Green Restaurant Association Gives McGauvran Center Eatery ‘3 Star’ Rating

Prospective students tour the South Campus Dining Commons Image by Ed Brennen
Prospective students tour the South Campus Dining Commons, which has been recognized as the university's first '3 Star Certified Green Restaurant' by the Green Restaurant Association.

By Ed Brennen

The South Campus Dining Commons has been recognized as the university’s first “3 Star Certified Green Restaurant” by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national nonprofit organization that provides benchmarks for restaurants to become more environmentally responsible.

The dining hall, which opened in January as part of the $34 million McGauvran Center renovation, is in select company. There are just 26 restaurants across the state certified as “3 Star” — and only 16 at a university or college (the others including Harvard University, Boston University and Northeastern University).

Rich Lemoine, executive director of Administrative Services, Environmental & Emergency Management, says the five-year certification is the direct result of the commitment to sustainability shown by ( University Dining, which is managed by Aramark.

“This is a tremendous acknowledgement for UMass Lowell and Aramark’s sustainability efforts,” Lemoine says.

The GRA evaluates restaurants and awards “GreenPoints” for dozens of environmentally friendly steps across seven categories: water efficiency; waste reduction and recycling; sustainable durable goods and building materials; sustainable food; energy; reusable and environmentally preferable disposables; and chemical and pollution reduction.

A restaurant must receive 80 points to achieve the baseline “Level 1” status, 100 points to be certified “2 Star,” 175 points to be deemed “3 Star” and 300 points to receive the highest status of “4 Star” (of which there are only three in the state).

South Campus Dining received 253.32 points for completing 71 different steps. It received the most points (91.68) in the energy category, which includes steps such as using LED lamps and Energy Star appliances. The dining hall received 63.75 points in the waste category, thanks largely to its pre- and post-consumer recycling of food waste.

In the food category, South Campus Dining received 45.03 points thanks to its use of humanely raised and handled eggs and meat, along with its use of local produce like kale and petite greens from the Wainer Family Farm in Dartmouth.

Associate Director of Sustainability Ruairi O’Mahony says the certification provides a clear pathway for future steps that can be taken to increase environmental sustainability not only at South Campus Dining, but at dining halls across campus. 

“This is a great result from a collaborative approach between the Office of Sustainability and Dining Services, and one that we will continue to build on,” O’Mahony says.

Founded in 1990, the GRA has worked with thousands of restaurants across the United States and Canada over the past 25 years to research and refine its science-based certification standards.