Date August 2, 2016
Media Contact

Brown dining venues among first green-certified eateries in Rhode Island

Five of the University’s dining facilities earned certification from the Green Restaurant Association for sustainability practices including recycling, composting, energy use and more.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In recognition of the University’s sustainable approach to dining services, two dining venues at Brown earned three-star certifications from the Green Restaurant Association this month — an accomplishment no other restaurant in Rhode Island has achieved.

Sharpe Refectory and Verney-Woolley landed the second highest honor in the the four-star system. Josiah’s and the Blue Room earned two-star certifications, and Andrews Commons earned a one-star rating.

The recognition aligns with Brown’s campus-wide commitment to sustainability, said Bob Chase, facilities and sustainability manager, and will resonate with students, faculty and staff.

“For millennials, and even for staff and faculty, this could be a differentiator because people are starting to demand that their products, their companies, their schools and their governments are more sustainable and that sustainability is factored into the bottom line,” Chase said.

He said Brown’s achievements in sustainability come with environmental, social and even financial benefits.

“If you look at the sustainability report, you’ll see that we are eliminating bottled water use, increasing recycling, increasing composting, decreasing energy use, and decreasing our carbon footprint,” Chase said.

The Green Restaurant Association takes a robust approach to evaluating restaurants’ sustainability practices. Some of the specific factors the association examines include energy and water usage, waste inefficiencies, use of disposable and reusable goods, efforts to reduce chemical and pollution contamination, food sources and building efficiency.

Brown is the third Ivy League school to achieve certification from the organization. But earning high marks in the evaluation — in which inspectors take an extensive in-person tour of the University’s dining facilities — is not easy, Chase said. The review at Sharpe Refectory alone took three hours.

“The process is very granular,” Chase said. “We have literally gone to the point of switching out the spray nozzles so that the rate of water decreases and you use less water each time.”

Dining Services initiated the certification process in an effort to learn how the University could improve its sustainability efforts. As part of the process, the association produced an exhaustive report that gave insights into key areas for growth in green practices. Along with the certifications for existing efforts, the report identified areas that can be improved in the future.

“Right now we are looking at replacing lighting systems and faucets to reduce water waste,” Chase said. “There is always room for improvement.”

In total, the University has 11 dining venues, but six weren’t considered because they are not full-fledged eateries.