Campus dining halls recognized for sustainability efforts

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

SoVi Dining Hall and Crown Commons were designated recently as “3 Star Certified Green Restaurants” by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national nonprofit organization helping restaurants to become more environmentally sustainable.

Currently, the Charlotte area has five GRA-designated facilities, and two of those are UNC Charlotte’s SoVi Dining Hall and Crown Commons. The University is one of five higher education institutions in North Carolina with a certified green restaurant.

Lindsay Klingenschmidt, wellness and sustainability specialist for UNC Charlotte’s Dining Services, said the GRA certification underscores the University’s commitment to sustainability. She noted that the student organization Charlotte Green Initiative provided support and funding for efforts to enable the two dining facilities to obtain their 3 Star Certified ranking.

GRA standards are based upon nearly 30 years of research into restaurants and the environment. Facilities are awarded points in eight categories: water efficiency, waste reduction/recycling, sustainable durable goods and building materials, sustainable food, energy, reusable/environmentally preferable disposables, chemical/pollution reduction and transparency and education. Collectively, the two dining halls received 404.54 “GreenPoints.”

Highlights of green accomplishments at SoVi and Crown Commons are:

  • Facilities are Styrofoam-free, which reduces harmful chemicals and litter in the environment
  • Composting of food waste and the recycling of plastics, glass, aluminum, cardboard and paper to keep up to 90 percent of waste out of landfills
  • More than 40 percent of the main dishes are vegetarian, which significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with the food
  • Eliminating bottled water and providing a bottle filling station, which encourages students to bring and reuse their own cups and water bottles, therefore not contributing to the four billion pounds of plastic bottles that end up in landfills each year

The Green Restaurant Association (GRA) is a national nonprofit organization that provides the only official Certified Green Restaurants mark in the country. Since 1990, the association 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.