Our Approach to Sustainability
“Sustainability” isn’t optional for Duke Dining; it’s who we are and how we define ourselves.
Duke Dining recognizes that the modern food system often pursues efficiencies and profit at the expense of environmental health, community well-being, and fair economic relationships. Faced with this reality, we eagerly take on the role of potential catalyst in this system.
Duke Dining has worked purposefully to fully understand all the issues that make up a sustainable dining program. In addition to setting a standard for purchasing locally, we also prioritize the purchase of products that are organic, humanely raised, fairly grown, and responsibly fished.
- In 2017, Duke Dining earned the Gold Award in the category of ‘Procurement Practices’ from the National Association of College & University Food Services.
- In 2016, Duke Dining’s Residential Dining Facility, Marketplace, received a 3-Star Green Restaurant Certification from the Green Restaurant Association.
- In 2015, Duke Dining became the first and only university in the Southeast and only 1 of 12 in the nation to become Marine Stewardship Council Certified.
- In 2015, after 2 years of research and gathering input from campus stakeholders, Duke Dining published the first draft of its Sustainability Plan.
Duke Dining’s Sustainability Standards
Duke University’s Dining Program takes an innovative approach to sustainable procurement and operations. You can learn more about our standards and approach by visiting each of the issues pages or by reading our Sustainability Plan.
Many modern farms are actually large industrial facilities that produce high volumes of food, but often at the expense of animal welfare, soil and water quality, and the nutritional quality of the final product.
Because the health of Duke students, faculty, staff, and guests is Duke Dining’s number one priority, Duke Dining is implementing standards that prioritize the use of animal products that have been humanely raised, particularly with respect to the use of antibiotics and hormones.
Duke Dining prefers to purchase meat and dairy products from animals that were never given hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics (unless sick and under the advice of a veterinarian).
Duke Dining prefers to purchase meat and dairy products from animals that are treated humanely and allowed to express their natural behaviors.
Durham, North Carolina is known for its food scene, and that reputation is due in large part to the community’s embrace of the local food movement. There are an abundance of small and medium sized local farms, cooperatives, and food hubs, and Duke Dining is working to be a part of this important local food system.
Duke Dining prefers to purchase food that is grown, raised, and/or processed in North Carolina in order to support local economies, especially small and mid-sized farms and companies, and to minimize transport, especially of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Duke Dining recognizes that overfishing, in the case of “wild caught” fish, has led to severely reduced populations of certain types of fish, the destruction of marine habitats, and unfair labor practices. Additionally, fish farming often results in damage to the environment and risks to human health. To counter these destructive forms of fishing, Duke Dining is implementing standards that prioritize the purchase of responsibly caught seafood.
We prefer to purchase seafood that is responsibly caught by fisheries that do not practice overfishing, catching bycatch, or use slave labor. We prefer to purchase seafood that is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and/or meets the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch standards.
Organic farming is often considered an alternative to intensive, industrialized farming. Rather than relying on synthetic fertilizers and toxic, persistent chemical pesticides, organic farming focuses on the principles of biodiversity, ecological balance, sustainability, natural plant fertilization, natural pest management, and soil integrity. In support of this more responsible and rigorous method of food production, Duke Dining embraces organic and organic-practice agriculture.
Duke Dining prefers to purchase organically grown food to minimize our customers’, farmworkers’, pollinators’, and the environment’s exposure to harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers.
Fair Labor PracticeToo often in the food industry, profit is prioritized over the well-being of workers. In these instances, the people who help bring food to our tables are made to work in hazardous conditions and are subject to unfair labor management.
Duke Dining never purchases from suppliers that break labor laws or harm their employees, and we are working to embrace those suppliers that go the extra mile for their employees by providing them with housing, healthcare, and/or educational opportunities.
We prefer to purchase food that is grown by businesses that treat their workers fairly, complying with all labor laws and providing safe work environments, and that do not employ slave labor.
It’s estimated that in the United States, 40 percent of edible food is wasted. Recognizing that food waste is a massive issue, Duke Dining is working to make the campus’ food system more efficient and less wasteful.
By partnering with the student-led Food Recovery Network, Duke Dining is sending leftover, unserved food to local shelters to feed hungry community members.
Additionally, every Duke Dining location composts its pre-consumer food waste, and the campus’ two largest dining facilities—The Marketplace and the Brodhead Center—compost post-consumer food waste.
In 2016-2017, Duke Dining diverted an average of 36 tons of organic waste from the landfill. Instead that organic waste was used to create nutrient soil.
Health & Wellness
· 100% ban on trans fats at all Duke Dining locations
· Nutritious alternatives to sugary beverages (i.e. water, teas, and flavored water) prioritized in the Marketplace and Brodhead Center dining facilities
· “Balance Your Plate” nutritious meal options featured at every meal
Climate Friendly Menus
· Meatless Monday program available at every Duke Dining location
· Vegetarian and vegan entrees offered at every meal, every day in the Marketplace and Brodhead Center dining facilities
Reusable Mug Program
· Customers who bring their own reusable mug* to any Duke Dining location receive a 20 percent discount on brewed coffee or fountain soda.
· *Hot beverage mugs cannot exceed 16 ounces and cold beverage mugs cannot exceed 24 ounces. The discount does not apply to specialty beverages.
· No Duke Dining location uses Styrofoam to-go containers
·In campus locations where composting is readily accessible (Marketplace and the Brodhead Center), compostable to-go containers are prioritized.
· Marketplace, Duke Dining’s first-year dining hall and the campus’ only all-you-care-to-eat location, is 100 percent tray-less.
· Tray-less dining saves water, energy, and reduces food waste. It saves water and energy by reducing the number of extraneous dishes that need to be washed. And it reduces food waste because trays, as a product of their convenience, tends to encourage diners to fill the entire tray with stacks of plates of food, and in most cases, they don't eat everything they've taken and end up throwing it out. Over time, the environmental—and economic—savings of tray-less dining add up every meal!
· Marketplace, Duke Dining’s East Campus dining facility, was renovated in 2015. During the renovation, Marketplace was outfitted with energy efficient lighting and equipment. Additionally, the facility features an indoor green wall, which improves the dining hall’s indoor air quality.
· Duke Dining’s newest facility, the Brodhead Center, was constructed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver requirements. To achieve this level of certification, the facility is outfitted with the following technical features:
· Demand Control Ventilation
· Airside Economizers
· Supply Air Temperature Reset
· 81% of the domestic hot water heating load is handled by steam condensate heat recovery system
· Water-Cooled Kitchen Equipment (condensing units)
· Variable Frequency Drives on Fans
· High Performance/Low velocity Ductwork Design
· Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures
· Regenerative Power Elevators (the braking of the elevator is provided by the motor allowing
the motor to act as a generator)
· High efficiency Low-E Insulated Glazing for Glass Enclosure
· Horizontal glass fins on the south side of the facility reduce solar heat gain and glare
· Exterior terracotta fins provide solar shading
· Motorized solar shading at skylight glazing
Duke Campus Farm
· The Duke Campus Farm is a one-acre working farm dedicated to catalyzing positive change in the ways we grow, eat and think about food. By using sustainable methods to grow fruits and vegetables, the Duke Campus Farm provides a living laboratory for all things food related at Duke and beyond.
· Since DCF was founded in fall 2010, it has grown from a student project to a working farm providing thousands of pounds of produce each year to campus dining halls and CSA members, working with classes across the academic spectrum, exposing hundreds of students and community members to the joys and hard work of growing real food, and starting and forwarding conversations around the impacts and opportunities of our current food system.
Funny Girl Farm
· Funny Girl Farm is committed to raising vegetables, mushrooms and eggs in a way that nourishes and preserves the environment.
· Funny Girl Farm only uses non-GMO seeds and often source outheirloom seeds specific to our region. The farm also employs methods of crop rotation in order to prevent the buildup of disease and unwanted insects, and plant cover crops to allow the soil to rest while providing for erosion control, beneficial insect habitat, and many other benefits.
· While Funny Girl Farm is not certified organic, it follows organic practices and chooses only OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved materials. The farm also follows the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
Endless Sun Produce
· Endless Sun Produce is a hydroponic urban farm that grows and sells produce in Durham and Raleigh, NC.
· Endless Sun utilizes a hydroponic growing technique in conjunction with Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), enabling consistent yields 52 weeks a year grown in the same city where it is consumed.
· Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants with nutrient-en riched water without soil. This process uses 60 to 80 percent less water and nutrients than traditional farming. Also because of this technology Endless Sun is able to grow the same amount of produce as other traditional soil based farms that are 5 times the size. Because the system is a recirculating hydroponic system, Endless Sun is able to eliminate fertilizer runoff entirely.