The Sustainable Campus (Trends and Innovations)
Award-Winning Green Dining at UVA
Environmental sustainability is a fundamental
part the mission of University of Virginia (UVA) Dining/Aramark, guiding how they operate. The department established
a green dining program and a set of sustainable food purchasing
guidelines in 2008 and a full-time green dining coordinator
position in 2010. UVA Dining/Aramark prioritizes local/seasonal,
organic, humanely raised, and fairly traded food. Programs include
reusable mugs and to-go boxes, trayless dining, food donation and
composting in all back-of house locations, recycling cooking oil, utilizing
the Local Food Hub, outreach events, and partnering on zero
waste events. They participate in the Game Day Challenge: each fall
at the Homecoming Game, UVA Dining/Aramark, the Department
of Athletics, and UVA Sustainability partner to collect and divert
food waste from concessions and discarded recyclables.
In 2014, over 250 tons of food was composted and over 1,400
pounds of food was donated. They achieved Marine Stewardship
Council certification in 2014.
The department works each day to reduce its environmental
impact through practices that enrich and support the natural
environment across all 30 of its dining locations on its campus in
Charlottesville, VA. The Castle, one of those 30 locations, is the
first of its kind on UVA Grounds.
“We found that students were looking for more plant-based
options and wanted to create a sustainable café with an emphasis
on mindful eating,” says Brooke Kinsey, Aramark sustainability
coordinator at UVA.
With that in mind, The Castle went from a late-night burger
joint to a mindful café with fresh paninis, salads, and customizable
grain bowls. Those offerings—and wraps, sandwiches, and
combos, along with fruit-infused water—have all been selling
well. All materials in The Castle are compostable and payment is
via kiosk, eliminating the need for cash.
The space is designed to encourage mindful eating with a plant
wall, no TV screens, and a mindful reading library. Shortly after
The Castle’s opening, “we pursued our fourth Certified Green
Restaurant certification through the Green Restaurant Association
to highlight the environmental sustainability initiatives featured
in the café,” Kinsey explains.
Greening the Restaurant Industry
The Green Restaurant Association (GRA, www.dinegreen.com)
is a national nonprofit organization that provides the only official
Certified Green Restaurants mark in the U.S. Since 1990, the GRA
has pioneered the Green Restaurant movement and has been the
leading voice within the industry encouraging restaurants to listen
to consumer demand and green their operations using transparent,
science-based certification standards. With their turnkey certification
system, the GRA has made it easy for thousands of restaurants
to become more environmentally sustainable in a profitable manner.
The Castle was recently certified as a 3 Star Certified Green
Restaurant by the GRA. The Castle received 201.93 GreenPoints
on the GRA’s rigorous certification scale and implemented 43
environmental steps. Highlights of The Castle’s sustainable accomplishments
that led to the certification include:
- By not offering bottled water, the facility does not contribute to
the four billion pounds of plastic bottles that end up in landfills
- 100 percent of the lights in the facility are LEDs, which use up to
90 percent less energy, last longer, contain no mercury, and emit
fewer greenhouse gases than incandescent bulbs.
- Recycling plastics, glass, aluminum, cardboard, paper, and
kitchen scraps can keep up to 90 percent of generated waste out
- Each of the high-efficiency handwashing aerators save enough
water to fill over 3.5 swimming pools each year.
Three other UVA Dining/Aramark locations, in addition to
The Castle, are Certified Green Restaurants. The O’Hill Dining
Room and Fresh Food Co. have received 3 Star Certification for
commitments to purchasing local and sustainable food and beverages,
comprehensive waste reduction and diversion programs,
incentives for reusable to-go containers and mugs, and efficient
energy and water appliances throughout the buildings. The Fine
Arts Café—UVA’s flagship sustainability café—achieved a 2 Star
Certification for its plant-based menu featuring local and organic
ingredients, comprehensive waste reduction and diversion programs
including recycling, composting, and efficient energy and
water appliances throughout the café.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of College Planning & Management.