UConn Dining Halls Receive Certifications & Awards for Sustainability

All eight of our dining halls have recently achieved the highest level of certification from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). UConn is the only campus in the United States to have every dining hall become four-star certified.

To achieve certification, UConn Dining had to meet several GRA requirements, including the implementation of sustainable practices in the following areas:

  • Energy Use
  • Water Efficiency
  • Waste Reduction
  • Reusables & Disposables
  • Chemical and Pollution Reduction
  • Food
  • Buildings & Furnishings
  • Education & Transparency

The GRA is a nonprofit organization that works to create an environmentally sustainable restaurant industry by helping restaurants become more environmentally responsible. Their standards reflect over 30 years of research in the field of restaurants and the environment.

The purpose of the GRA standards is to provide a transparent way to measure each restaurant’s environmental accomplishments, while providing a pathway for the next steps they can take to increase their environmental sustainability. Restaurants can earn GreenPoints™ in any of the eight categories below.  To become a Certified Green Restaurant®, enough GreenPoints™ must be earned across the categories.

UConn Dining has implemented several sustainable practices over the years, including trayless dining to reduce food waste and water usage, measuring pre-consumer waste, sending waste to be transformed into biogas and compost, and recycling cooking oil. Dining is also the largest procurer of local produce in Connecticut.

Below are just some of the practices that have been implemented in each category to achieve a four-star rating:

  • Energy Use – All dining rooms now have LED lighting, purchase Energy Star equipment as replacements and have installed strip curtains in all refrigeration and freezers to reduce energy loss.
  • Water Efficiency – Water use is calibrated for the appropriate job including sink aeration, low flow sprayers and dish washers.
  • Waste Reduction – UConn Dining uses china/glass/silver for meal service rather than disposable wares. Bulk packaging is used for over 80% of condiments, salt & pepper, etc.
  • Reusables & Disposables – Disposable products are made with a high content of recyclable materials and are bleach free.
  • Chemical and Pollution Reduction – Green Seal cleaning products are used in all operations. No idling policies are in place for the loading docks and smoking is designated to be at least 25’ away from buildings.
  • Food – UConn Dining serves a high percentage of vegan and vegetarian foods throughout the menu.
  • Buildings & Furnishings – Paints, coatings and building materials in renovations have low VOC, are high in recycled content and the construction debris is recycled.
  • Education & Transparency – The UConn Dining website and every dining hall has information about the Green Restaurant Association and proudly displays the star awards.

In addition, three of UConn’s Dining Halls have recently received awards from the Green Restaurant Association.

  • Putnam Dining Hall – winner of the 2023 Chemical and Pollution Reduction Award for being the Certified Green Restaurant® with the most GreenPoints™ in the Chemicals Category with 60.26 GreenPoints™.
  • Whitney Dining Hall – winner of the 2023 Waste Reduction Award for being the Certified Green Restaurant® with the most GreenPoints™ in the Waste Category with 78.85 GreenPoints™.
  • McMahon Dining – winner of the 2023 Water Conservation Award for being the Certified Green Restaurant® with the most GreenPoints™ in the Water Category with 44.29 GreenPoints™.

UConn Dining has also received recognition for its sustainable practices from other organizations, including the Sustainable Foodservice Leaders Award from the National Association of College and University Food Services and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge Award.

To learn more about more about the GRA points that each dining hall has achieved visit https://dining.uconn.edu/certified-green/