Darden’s new headquarters designed to LEED Gold standards

Orlando, Fla. Darden Restaurants celebrated the opening of its new Restaurant Support Center, which was designed to achieve Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction (NC) from the United States Green Building Council. Upon final certification, it will become the largest LEED Gold NC building in Florida.

Darden’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in the many sustainable design and construction elements found throughout the three-story, 469,000-sq.-ft. facility. Among them:

  • More than 90% of the waste generated from construction was recycled;

  • Use of systems such as a high-efficiency heating and air-conditioning system, and an automatic lighting system that dims or brightens according to the amount of sunlight entering the building will help reduce energy consumption by 16%

  • Increased use of natural light (daylighting) made possible by a 114,000-sq.-ft. glass curtainwall exterior;

  • Ahighly reflective roof system that reduces the heat island effect and helps maintain the building's interior temperature;

  • Restrooms and irrigation systems using reclaimed water -- saving nearly 2 million gallons of water annually; and

  • Landscaping features including a bio-soil that promotes water absorption and the use of native trees, plants and grasses that require minimal water

Darden partnered with developer Trammell Crow Co., architectural firm Perkins+Will and general contractor Hardin Construction to create an open environment that promotes greater collaboration, idea sharing and innovation.

For instance, the building was designed not to exceed three stories in height to allow employees to move easily between floors using multiple staircases. The staircases were also widened to allow for impromptu conversations without blocking the movement of others. And each of the development kitchens for Darden’s six restaurant brands is located adjacent to one another, allowing culinary staff to easily interact and share ideas.

“Beyond creating an environment that allows our employees to develop stronger working relationships and deliver even higher levels of support to our restaurants, we were committed to ensuring our employees had input and involvement in shaping the development of this project,” said Drew Madsen, president and COO of Darden. “We’re proud of the fact that many of the amenities found in our new home were the ones most requested by our employees.”

Amenities include a 5,000-sq.-ft. fitness center and a wellness center, both staffed by Florida Hospital; an on-campus dining facility; a 1/2-mile walking trail; and an on-site financial services center operated by Wachovia.

The facility, situated on a 57-acre campus, will house 1,300 employees who provide support to nearly 1,800 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 restaurants throughout North America. Within its new RSC, Darden will bring together all of its support-center personnel under one roof for the first time. Previously, employees worked in 12 different buildings spread across a two-mile radius