Submitted by Tina Hand, Assistant General Manager
It’s not easy being green, as a certain frog once sang, and it’s even less easy getting your practices certified green. But that’s exactly the feat that Bon Appétit at VMware in Palo Alto, CA, accomplished in February, when it became a Bay Area Certified Green Business.
The Bay Area Green Business Program, a founding member of the California Green Business Program, distinguishes small businesses that protect, preserve, and sustain the environment, and the benchmarks are pretty strict. The five pillars —general practices, resource/water conservation, solid waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation, and pollution prevention — each have several criteria to meet, so reaching the milestone of certification isn’t easy, though its rewards are well worth the effort.
Of the required criteria, several items are standard and predictable, such as regular servicing of plumbing and ventilation systems, reducing electricity use by replacing fixtures and certain types of lighting, replacing chemicals and other toxic ingredients in supplies, and recycling as much as possible in addition to using recycled products. Challenges arise with some of the more stringent and difficult requirements. Implementing seven pollution-prevention measures (such as ensuring only rain enters the storm drain), reducing chemical use in eight ways, reducing waste in seven ways, and reusing materials three ways all require both research and creative thinking.
But because of the values Bon Appétit Management Company already practices, the Bon Appétit team at VMware was already implementing many program requirements, and the “green team” was thrilled to figure out solutions for the rest. Executive Chef John Dirks, Café Manager Amy Lawrence, General Manager Joseph Alfieri, and Executive Chef Matt Dark all worked hard to ensure compliance and implement necessary changes. Now they and the entire Bon Appétit team at VMware share the privilege and honor of being Certified Green in the model state of California!
Remarkably, 93% of VMware’s kitchen waste is diverted from landfill, thanks to a stringent composting program. Here are some highlights of other mindful things done on campus:
- No portion control (PC) items—things like packets for mayonnaise and mustard—are used, ever, even for catering.
- No chip bags.
- No plastic water bottles; only recyclable canned beverages.
- All candy at the registers is purchased in bulk and bagged onsite.
- Aerators are installed on all kitchen faucets (lowering flow).
- Everything that can be composted gets composted onsite.
- All packaging is compostable.