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Kenova Taco Bell on the cutting edge

Jul. 14, 2012 @ 10:52 PM

KENOVA — Taco Bell has long since replaced its one-time slogan, "Make a run for the border," but its newest location in Kenova, at the I-64 border of West Virginia and Kentucky, is one they hope everyone will head for. In fact, company representatives said this Taco Bell isn't like any you've ever experienced.

Green initiatives at the 3,000-square-foot eatery, ranging from LED lamps inside and out to a recirculating waterfall in the drive-through, are being tested at the location. The goal is to minimize everything from water flow to energy use in a modern, unobtrusive atmosphere.

"Taco Bell is really trying to 'up' it here with this restaurant," said architect Eric Clevenger. "They've put some of these green initiatives in place in other locations, but this is the first time they've bought it all together in one spot."

Clevenger took The Herald-Dispatch on a tour of the restaurant Wednesday, pointing out strategies used to maximize energy performance, increase efficiency and harvest free energy. Among the techniques are the use of Comfort E2 glass, which insulates in the winter and assists in cooling in the summer; LED lamps from the dining room to the menu boards to the parking lot; and, solar tubes, a high-performance daylighting system that uses advanced optics to improve the way daylight in harnessed.

"The E-glass acts almost like a shield, bouncing off the heat or the cold and retaining the proper temperature indoors," Clevenger said. "It's much more energy efficient."

The lighting design for the restaurant uses LED lamps inside and out, some of which won't need replaced for more than 20 years. Lighting sensors in the dining room will monitor the amount of natural light coming in and adjust the interior lighting accordingly.

"These help us bring in natural light and also come with an energy savings of at least 80 percent," Clevenger said. "It puts off a clean, crisp white light."

The energy-efficient features extend into the restaurant's restrooms, which feature occupancy sensors that turn on and off as guests enter or leave and Dyson Airblade touch hand dryers that produce 70 percent less carbon emissions and use sheets of cool, cleaned air to "scrape" water from guests' hands.

In the kitchen, Energy Star appliances have been installed along with energy-efficient, low-mount individual hoods that ensure air flow from the restaurant's heating and cooling system is not displaced. Tankless water heaters are in place to heat water as needed, replacing antiquated water heaters of the past. High-efficiency fixtures such as ice makers, low flow pre-rinse sprayers, faucets and sinks are also installed.

The dining room features a lounge area, flatscreen televisions, seating for 70 and a bell table with power outlet and Wi-Fi access.

Even the outdoor area is receiving an upgrade, with three courtyards with outdoor dining and a water fountain and drive-through waterfall featuring recirculated water and large rocks left from the work site. While more restaurants have an asphalt roof, this location uses a roof with a white rubber interior. It is a more expensive product, Clevenger said, but is a longer-term product and deflects the sun's heat, reducing the overall energy used to cool the building. A concrete parking lot, more expensive than asphalt, reflects heat rather than absorbs it. The restaurant will also feature bike racks outside the front entrance.

Materials used in construction of the Kenova Taco Bell were produced or manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the restaurant, including brick, stone, tile, concrete and windows. The interior furnishings were all constructed in Joplin, Mo.

"Corporate will be analyzing how things go and how each piece works," Clevenger said of the company's new prototype. "There's a little more 'oomph' to things here. They want to encourage people to come in, relax and hang out a little bit longer. This is not your typical Taco Bell."

Clevenger added that the location will hire 50 employees, including management team members. For more information, call 304-453-1000. The Kenova Taco Bell is expected to open by mid-August.

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