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Leanne Ciccone wasn’t aware that Rize, the upscale café at the Center for Student Services that she visits “embarrassingly a lot,” is a four-star restaurant. Well, sort of. It wasn’t given that rating by Forbes or Michelin, but by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), and the stars honor the restaurant’s eco-friendly construction and practices.
“It puts merit behind what you eat,” says Ciccone (SED’16).
In fact, each of the three eateries at the Center for Student Services at 100 Bay State Rd.—Rize, Late Night Kitchen, and Fresh Food Company at Marciano Commons—earned more than 300 points and a four-star rating to qualify as a Certified Green Restaurant®. And last spring the GSU’s Union Court received a GRA three-star rating.
“The real advantage of third-party certifications is that other people are rigorously reviewing what you’re doing and giving you recognition,” says sustainability@BU director Dennis Carlberg. “You’re not just tooting your own horn.”
BU is the only university in the country with four-star rated restaurants, and is home to 3 of the 13 establishments to capture that designation nationwide. Harvard and Northeastern University also made the GRA’s list, but their eateries were given three stars.
“We’re beating ourselves,” Carlberg says. “And frankly we’d love to see a little more competition now that we’re raising the bar here.”
To qualify for certification, applicants must get at least 100 points across seven environmental standards: water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. They also must have a full-scale recycling program and swear off Styrofoam.
The Fresh Food Company topped the scoring with 329 points, Rize came in with 316, and Late Night Kitchen snagged 315. Winning features included the restaurants’ use of cage-free eggs, local food sourcing, daily vegan options, and abundance of vegetarian main dishes, which make up 30 percent of what’s served daily. The kitchens are outfitted with Energy Star appliances, water-efficient dishwashers and sink fixtures, and—perhaps most impressive—a state-of-the-art food pulper that collects scraps, centrifuges out wastewater, and deposits the remaining compost for later recovery by the recycling waste management company Save That Stuff. Those features are some of the reasons that the entire Center for Student Services is up for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Dining Services sustainability coordinator Sabrina Pashtan meticulously combed through GRA requirements and tracked each point the restaurants earned online. While the certification is gratifying, she says, such honors are not the reason the University chose to build sustainably or to buy fresh local produce. “Those are things we do already,” she says.
Back at Rize, Ciccone’s binders, books, and box of sidewalk chalk surround a napkin holder advertising the restaurant’s four-star status. She says she’s proud that her favorite hangout is green, but she’s particularly pleased that it has a tasty chicken Caesar salad.