As of this semester, all eight UConn dining halls have been approved as Certified Green Restaurants. UConn is one of the only public universities in the nation to have obtained this certification. UConn Dining Services continually proves they consider the environment to be a top priority. For example, Dining Services won three environmental leadership awards in 2016. This new certification is yet another reminder of the steps they take to improve our school and help the environment and we must make it our inspiration to do the same.
The Green Restaurants Association (GRA) took into account the energy, water, waste and chemicals our dining halls utilize and more in order to certify them. This certification required Dining Services to analyze all aspects of the dining halls, from which type of light bulbs are used to the extent that they order from local food vendors. It is great that Dining Services considered its effects on the environment during this process and that it had the motivation to look at its actions with such scrutiny in order to receive this certification.
The GRA requires that for restaurants to be certified, frying oil waste be made into biodiesel fuel. This was one of the biggest hurdles in the certification. The university was utilizing a rendering company to process the frying oil, but the end product was not biodiesel fuel. In order to make this transition, Dining Services had to go through a bidding process to find a new company that would process the oil. This GRA requirement is extremely beneficial in various ways. First, Dining Services is able to find a great use for the oil once it has been used. It also enables a great transition that others are making to utilize biodiesel fuel in their automobiles. This is a renewable energy resource that releases lower levels of carbon dioxide when it is burned. Dining Services’ switch to have its waste oil processed into biodiesel aids the environment through many facets.
The Director of Dining Services, Dennis Pierce says that they want to continue to make improvements through getting the UConn Cafes and food court GRA certified as well. Their ambition to lessen their impact on the environment and continually make improvements should serve as an inspiration to students. UConn Dining Services has made the environment a priority, and that is a goal we all should have.