Housing, Dining Honored for Environmental Efforts

May 4, 2007 -- The University of Virginia’s Dining Services and Housing Division were accepted into the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program at the Environmental Enterprise level (E2), during a ceremony in the Lower West Oval Room of the Rotunda on April 26. The event recognized the departments for their environmentally friendly endeavors, including recycling efforts and a new “Eat Local” initiative to encourage buying more food locally.

Amy Owens, director of the Department of Environmental Quality’s valley regional office, presented the E2 awards to Director of Dining Services Brent Beringer and Chief Housing Officer Mark Doherty, commending them for their departments’ achievements.

“Having secured these recognitions, you demonstrate not only your commitments to compliance, but your commitment to go farther than that,” she said.

Dining, which administers 26 different facilities — cafeterias, cafés, snack bars, sports concessions, coffee shops and a bakery — has implemented efforts to measure and reduce food waste, a cooking oil recycling program and installing high-efficiency dishwashers and a pulper, rather than an industrial garbage disposal, which uses less water and removes food waste solids from the sewer system.

Housing, which maintains 43 units that accommodate more than 7,000 students and faculty each year, has reduced water consumption by installing low-flow washers and shower heads; improved water quality by minimizing fertilizer usage on lawns; replaced regular carpeting with recyclable carpet squares that allow replacement of single two-foot-square sections; increased participation in the “Chuck It For Charity” program, which collects unwanted furniture and household items that would otherwise be trashed during move-outs; and reduced energy consumption by installing energy efficient dryers and air conditioning units, converting halogen lights to fluorescents, prohibiting AC units in drafty, older dormitories and retrofitting older dormitory radiators with thermostat controls so rooms are not excessively heated.

Both Beringer and Doherty spoke on their departments’ achievements, and Beringer offered special thanks to Environmental Management Systems Coordinator Jess Wenger for her help in attaining the award.

“Our team worked very hard at this,” Beringer said, “and it is something that we have really taken to heart and hope to move on to the next part as we can.”

Parking & Transportation was the first unit at U.Va. to receive this DEQ award, which it won last year, noted U.Va. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Yoke San Reynolds in her comments at last Thursday’s ceremony.

Future energy-saving plans at U.Va. call for replacing an existing industrial chiller with one that uses a more eco-friendly refrigerant, continuing to purchase hybrids, golf carts and other vehicles that consume less fuel than traditional vehicles, and augmenting the already award-winning U.Va. recycling program by creating a printer toner recycling program for staff and student