Section: News

Green is the new gold: AVI Kenyon receives distinction

Green is the new gold: AVI Kenyon receives distinction

By Nathaniel Shahan

Peirce has landed the title of three-star restaurant. No, this isn’t a Zagat or Michelin rating, but one from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a non-profit organization devoted to lessening the ecological impact of the restaurant industry. The GRA certifies restaurants around the country and ranks on a one- to four-star system. According to AVI Resident Director Kim Novak, Kenyon is the first college dining facility operated by AVI Fresh to be granted this distinction and one of only a handful of colleges, including Bates College in  Maine, to be certified by the GRA.

The application process began last academic year when Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman approached Manager of Business Services Fred Linger and Kenyon Inn Manager Tristan Haas about becoming certified — the Kenyon Inn received a two-star designation. Linger explained that Novak, former Kenyon Director of Sustainability Ed Neal and AVI Sustainability Assistant Herb Page compiled the extensive 18-page application.

Composed of seven categories — disposables, energy, food, furnishings and building materials, pollution and chemical reduction, waste and water — the application is based on a point system with points gained for good performance in each category. For example, under “food,” AVI Kenyon gained points for the significant percentage of its food that is locally sourced, which, along with the College’s composting initiatives, was a major factor in achieving the three-star certification, according to Novak.

The categories also take into consideration elements of the dining hall including water use, both in the kitchen and in bathrooms, energy use, waste disposal and building efficiency. Novak noted that Peirce gained points thanks to “a lot of things already in place, due to the Kenyon initiatives that we piggy-backed on,” including efficient lighting, landscaping and water use that are dictated by the College. Certain changes were made in order to meet efficiency standards. Novak said the application itself was not cheap and was also time intensive, that “most of it was just work to prove what we do here.” Novak, along with Page and Neal, had to document, certain specifics — everything from the gallons per flush of toilets to the presence of bike racks outside the building.

Certification must be renewed annually, but Novak believes payment has already been made for several years. She believes AVI Kenyon will stay at a three-star certification, but that they must work on publicizing the status. Linger also stressed the importance of advertising this certification, saying that “we just wanted the student body to understand it.”

According to Novak, “this was a Kenyon initiative” not suggested by the AVI Fresh corporation. Novak said AVI Kenyon will be an inspiration for other schools in the AVI Fresh network and she expects to assist other schools on getting certified.

Novak cited three main reasons for applying to the GRA for certification, that “it’s just better for the environment,” a sentiment echoed by Linger, who claimed a “sense of responsibility” was part of what drove the College to apply for this certification. The environmentally conscious nature of the Kenyon community also played a factor in the decision to certify. Lastly, Novak said this was simply a challenge Kohlman wanted see if Peirce could meet.

Linger said he was pleased with the ranking, though he said “how it carries weight from here I think it remains to be seen.” He was unsure whether or not the adoption of eco-friendly processes would save the College any money in the long run, saying that “sometimes sustainability actually costs more.” However, Novak still believes the GRA rating “is something to be very proud of,” and that “it created an awareness of what we can do better here.”


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