Interior Design Program


Date of this Version



Schmidt, S. (2015). Greening Restaurant Design: A Study of the Implementation of LEED Ceritification in Restaurant Design. Lincoln: University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Lindsey Bahe. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Shelly O. Schmidt


With a significant amount of interest in sustainability and green design in the commercial industry, this thesis examined the effects of the implementation of LEED certification specifically within the built environment of restaurants. Being one of the largest energy consumers and waste producers in the commercial retail industry, restaurant stakeholders have a social responsibility to safeguard the environment from such detriments imposed upon by the daily operations of their business. Yet, few owners have chosen to implement green practices or sustainable features into the design of their restaurant.

Case study comparisons of six restaurants, three LEED certified and three non-LEED certified, were conducted to examine the annual energy consumption and annual waste creation of each restaurant type to determine the effects on the business stakeholders as well as the Earth’s environment. A mixed-method approach using qualitative and quantitative research methods was utilized during the course of this study to determine accurate comparisons between each type of restaurant design and the effects on the environment of those which implemented LEED certification. For comparison purposes, the restaurants were grouped by service style: fast food, fast casual or casual dining and classified as either a LEED certified restaurant or non-LEED certified restaurant. A LEED certified restaurant and a non-LEED certified restaurant located in a similar geographical location of each other were chosen for each service style category for assessment. The data was categorized and evaluated according to each restaurant grouping.

The figures obtained and evaluated in the study substantiated LEED certified restaurants consume less energy and create less waste than the non-LEED certified restaurants, resulting in annual cost savings for LEED certified restaurants and implicating a reduced amount of negative impacts to the environment. Due to the number of restaurants operating in the United States, further research in the area of sustainable restaurant design is essential to the development of energy savings and waste reduction procedures in hopes of improving and safeguarding the environment for our future generations.

Adviser: Lindsey Bahe