Colorado State University in Fort Collins styles itself the “Green University” for its internationally recognized clean energy research and for its sustainability efforts on both its campus and elsewhere. Among those sustainability efforts are initiatives in the dining services department, the most recent one being the renovation of the Braiden Hall dining center.
The $3.8 million makeover of its interior turned Braiden into one of the greenest venues in the college dining world, with carpeting made from recycled plastic bottles, bits of recycled glass in the countertops and serving stations finished with materials made from wheat straw and sunflower hulls.
In the kitchen, the renovation added new hoods, freezers, coolers and production equipment as well as a new dishroom complete with a pulper to compost waste. In addition, a new blast chiller reduces the thermal shock load on coolers and freezers.
Using the pulper instead of garbage disposals has already reduced water usage by 80 percent over the traditional trough drain scrape process, and the rack dish machine reduced water consumption by 50 percent over the old unit.
The eight new hoods feature thermal optic sensors that control fan speed, reducing air flows by 60 percent when in standby mode. They are interconnected with a variable frequency drive on the main air handling unit that supplies fresh air makeup.
Significantly, that air makeup had to be bumped up by some 3,000 cfm because of all the new hoods, but despite the increased air flow requirement, and despite having to vent some 5,500 additional sq.ft. of seating and kitchen space, overall building venting expenses decreased by 15 percent when normalized to baseline for the first five months of operation, compared to the previous year with the old facility, says Dining Services Director Deon Lategan.
The energy that is used, meanwhile, is all “green,” specified as such from the local utility, at an extra cost of about $32,000 annually, emphasizes Lategan.
He cites several reasons for the renovation. “We had a 30-year-old dish machine that was an absolute energy hog that we needed to replace,” he explains.
“Once we made the decision to change that, we asked ourselves, ‘Why not do more?’ Braiden is the dining hall closest to campus and it was getting killed at lunch with long lines because the space was too small.”
In addition to replacing the “energy hog” dishwasher and adding more capacity, Lategan says the department also wanted to modernize Braiden radically from its outdated straight-line design into a modern, kitchen-forward approach that could feature fresh dishes made in front of customers.
The makeover not only added new made-to-order food stations but also about a hundred additional seats.
The new custom food production approach includes a remote order entry system for the RamWich deli station that allows students to place orders online and designate a pickup time, reducing lines.
Braiden's renovation comes on the heels of makeovers at two other dining centers, Corbett in 2005 and Ram's Horn in 2008.