Green Business Case Study: UCSB Dining Services


Water Saved: 332,805 gallons
Water Cost Savings: $2,197
Electricity Saved: 92,811 kWh
Electricity Cost Savings: $10,674
Natural Gas Saved: 3,968 therms
Natural Gas Cost Savings: $2,460
Total Dollars Saved: $15,331 per year

The Business Greening Story

ucsb2For decades, the UCSB Dining Commons have committed themselves to being trailblazers in the arena of sustainable business practices and “earth-friendly” dining. Starting in the late 90’s, they have made monumental progress by implementing strong recycling campaigns, introducing locally grown and organic produce, removing trays to reduce food and water waste, and converting to fair-trade coffee and cage-free eggs.

To continue its sterling reputation for sustainable efforts, in 2011 Soteris Nicolaou, the General Manager of Carrillo Dining Common, and Mark Rousseau, the Energy and Environmental Manager, sought to certify the dining commons as a Green Business.

During the certification process, all of the previous initiatives were brought together and assessed on one long check-list to ensure that the measures that were being taken complied with California Green Businesses. Nicolaou remarked how, “the certification was a foundation, something to put it all together.” Previously, the managers partnered with other departments individually to work on sustainability initiatives but “didn’t have a list that would get us all together.” Consequently, the general compliance standards allowed them to easily and efficiently certify as much of the business as they could from every angle.

Taking Advantage of the Green Business Certification

While the dining commons were already well beyond the necessary requirements for the certification, the Green Business Program’s step-by-step checklist program still facilitated significant reductions to their environmental impact and utility bills. For example, by updating equipment such as steamers and pre-rinse spray nozzles, over 300,000 gallons of water were saved. Updating fryers, ovens, and steamers saved almost 4,000 therms of natural gas, which is similar to cutting 21 metric tons of CO2 equivalent from the environment.

46% of the dining common’s fresh produce is grown on local farms (within 250 miles), over 25% is organic and/or sustainably grown without pesticides, and 38% of total food purchases are considered sustainable.

While many alterations were large equipment changes, the greatest monetary reduction for the dining commons came from the easy and low-hanging fruit of switching kitchen light fixtures from incandescent to LED or fluorescent bulbs. Ortega Dining Common was a leader in cost savings by reducing 48,546 kWh of electricity and saving $5,583 annually.

Ultimately, the lighting changes resulted in a total electricity savings of $10,674 per year for the dining commons, and are a testament to the fact that small changes can make a big difference.

The UCSB Dining Services are determined to continue their efforts towards sustainability in the future. Mark Rousseau emphasized that with green initiatives, it is often easiest to grab that low-hanging fruit; however, we often forget that as the tree grows, there will always be new fruit growing at the bottom. “The students challenge me now.
They want more and more, and ask for new things constantly which requires us to be leaders in sustainability.” The dining commons are already looking for new and challenging campaigns like Meatless Mondays, and will continue to push the envelope as hard as they can to be an example for other businesses.

“This program was an eye-opener. It helped us to put it all together and has been a great tool for us.”

Soteris Nicolaou
General Manager of Carrillo