American Colleges and Universities Begin Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Dining Services Using New CHEFS Tool
PORTSMOUTH, N.H., March 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Sustainability is an increasingly important focus for leading U.S. colleges and universities, and many are finding that meeting campus sustainability commitments means engaging various campus departments, including the administration and dining services.
Through a partnership with ARAMARK, a leading professional services provider to 600 colleges and universities across North America, Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) helped streamline schools’ efforts to quantify the environmental effects related to food on North American college campuses by researching its impact from growing, producing, transporting, preparing and disposal. Clean Air-Cool Planet recently released a beta version of “CHEFS” – Charting Emissions through Food Services which is now publicly available online at no cost at http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/chefs/
In 2009, twelve US colleges across the U.S. piloted a CHEFS prototype (Arizona State University, Boston University, Grand Valley State University, Furman University, New York University, The Evergreen State College, University of Florida, University of New Hampshire, Vassar College, Wesley College, and Yale University). The schools were asked to gather information about the farming methods, geographic source, processing needs and overall supply chain of 100 of the most commonly served menu items on their college campuses. According to the findings:
- the “footprint” of campus dining services is substantial
- “food miles”–the distance which food had to travel to reach the campus–is not necessarily the most significant driver of food’s ecological impact
- food supply chains are broad and complex
The 2009 CHEFS pilot program confirmed food’s significance to a campus’ carbon footprint. For example, at one of the pilot schools, the annual emissions equivalent from producing only 26 food products (out of an estimated 800-1000 purchased), equaled 2.5% of the total annual emissions from campus-wide operations.
“The CHEFS tool represents Clean Air-Cool Planet’s approach to pragmatic, data-driven carbon management. Our goal is to help everyone on campus–from the students to the dining managers–move beyond buzz-words like ‘local’ or ‘organic’ to objectively understand and demonstrate the impacts of their choices,” said Adam Markham, CEO of Clean Air-Cool Planet .
Results of the 2009 pilot project enabled CA-CP to launch the new publicly-available beta version of the free CHEFS tool, and helped the participating pilot schools begin to understand the impact of their dining service operations in the context of their overall carbon management efforts. Participation by ten of the pilot schools was made possible by ARAMARK Higher Education, a founding sponsor of the CHEFS tool.
“ARAMARK is proud to partner with Clean-Air Cool Planet to help provide colleges and universities with the tools needed to understand the environmental impact of their dining program,” said Christopher Stemen, Associate Vice President of Sustainability, ARAMARK. “This tool allows for the collection of valuable data that helps everyone to make informed decisions about the environmental impact of the foods that are served and selected on their campuses,”
More schools are scheduled to put CHEFS to the test in 2012. The unique power of the CHEFS tool, especially as our database of products grows, is to highlight the differences between specific food items. For example, we now know that growing and delivering a pound of carrots produces about six times more greenhouse gas emissions than a pound of tomatoes, while onions and potatoes yield the smallest footprints.
Once the CHEFSbeta tool has been fully tested, CHEFS will be integrated with CA-CP’s Campus Carbon Calculator(TM), a greenhouse gas calculator used at over 2,000 educational institutions across North America. The Campus Carbon Calculator(TM) is the inventory tool of record for the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). A menu labeling system is also in development to empower campuses to easily apply CHEFS data to their everyday operations and educate users in dining halls to make healthy choices for themselves and the planet.
About Clean Air – Cool Planet
Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) is the leading organization dedicated solely to finding and promoting solutions to global warming. We partner with companies, campuses, communities and science centers to help reduce their carbon emissions. CA-CP helps partners, their constituents, and other regional opinion leaders and stakeholders understand the impacts of global warming and its best available solutions, through comprehensive outreach efforts celebrating commitment, innovation and success in climate action. CA-CP showcases practical climate solutions that demonstrate the economic opportunities and environmental benefits associated with early actions on climate change; and CA-CP proposes and recommends the implementation of effective policy solutions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the state, regional and national levels. Those interested in sponsoring the program should contact Jennifer Andrews via CA-CP’s website at www.cleanair-coolplanet.org.
About ARAMARK Higher Education
ARAMARK Higher Education is dedicated to excellence in dining, facility, conference center, and stadium and arena services. ARAMARK enhances the living and learning experience and environment for more than 600 colleges and universities throughout North America. For more information and a list of our services, visit www.aramarkhighered.com.
ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. The company is recognized as the industry leader in FORTUNE magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies,” and as one of America’s Largest Private Companies by both FORTUNE and Forbes magazines. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 250,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at the company’s Web site, www.aramark.com, or www.twitter.com/aramarknews.
Clean Air-Cool Planet
SOURCE Clean Air – Cool Planet