert sunlight for auxiliary lighting.
Other energy-saving features include a high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, low-flow toilets, faucet aerators, motion-sensor restroom lighting, automatic faucets, remote condensing units and ice machines and on-demand water heating systems.
Customers liked the first Subway Eco-Store so much that Subway built Eco-Stores in St. Helens, Ore., and Keizer, Ore., and it plans a fourth in Laplace, La.
To ensure construction proceeded smoothly, the company used LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified consultants and met regularly with architects, engineers and contractors. That's critical to success, says Brad Davis, equipment manager for Subway's Independent Purchasing Cooperative. Davis offers advice to other operators: "When building green, do your homework up front. Make sure you understand the process before you jump in, and use LEED-accredited professionals."
Get more on Subway's sustainability's efforts, including a video on the building of the company's first Eco-Store.