Operational Improvements

The University shall undertake a continuous improvement process that seeks to meet the operation performance targets, goals and objectives designed to achieve sustainability.


Dining Services

Campus Operations


Intercampus Bus System

The University’s intercampus bus system transports students, employees, and guests free of charge from parking lots to various campus locations. The system reduces traffic congestion, improves system efficiency and saves an estimated 54 gallons of gasoline each day. Already an efficient system, recent improvements have resulted in increased efficiency with no drop in service. Plans for fall 2008 include an upgrade in bus size and occupancy as well as an introduction to hybrid buses.

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With programs such as the Helmets and Headlights and the recent addition of more bicycle racks across campus, the University of Minnesota encourages bicycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly and costeffective way for students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike to get around campus. The Helmets and Headlights program is a multidepartmental partnership that provides bicycle helmets and headlights to students, faculty and staff for an affordable price. Campus buses have bike racks that allow commuters to combining biking and busing, and fully enclosed bicycle storage lockers are available across campus.

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The University welcomes its visitors who arrive to campus by foot and works to maintain a pleasing and safe atmosphere for pedestrians. A free 24/7 escort service is available to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors. Most University buildings are also part of the Gopher Way, a complex system comprised of tunnels and skyways to allow for alternative transportation throughout any season.

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Flexible Fuel Vehicles

The University of Minnesota Fleet Services currently leads the country in converting a portion of its fleet to Flexible Fuel Vehicles as a major sustainability initiative. In response to the Congress Energy Policy Act, Fleet Services began purchasing vehicles compatible for cleaner fuel in 1995. And since the initial purchase of six vehicles, the number of E85 vehicles has grown substantially to 75, roughly 15 percent of the fleet. In fact, the University is one of the greatest users of E85 fuel with over 20,000 gallons pumped each year. The number of hybrid vehicles within the University Fleet has reached thirty and have become a popular vehicle of choice for rent.

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Vehicle Waste Program

Fleet Services makes every effort to reduce waste and use products un-harmful to the environment. The use of recycled motor oil and biodegradable parts washing solvent are just two of the many steps Fleet Services has taken to become environmental stewards.

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Locally Grown

In support of local agriculture, UDS has developed an on-going partnership with Midwest Food Alliance, an organization that provides certification of products grown with environmentally friendly and socially responsible agricultural practices. In 2010, UDS purchased 182,913 pounds of local produce, 45,980 pounds of local meat, 21,517 pounds of local bakery products and 919,554 gallons of local dairy products.

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Heartland Food Network

University Dining Services is a charter member of the Heartland Food Network. This network works to increase the availability and variety of local and organic foods through diverse distribution systems. UDS partners with the Heartland Food Network to bring new and exciting menus to the University of Minnesota at the Arboretum and Bistro West Restaurants. Third Thursday events are held every month at the Arboretum and Bistro West Restaurants to promote locally grown products and organic items. Bistro West also hosts monthly Guest Chef events, featuring local restaurant chefs who share a passion for cooking with locally grown foods. In addition to these events, guests can find locally grown and organic offerings daily at Bistro West Restaurant.

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Organic menu offerings are available at a variety of UDS retail dining locations, including residential C3 Markets in Centennial, Middlebrook, and Sanford Halls and Essentials Market in Blegen Hall and M deli in Coffman Union. In January 2008, UDS remodeled Essentials Market doubling the store’s space and product mix. The new store expansion includes a large organic food and beverage section, complete with organic sandwiches, salads, juices, yogurts, candies, and more. In 2007, UDS purchased 3,190 gallons of Organic Soy Milk. As well, UDS purchased 684 pounds of organic produce.

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Cage Free Eggs

In April 2007, UDS implemented cage free eggs in residential dining locations on the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus. Cage free eggs are produced from un-caged hens, raised in barns and other open environments. Greater availability of cage free eggs through existing purchasing relationships and growing trends in overall sustainability made purchasing cage free egg products more viable. In 2010, University Dining Services purchased 92,331 pounds of cage free eggs.

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Fair Trade

UDS’ fair trade support continues to expand on campus. UDS offers at least one fair trade coffee at every dining location on campus and also operates three Java City Eco-Grounds coffee locations – cafés that serve Fair Trade & Rainforest Alliance certified coffees and espresso drinks. M deli, located in Coffman Memorial Union, served 800 pounds of Peace Coffee in 2006. Peace Coffee roasted locally is fair trade, organic, and shade grown coffee, delivered fresh weekly by bicycle.

UDS’ recent partnership with Urban Ventures broadens our purchasing spectrum. In 2007, UDS purchased 1,200 pounds of CityKid Java true-trade coffee. Coffee purchased from Urban Ventures’ brand, City Kid Java, is “true trade;” meaning, coffee beans were purchased at or above fair trade industry cost. CityKid Java coffee is served in all UDS Residential Restaurants and Bistro West Restaurant. CityKid Java bean can also be purchased in UDS Residential C3 Markets, located in Centennial, Middlebrook and Sanford Halls.

In 2007, UDS purchased 7,157 pounds of Java City Fair Trade coffees, 2,830 pounds of Starbucks Fair Trade coffees, 2,934 pounds of Java City Rainforest Alliance coffees, 680 pounds of Dunn Bros Fair Trade coffee, and 800 pounds of Peace Coffee.

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Biodegradable Packaging

In September 2007, UDS began using biodegradable packaging for fountain beverages and express grab-n-go items. Minnesota Marketplace’s Greens To Go also converted to biodegradable salad bowls. The new GreenWare packaging is thermoformed from Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) – a polymer derived entirely from corn resin – and takes approximately 45 days to break down in compost piles. UDS plans to implement additional biodegradable packaging as greater availability for products through existing purchasing partnerships become available throughout the academic year. Recently, UDS introduced biodegradable straws and parfait cups. The items, made from PLA, are compostable and can be placed in green “Organics Recycling” bins in UDS dining locations.

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As a department, UDS works to source and implement ways to limit and properly dispose of waste in dining locations. From January – March 2007 alone, residential restaurants collected 57,000 tons of cardboard for recycling.

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Green Team

In conjunction with UDS’ evolving sustainability platform, UDS has developed a “Green Team” Internship Program to assist in research and customer engagement in Dining’s social responsibility and environmental efforts. Green Team interns are University of Minnesota students who have a passion for educating others about environmental responsibility. Green Team members work to provide education about organic composting, recycling and other UDS sustainability efforts for students, faculty, and staff on campus.

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Organic Composting

In September 2007, UDS implemented a pilot program, in partnership with UMN Waste Management and Hennepin County, to recycle compostable kitchen and dining room waste on campus. Eco-friendly waste, such as food scraps, napkins, paper, cardboard materials, and biodegradable packaging is collected in compostable trash bags and taken to the University’s composting site on the St. Paul campus. Composting reduces the amount of waste sent to incinerators and creates a beneficial product used to restore soil structure and reduce air and water pollution. In fall 2007, UDS collected over 78 tons of compost from participating kitchen and dining facilities. Currently, Bailey, Centennial, Comstock, Middlebrook, Pioneer, and Sanford Residential Restaurants, Coffman Union’s Minnesota Marketplace, and Terrace Café in the St. Paul Student Center are participating in the program. In November 2007, Carlson Dining in the Carlson School of Management, Bistro West Restaurant and the Continuing Education and Conference Center also became organic composting sites. Additional dining locations will be added throughout the academic year.

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UDS’ used trans-fat free cooking oil is recycled for bio-diesel products. In 2006, Centennial Residential Restaurant donated 1,200 gallons of used oil to be recycled. UDS has been cooking with trans-fat free oil in campus restaurant locations since 2005. In January 2008, UDS also switched to transfat free sprays, butters, margarines, and cooking oils in all dining locations.

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Paper Products

UDS venues use recycled paper napkins. In 2007, over 6,354,000 paper napkins made from recycled materials were used on campus. The amount of napkins purchased in 2007 is 846,000 less napkins than used in 2006. UDS restaurants and office locations also use 30 percent recycled paper. UDS 2007-2008 meal plan brochures were printed on recycled paper, using soy-based inks. Paper napkins are among the products being composted in Residential Restaurants, Coffman Memorial Union, St. Paul’s Terrace Café, Carlson Dining, Bistro West Restaurant, and Continuing Education & Conference Center dining areas.

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Housing and Residential Life

Housing & Residential Life proudly serves more than 6,400 students and staff for the year 2007, an increase in residents by more than 40 percent in the last ten years. This shift of students from commuters to campus community residents not only enhances the campus community, but also has a positive effect on the environment. Commuting vehicle mileage has been reduced by an estimated 25,000 miles per day saving nearly 1,000 gallons of gasoline daily.

While on campus, residents are further encouraged to contribute to sustainability efforts through a variety of incentives and programs in various forms. In 2007, a sustainability Committee comprised of students and staff was established in which members can express their ideas, concerns, and opinions about environmentally conscious policies and procedures within campus housing. Students also had the opportunity in the year 2007 to participate with their dorm/apartment complex in RecycleMania, a competition where over 200 colleges and universities throughout the United States compete to increase recycling and reduce waste on their campus. Recycling containers are continuously available in all residence halls for newspaper, office paper, aluminum cans, and bottles.

Building and maintenance materials within residence halls are selected for sustainability:

• Shower heads in all halls are equipped with flow restrictors
• Toilets are retrofitted with water efficient devices
• Specified water saver, high efficiency washers and dryers available for student laundry use
• Paper towels have been replaced with hand dryers
• Use of 100 percent recycled toilet paper
• Cleaning chemicals are environmentally friendly
• Lounge furniture and dining tables manufactured with wheat stems as core material and environmentally friendly materials 
• Old carpet is recycled into other products

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The University of Minnesota Landcare partners with local service provider, Rumpca Companies, to recycle waste wood materials. A space is provided on campus to store the wood waste and shredded material. Rumpca Companies grinds all the wood that is collected and the University uses the wood mulch around campus. This partnership saves the University approximately $10,000 annually in materials alone, in addition to the transportation to a disposal site.

During the winter cold and snowy season, University of Minnesota Landcare employs an anti-icing program to facilitate snow removal by mechanical means rather than using de-icing chemicals to melt the frozen precipitation. A liquid anti-icing product is applied prior to a forecasted storm to prevent the bonding of compacted snow to hard surfaces. The end result is less sand and chemicals entering the storm sewers.

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Campus Composting

Composting is an important effort of the University of Minnesota Landcare Department, making our campus more sustainable. All of the yard waste collected from the campus greenhouses is composted. It is then used around campus as mulch in annual and perennial beds to control the weed-seed germination, conserve water, and reduce the compaction effects of heavy rains and sprinkler irrigation. Composting keeps this waste out of the waste stream and incorporates it back into the environment. More than 220 tons of yard waste is collected annually.

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Delivery Consolidation

Operating 12 vehicles on the Twin Cities Campus and surrounding metropolitan area, University Delivery staff operates 12 vehicles and service more than 850 stops each day, eliminating 18-20 commercial trucks in the process. Reducing the number of trucks on campus reduces congestion, pollution, and cost, while increasing safety and making better use of resources.

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Materials Management

University Stores is collaborating with Facilities Management on a Par-Level/Custodial Materials Standardization project. This project aims to eliminate redundant products and processes in the custodial supply chain. This effort n reduces waste, and will incorporate Green Products whenever possible.

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Recycled Goods

University Stores offers University departments 30 percent post-consumer copy paper, 100 percent post-consumer copy paper, and remanufactured toner-cartridges are feature items in the large selection of recycled products. All of the custodial papers (toilet paper/paper towels) supplied to University departments meets or exceeds the EPA recycled guidelines. University Stores also works with departments to find recycled or remanufactured products to meet their needs.

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