White Castle, a family-owned business since 1921, announced Oct. 6, that it was awarded LEED Gold certification for the interior improvements in its new home office, which opened in Columbus, Ohio, in November 2019. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and an international symbol of excellence.
“We’re extremely proud and humbled to receive LEED certification,” said Lisa Ingram, president and CEO of White Castle. “From the very start, we knew we wanted to create a space that operates sustainably and gives our team members a healthy, more comfortable place to work. That focus on building a clean and safe environment certainly means more today than we ever anticipated, and the certification confirms that we succeeded.”
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED certification ensures buildings employ design, construction and operations practices that improve environmental and human health. White Castle achieved LEED Gold for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions in areas including sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
For example, White Castle used building materials that have environmentally, economically and socially preferable life-cycle impacts, are responsibly extracted or sourced, and minimize the use and generation of harmful substances. White Castle also used low-emitting materials and finishes to ensure better air quality. Its waste-free café features all reusable cups, plates and silverware.
Elford, Inc. handled construction of the building, while Architectural Alliance designed the overall building and M+A Architects designed the building’s interior.
White Castle could not have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic during the design and construction of its new home office. Now the LEED certified building provides a safe environment for employees, giving them plenty of space for social distancing as well as excellent air circulation to minimize the possible airborne spread of the virus.
White Castle’s LEED Gold certification is an extension of the restaurant and retail company’s other sustainability efforts. The 99-year-old business has long adapted and transformed its business model in response to changing environmental issues. In the 1960s, for example, White Castle began re-using the boxes used to ship its Slider buns. That practice continues today, with White Castle reusing each box about five times. That simple practice saves White Castle – and the environment – more than 1 million new boxes each year.
In addition, White Castle uses paper sacks and cardboard packaging made from 100% recyclable material. It has taken steps to reduce energy and water consumption as well as CO2 emissions. It delivers used cooking oil to refiners of biodiesel oil and donates used marketing materials like posters and banners to schools for use in a variety of creative projects. More than 92% of White Castle’s restaurants have recycling programs.
“White Castle has always implemented innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment,” Ingram said. “Our new home office physically embodies our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and making the world more sustainable.”