JMU Dining Renovations & more green

Thanh -- July 28th, 2008

A friend of mine who works at JMU got this message in their e-mail last week:

“Just a friendly reminder that D-Hall will close after dinner July 22 to upgrade the tray return area.  The renovation will increase capacity, making the process faster, and will include installation of a pulper, laying the groundwork for composting and other sustainability efforts.”

There appears to be a lot of “green” going on at JMU. Many of which were highlighted in the President’s Commission on Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship’s report titled “Enhancing Environmental Sustainability at JMU”. The report was completed and presented to President Linwood Rose last winter. (The report expected to be released to the public soon.) I have heard various faculty and staff at JMU preparing different plans in many different areas of operations to make their processes more sustainable.

The new construction taking place off University Boulevard is JMU’s new dining hall is going to be Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified. The following are elements of design and construction for the building:

  • bike racks and showers to encourage using alternative forms of transportation;
  • restoration of 50 percent of the site with native vegetation;
  • preservation of an area of open space equal to the building footprint;
  • stormwater quantity and quality control;
  • highly-reflective paving and roofing materials to reduce the Heat Island Effect;
  • water efficient landscaping consisting of native and drought-tolerant plant species;
  • water-efficient plumbing fixtures to reduce water use by at least 20 percent;
  • measurement and verification system to monitor energy and water use;
  • recycling of at least 50 percent of construction waste;
  • recycled content materials;
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood;
  • carbon dioxide sensors to provide adequate ventilation;
  • construction indoor air quality management;
  • low-emitting adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, and carpet; and
  • views for at least 90 percent of the regularly occupied spaces.

Here are some slideshow presentations I found online from JMU faculty and students describing some of JMUs efforts. On July 18th, JMU faculty presented a Green Energy Fair at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival. I corresponded via email with Emily Thomas, JMU Green Team, and she says there are plans to have another “No Drive Day” this Fall semester.

15 Responses to “JMU Dining Renovations & more green”

  1. Brooke says:

    Awesome, Awesome, Awesome!!!

  2. Andy says:

    JMU’s dining services could hardly get LESS green! Their restaurants generate tons of unnecessary waste by using disposables instead of washable (and reusable) plates, cups, and silverware. They have a looooooooooooong way to go to get to environmentally responsible.

  3. Josh says:

    A sorta kinda related blog post from Preston Lake developer’s blog on green building practices:

    How to Avoid “Green Washing”
    http://prestonlakeblog.fl-2.com/?p=37

    I hadn’t heard of “greenwashing” before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwash

  4. Brooke says:

    Oh, yeah, the whole “green washing” thing is very common. Even sillier are the carbon credits. Whereby someone can just pay some money to get “credit” for changes others make, and do absolutely nothing to change the way they live and operate.

    I do think it’s important not to buy into something *just* because it has the word “green” on it. Pretty soon it’ll be about as meaningful as the word “natural” which is also on pretty much everything these days, and often means absolutely nothing meaningful.

    The label isn’t as important as the facts that back up the claims.

  5. Josh says:

    Andy, Maybe JMU will one day implement a trayless initiative along the lines of what VT is doing:

    Virginia Tech Dining’s D2 and Shultz go trayless, reduce waste
    http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/story.php?relyear=2008&itemno=421

    “Where have they gone? It turns out that a trayless dining format, which has been growing in popularity on campuses across the country, can help reduce food waste by as much as 50 percent over the course of a year.”

    “Many schools credit the energy and water savings to the fact that without trays, students have to think more carefully before selecting their foods. This results in less food waste, as students are less likely to take foods they will not end up eating. As a result of the reduced food waste, less water and energy are spent cleaning trays and plates and processing uneaten food. Over the course of a year, these savings can help a school significantly reduce its impact on the environment.

    The advantages of going trayless aren’t just limited to the environment, however. Some schools anticipate that with an absence of trays and an increased awareness of food consumption, portions may begin to drop as well, resulting in healthier students and slimmer waistlines. Other schools expect that cutting back on food waste will allow them to save money on food in the long run — a savings they can then pass on to their students. “

  6. Brooke says:

    I agree with that statement, Andy, and I think that the goal should be something more along the lines of what Josh posted about Tech. Hopefully that’s the goal, and one day they’ll get there, but in the meantime, shouldn’t they get *some* credit for the positive changes and steps they are taking towards less waste?

  7. Andy says:

    JMU should *definitely* get credit for building a LEED certified building (is this their first?) and for the efforts of students and faculty to make the campus more environmentally friendly. I believe the dining operations are actually managed by Aramark, who need to do more about reducing waste in the dining rooms.

    Hey, if JMU goes trayless, what will the students use to slide down the hills when it snows?

  8. Frank J Witt says:

    After my first and ONLY interview with Aramark, I am thoroughly convinced they tried to reduce something alright…my paycheck. I was working at EMU thru Pioneer College Caterers and making a polite $10.75…3 years ago. When I applied for a management job at JMU the guy offered me a measly $8.25 ! When asked about the difference between salaries and position, he told “Hey, in 2 1/2 years, you will about where you are now.”
    Anyway…I like the idea of better/healthier practices. Now, did I see that our garbage man actually took out the plastic containers that we had plants and threw them into our regular garbage instead of leaving them in our recycle bin? Yep, don’t understand it but I’m sure he knows what he is doing. They used to come and empty the recycle bins at the restaurant too…until we had to keep digging all the trash out that the “kids” were throwing in them.

    Oh yeah, went to the farmer’s market this morning and bought some fresh green beans, some Italian “L” peppers and green peppers and 1 small cantaloupe. Some guy actually was asking $5 / pound for green beans…I didn’t mind paying $3 but $5 is a little off base. Today’s dinner …Fresh Wild Caught Salmon, Fresh Green Beans and pepper Combo w/ Ms. Dash providing the seasoning (Fat Free) and a cubed Cantaloupe and Seedless Watermelon salad with an Orange Cream Yogurt dip….MMMMMM

  9. Scott Rogers says:

    >> JMU’s dining services could hardly get LESS green!

    I’m not sure I agree…

    >> Their restaurants generate tons of unnecessary waste by using disposables instead of washable (and reusable) plates, cups, and silverware.

    Their largest dining facility, D-Hall, has had washable and reusable plates, cups and silverware as long as I can remember. I believe back in 1996 when I started at JMU they were using those washable/reusable items, and when I ate there a month or so ago, the same was true.

    Some of their other dining facilities might not have the same set up, but I think it’s notable that the main facility does.

  10. Josh says:

    Frank: You should start a food blog! :)

  11. Thanh says:

    Frank, in response to your comment about the plastic plant containers and recycling: The City only accepts Plastics #1 and #2. I am guessing, and I don’t know this for a fact because I wasn’t there, but the Sanitation guys were probably throwing the containers in the trash because they were not #1 or #2. (Unfortunately, Harrisonburg like many other localities can only accept those containers for which they have a market for/ a buyer for the materials.)

    The numbers denoting what kind of plastic a container is can be found generally on the underside of a container. If anyone is curious what those numbers mean, please read this: http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/187/1/Recycling-by-the-numbers.html.


    Scott, I’m not disagreeing with you, but just wanted to add that although I haven’t been at JMU in a long time, when I was a student there all of their dining halls other than D-hall used disposable containers. It was pretty wasteful. (On the flip side, JMU does try to encourage students to use reusable containers for drinks – they give the cups out for free and its up to the student to bring them back. There might also be a discount provided to those students.)

    Additionally, I think D-hall could go a long way if and when they decide to no longer to use trays. It would save a lot of water and energy (to heat the water and run sprayers). But I don’t doubt that they’ve already made these considerations -whether they continue to use trays or not I don’t know for sure.


    Thanks Josh for posting that article about Virginia Tech. I’ve heard about them going trayless, but never looked it up. I like the impact that going trayless also has on food portion control.

  12. Scott Rogers says:

    Thanh — I agree, it is less than ideal that disposal containers are used at the other dining facilities!

    Here’s another tidbit that someone was recently telling me about — last year JMU (or Aramark?) started offering (possibly for $1) reusable canvas bags to take food orders to go from their dining facilities. They are similar in concept to the canvas bags available at Martins, Walmart, etc, but smaller (to easily fit lunch items), and able to be conveniently rolled up or packed up into a very small size to fit in a backpack. I was impressed, but haven’t seen one for myself yet.

  13. Frank J Witt says:

    it is a shame that all things recyclable are not just that…recyclable…but they do a great job!

  14. Thanh says:

    I hadn’t heard anything about JMU offering reusable canvas bags, but I did read on the EMU website that EMU last year sold reusable cloth shopping bags that apparently got sold really quick. Read more: http://www.emu.edu/news/index.php/1567/begreen

    And while I am on the topic of EMU – I’d like to mention that EMU has done a lot in the green arena and credit should be given to them too! :o)

    I suppose we/our community focuses a lot of our attention on JMU because of its size and therefore larger impact on us. Comparatively speaking, EMU is a lot smaller than JMU – 1,600 students versus 17,000+ students, 97 acres versus 655 acres, 50 buildings versus 102+ buildings. Anyway… about EMU, here is their “be green” website, http://www.emu.edu/begreen/ with information on their plans to renovate the Suter Science Center also to be LEED certified http://www.emu.edu/crossroads/summer08/science-center.pdf (cool picture), http://www.emu.edu/begreen/build (details).

    I had a meeting a few weeks ago with Eldon Kurtz, EMU’s Physical Plant Director, and he shared with me some of the ideas and plans that EMU staff have for the campus. Things related to more energy efficient buildings (with renovations and rebuilds) and improved stormwater management and water reuse on the school’s turf.

    While I was visiting the EMU campus I was really impressed with the number and types of gardens and ponds they have, as well as this riparian buffer area the students and faculty/staff created: http://www.harrisonburgva.gov/index.php?id=1215. I was also really impressed with how environmentally conscience their faculty and staff are. Its wonderful.

    Here’s an article from the DNR from last year about EMU ranking in energy efficiency. http://www.dnronline.com/news_details.php?AID=11518&CHID=2

  15. Thanh says:

    Here’s an article from this weekend about the new Suter Science Center, http://www.dnronline.com/news_details.php?AID=30358&CHID=2.

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