EPA National Building Contest Kick-off Reception Tomorrow

At the start of May, I announced that the O'Hill Dining Hall building had been selected to participate in the 2011 EPA National Building Competition, an energy and conservation contest between almost 250 buildings across the country. We're a month in and striving to keep the building's energy consumption down as much as possible!

To keep everyone jazzed about this effort -- after all, the contest does run for several months and may fall off the radar in the meantime -- UVa Dining and UVa Facilities Management are hosting a reception tomorrow to celebrate our conservation achievements thus far. Please join us tomorrow, June 1st, between 2 and 4pm in the West Terrace Room (on the 2nd floor of O'Hill) for refreshments, giveaways, and the chance to learn more about greening your work space on Grounds. A building tour showcasing O'Hill's green features will also take place during the event.

For more details, see the UVa Calendar event and the UVa Today article about the competition.


Local Food Hubs Webinar

Summer has officially arrived on Grounds, now that graduation weekend is behind us -- congratulations to the class of 2011! Things are quieting down a bit around the Dining Admin office, so I am taking the opportunity to catch up on a webinar put on by the National Good Food Network that I missed last week.

This latest NGFN webinar is entitled "Food Hubs: Viable Regional Distribution Systems."

The webinar is full of interesting facts about food hubs' emergence as viable enterprises in the sustainable agriculture and food system, and features our community's very own Local Food Hub. UVa Dining is truly grateful to have access to this resource, and we are only reminded even more of our good fortune when it is advertised on a webinar available to a national audience! (Also note that right before minute 28, Kate Collier, Local Food Hub Director, names UVa Dining as being first on the list of their "top buyers" -- not a bad association for us to have.)

If you'd like to check out the webinar but don't have time to sit through the entire in-depth recording, NGFN has also made the presentation slides available for viewing via pdf.


Reusable Mug Punch Cards

As the semester draws to a close, there's still one sustainability program in which number of you can still participate: the reusable mug punch card program.

All you have to do is take a paper-writing or exam study break as usual, but this time when you're getting your caffeine fix at Alderman/Clark/Wilsdorf/etc, make sure you have your reusable mug and punch card in hand. If you don't yet have a card, just ask the cashier and he or she will happily supply you with one. From that point forward, use your reusable mug and get your card punched eight times, and you'll be eligible for two free drop coffees or tea drinks (in your reusable mug, of course!).

If you're going to be taking classes or otherwise working on Grounds this summer, hold on to that card (or get a new one after you fill your current card during finals) and use it at any of the following locations over the summer months:
Alderman Cafe
Java City at the Bookstore
West Range Cafe

For a complete listing of Dining's summer operating hours, see the pdf here.

Good luck with the remaining finals -- the end is in sight and the coffee will get you through!


Reusable To-Go Container Refunds

Thanks to all of you that participated in this year's Reusable To-Go program! If you'll be participating in the program again next year and feel comfortable holding on to your key cards over the summer, you're welcome to do so. If you don’t plan to participate in the program again next year (or don't want to risk losing the tags before August rolls back around), the time has come for your deposits to be refunded, as per the following instructions:

1. Dirty reusable containers must be rinsed out and returned to any of the participating Dining locations (Runk, Newcomb, Pav, O-Hill, Crossroads, The Castle, West Range Cafe, Fine Arts Cafe, and Wilsdorf) in exchange for your two key cards.

2. Key cards are to be brought back to the Dining Admin Office (ground floor of O-Hill, across the hall from the ID Office) between 9am and 4pm throughout the rest of the week and given to me or Accounting Manager Ben Koontz. Your $5 deposit will be refunded in cash. No partial refunds will be given.

3. Deposits will be refunded starting tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4th and continuing through the end of exams, Friday, May 13th. I will also be tabling during lunch in O-Hill Dining Hall for a couple of lunch periods (11am - 2pm) during exams: Monday, May 9 (today), and Wednesday, May 11; I will have a cash box for refunds and will be accepting key tags or go-to containers each of those days. Please email me if for any reason this time frame does not work for you and you need to make alternate arrangements.

Feel free to leave a comment or email me with any questions about this refund system, or any feedback -- both good or bad! -- you may have about your experience using reusable to-go containers this year. Thanks for your willingness to participate in this program and your help in shrinking UVa’s environmental footprint!


Local Food Hub Educational Farm Tour recap

Dining hosted another fun tour out to the Local Food Hub Educational Farm at Maple Hill this past Friday. It was a perfect way to celebrate the (almost) end of classes!

Farm apprentice Holly showed us around the chicken coop, the greenhouse, the innoculated log section, the workshop barn, and the six acres of field. The lettuce and asparagus straight from the ground were both delicious, and the irises and beets we were all invited to take home with us were much appreciated as well.

After the tour we helped to paint signs for the Food Hub's upcoming Plant Sale (taking place this Saturday, May 7th, at the Educational Farm), did a bit of mulching amongst the tomato plants, and topped the tomato stakes with cut tennis balls to reduce the chances of the delicate row cover catching and ripping on the stakes -- something that happened just recently on the farm. It seems to be situated in just the right location to bear the brunt of some pretty serious wind!

We made it back to Grounds just in time for folks to stop by the Fine Arts Cafe for a special reception and exhibit celebrating the culminating work of Arley Arrington and Sarah Tisdale for their Indian Summer project.

Good luck to all who are about to start exams!


O'Hill Selected as Participant in the EPA National Building Competition

The O'Hill building has been selected as a participant in the EPA National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings!

It’s joining almost 250 other driven, dedicated commercial building teams in a national race to reduce energy use throughout the summer. Buildings will be judged based on the percent energy reduction (adjusted for weather and building size) demonstrated between the baseline period of 09/01/09 – 08/31/10 and the comparison period of 09/01/10 – 08/31/11. Among the finalists, the building that demonstrates the largest adjusted percent reduction in energy use intensity (EUI) across this 24-month period will be recognized by EPA as the winner. Help get O’Hill to the finals by being a responsible building occupant and keeping your energy consumption low when possible!

The competition is officially underway today, and the official Battle of the Buildings website is a great place to learn more about the contest and the individual building competitors.

This national contest is timed nicely to align with a recently approved President's Sustainability Committee plan to make a formal commitment to reduce UVa's energy footprint. Both the Student Council and the Faculty Senate have now endorsed the plan, and the next step is to gain approval for it from the Board of Visitors. The specifics of the plan call for a 25% reduction in 2009 greenhouse gas levels by 2025. For now, special events and occasions like the EPA competition will help pave the way for these potential higher standards.