Brande is recognized for its sustainable restoration program which reduces the carbon footprint

Brande is recognized for its sustainable restoration program which reduces the carbon footprint

Photo / Mike Lovett

By Jarret BencksDecember 9, 2021

Brandeis was named the Campus Sustainability Achievement Award winner by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for its innovative sustainable restoration program.

By leveraging the negotiation process to select a new catering supplier when the university’s previous contract expired in 2019, Brandeis was able to institute new programs, policies and goals in his new contract with foodservice company Sodexo, which resulted in an unprecedented reduction of 20%. in its food carbon footprint in the first semester of the program.

The AASHE announced that Brandeis was shortlisted for the award from more than 360 entries on December 9. Brandeis had previously been named a finalist among schools with fewer than 10,000 registrations.

The changes and new initiatives implemented in the sustainable dining program included: reducing beef offerings on menus, organizing events to promote plant-based diets, increasing foods from local origin, the implementation of a food waste reduction program in the Brandeis kitchens and the increase in sustainable foods incorporated into menus.

“We have discovered that reducing the footprint of our food purchases is not only possible but easy,” said Mary Fisher, associate director of sustainability programs at Brandeis. “We have not heard any negative feedback from our students and the implementation of our pilot program during the spring semester, which resulted in a reduction of almost 50 tonnes of carbon, did not cost anything. An energy efficiency investment project with similar benefits would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. ”

The reduction in beef consumption has been a particularly remarkable achievement. The program aimed to reduce beef consumption – which has a significantly larger carbon footprint than most other meats – by 4 percent in its first year. By offering red meat less frequently and changing the recipe for the burgers – mixing them with locally sourced mushrooms and onions – ground beef consumption has dropped by 50%.

The new program started in the summer of 2019 when the university decided to launch a call for tenders for its catering contract. The RFP included sustainability language created by the Sustainability Office after extensive research. This ultimately resulted in a restoration contract with measurements and a rating for the sustainable restoration program. New menus were put in place in spring 2021.

“Very few institutions perform the same level of procurement review and analysis as we do. This is the key to moving forward and realizing the impact of our restoration program, ”said Fisher. “We serve thousands of meals on campus every day, which is almost a million pounds of food we buy each year. Food is therefore a crucial lever that we can use to reduce environmental and social impacts on the planet, in particular climate change. , through our food purchases.

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