By Hannah Buoye and Jessica Parral

Food services all across campus are now a darker shade of green.

The Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program (MBAGBP) now recognizes the Porter/Kresge and Cowell/Stevenson dining halls, plus University Catering, as green businesses. Clint Jeffries, the UC Santa Cruz food service manager, said he and other staff members are striving to get all their dining service venues certified under the program.

“Two years ago Director [of UCSC Dining] Scott Berlin brought it to the table at a manager’s meeting and I took it and ran with it,” Jeffries said. “We want to do our part for the community, it just makes sense.”

The Owl’s Nest at Kresge, Terra Fresca inside the University Center, and the dining halls for College Nine/Ten and College Eight/Oakes are up next for recognition. The only venues that would remain are the Oakes Café and Perk Coffee carts all across campus.

According to the City of Santa Cruz website, the MBAGBP is an incentives-based program designed to encourage businesses to meet or exceed environmental standards in the areas of water conservation, waste reduction, storm water and waste water pollution prevention, energy efficiency, air pollution and hazardous waste handling.

Dining services is not the only organization to approve the drive toward becoming green. Officials with the City of Santa Cruz were just as excited about the move.

Suzanne Healy, an Environmental Project Analyst in Santa Cruz said, “As soon as they knew we were doing it, they wanted to be at the top of the list. The university jumped in as soon as it could.”

The MBAGBO certification program allows businesses to innovate and reduce their pollution without the policing powers of the state.

Josephine Fleming, a program coordinator, said the program has certified 35 businesses since its inception in 2003, with 18 here in Santa Cruz. The number has grown 80 percent in four years, Fleming added.

“The program is really taking off as word-of-mouth spreads about the cost-savings and free advertisement,” Fleming wrote in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press.

“So far we have a waiting list, so we haven’t done a lot of approaching. People come to us; they see the ads and want to do it because they believe in the cause. Right now we’re really busy, which is good,” explained Healy.

Fleming said that the businesses receive statewide recognition and, for some, the added bonus of increased clientele.

“They’re seeing an improved customer base and customer response,” Fleming said.

The recognized campus eateries reduced their environmental impact in several ways. First they increased energy efficiency through the use of compact fluorescent lamps and more energy-efficient appliances. They also improved waste management by monitoring all recyclables. And to conserve water, these businesses have also installed new low-flow spray nozzles and water-saving dishwashers.

According to Jeffries employees have been an integral part of the dining halls’ certifications. Dining services has incorporated sustainability into its fall training day in order to make the concept of “greening” personal for Green Campus interns by explaining the advantages of using Compact Fluorescent Lamps, among other energy-saving techniques.

“Making it personal helps them to understand and become enthusiastic about it,” Jeffries said. “It is exciting to see enthusiasm and commitment from the staff.”

All businesses in the program must be recertified every three years, according to Fleming.

“Each time we recertify them we ask that they do a little bit more,” Fleming said. “Usually the technology has improved so they [need to] do more than before.”

Jeffries explained that all staff members have been put through a Green Business training program regardless or whether or not their venue is certified. Together with employee input and and the information gathered during such events as the Student Environmental Center’s Zero Waste Day, the dining halls are growing greener by the day.

“We’re really glad that they wanted to participate in the program;” said Healy of UCSC Dining, “they’ve been really enthusiastic about it.”