At a Glance


Food Services

Project Types

Clean and Renewable Energy, Commercial Energy Efficiency





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Net Present Value:


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Annual kWh Savings:

16,000,000 kWh

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Annual CO2 Reductions:

14,200 metric tons


Bowen Zhang helped create a strategic plan for energy management at McDonald’s China and suggested behavioral improvement opportunities for energy savings.


To operate McDonald’s China’s over 2,500 restaurants and serve its guests more than 600 million times per year, an enormous amount of energy is required. Having already cut down 23% of its energy use in the past 5 years, the company set out to achieve another ambitious goal of improving efficiency 12% by 2022, with annual capital restriction limited to $4 million. EDF Climate Corps fellow Bowen Zhang was enlisted to help develop a strategic energy management plan for controlling emissions. 


Zhang conducted a regression analysis to test the performance of the already-implemented energy efficiency projects: VFD ventilation systems and freezer heat recovery systems. Based off his analysis, he recommended roof thermal insulation and municipal heating retrofits for HVAC units. After analyzing hourly energy use data and observing on-site staff behaviors, Zhang suggested upgrading both the heater and the ice machine, as well as using online sockets for facility management.

He then researched national policies on emissions, including emission standards for lampblack, as well as wastewater and carbon emission trading systems. To improve efficiency, he suggested upgrading the kitchen ventilation system, purchasing emission insurance and mitigating risk.

Finally, by auditing McDonald’s carbon emission, Zhang helped McDonald’s realize its extra profit from energy efficiency improvement. A screening and scanning of efficiency improvement subsidies helped to relieve its energy saving budgets even further.

Potential Impact

By scaling up to its existing and newly built restaurants, Zhang’s recommendation have the potential to save roughly 18,790 MWh and 16,613 metric tons of CO2 annually. McDonald’s China is now better positioned to leverage potentially lowering tens of million yuan and have deeper influence to food chain industry as the company meets its goal of doubling its scale in 5 years. 

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