Subway Going 'Green': Franchisor now Opening Earth-Friendly 'Eco-Restaurants'

For years, Subway has prided itself on offering healthier fare for its customers. But now the brand is honing in on what it can do to promote a healthier planet. In fact, the franchisor now has 14 of its "Eco-Restaurants" open while many of its franchisees also implement a number of these "eco" elements into their existing stores. The overall goal of the eco-restaurants is a design that offers environmentally friendly aspects that help reduce energy, water, and waste consumption in cost effective ways.

"All of these new eco-restaurants reflect the brand's commitment to social responsibility and sustainability," says Marketing Director Elizabeth Stewart, who heads the brand's corporate social responsibility efforts. "We have made a commitment to make our restaurants and operations more environmentally responsible. As the largest franchise chain in the U.S., we know we can make a real difference and are working towards that goal."

A shining example of Subway's green initiative is franchisee Dr. Burhan Ghanayem. The retired environmental health scientist has a passion for conservation. He recently opened two of the new eco-restaurants in Cary and Durham, North Carolina, with his brother Marwan. Both restaurants are recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

"I have been a customer of Subway all my life," says Burhan, who co-owns a total of 10 Subways with his brother. "I love the food and the freshness. Compare our food to burgers and other fast food restaurants and ours is a lot healthier."

Burhan says his eco-restaurants are educational as well, even down to the automatic shut off faucets in the bathrooms. He plans to continue building the eco-friendly restaurants, with two more locations already on the horizon.

"I actually learned so much from building my first two eco-restaurants that I want to make my next even greener," says Burham. "I really care about the environment. If we can all chip in, we can really make a big difference."

He says the eco-restaurants cost about 10 percent more to build than a traditional restaurant. But adds, "I believe cost will decline as we as a country become more experienced in building such restaurants. In the long run, savings in the operational cost of eco-restaurants will more than compensate for the initial greater cost."

And it's more than just investments, expenses, and costs, he says. "Directly, there is less cost in running eco-restaurants by saving in electrical and water bills," he says. "In addition, the fact that eco-restaurants help preserve resources and contribute to environmental sustainability is something that provides a huge advantage to the society in general."

Look for Burham to continue to grow his operation through this earth-friendly manner. "I feel with the experience I gained in this area, I am more prepared to continue in this direction."

Forever green.

Published: December 14th, 2011

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