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Housing & Food Services established our first comprehensive Sustainability Policy in July 2000, laying the groundwork to incorporate the three pillars of sustainability—environmental, economic, and social considerations—into our decision-making processes.

Since then Housing & Food Services has become a national leader among higher education housing and dining operations in sustainability.

Sustainable housing

We play a vital role in the UW’s consistent recognition as one of the most sustainable campuses in the country. As an organization, HFS endeavors to consider every decision from a perspective of sustainability.

Solar energy

HFS and UW Solar, a student-led group, installed solar panels on top of Mercer Court Apartments to generate 33,000 kwh of electricity to supplement power needs at the 1,000 resident complex. In subsequent years, HFS and UW Solar installed similarly sized solar panel arrays on top of Alder, Elm and Maple halls.

Rain water collection

The first large-scale rainwater-capture laundry system in the U.S., using a 125,000 gallon underground cistern, is built under Mercer Court Apartments, providing all of the water for Mercer’s washing machines.

Sustainability in the residence halls

Watch this video then visit our YouTube channel to learn more about how HFS maintains our dedication to sustainability.

Sustainable dining

UW Dining was recognized nationally as a top performer in the 2017 Sustainable Campus Index report for its performance in waste diversion and sustainable dining practices. We continue to dedicate resources to maintaining sustainability.

Compostable Take-out ware

Every to go container from any location on campus is compostable, including the cutlery.

  • In 2008, we partnered with Coca-Cola to create the first-ever compostable cold beverage cup, a first for Coke, to be used across UW Dining locations and, later, around the world.
  • In 2014 HFS and Starbucks created compostable hot beverage cups. A first for Starbucks, and for HFS “Proudly Serving Starbucks” locations. The cup is now used worldwide.
  • HFS partnered with Cell-O-Core and Pactiv to create compostable green straws for Starbucks, another first for Starbucks that also went worldwide.

Farming Practices

  • UW Farm crops are used seasonally in recipes at Cultivate, Local Point, Husky Den and The Rotunda, and sold at the District Market.
  • We use Wilcox Family Farms all-natural, organic eggs. Wilcox Family Farms has been awarded Salmon Safe certification, recognizing farming practices that protect the health of our rivers and streams.
  • Medosweet is a local family-owned dairy distributor that provides us with milk from Smith Brother Farms. The fresh milk arrives at our loading docks within three days of the milking. Medosweet products are all natural, from cows not treated with rBST.

Produce and Fair Trade

  • Produce is supplied by Charlie’s Produce, a local employee-owned company. Charlie’s has been buying local produce for 25 years. They have 15 conventional growers in the Puyallup/Kent/Mt. Vernon area they draw upon for local produce. They also work with 24 growers in Eastern Washington, plus numerous packing sheds.

Waste Reduction

  • UW Dining participates in WasteWise, a program administered by the EPA that helps organizations monitor and reduce waste.

Social responsibility

  • HFS employs over 1,000 UW students every year.
  • We continually review our ordering process to keep waste to a minimum. The nominal surplus food is donated to Food Lifeline, a local nonprofit food assistance program.
  • Sustainable food purchasing puts $5 million back into our local economy each year.
  • HFS sponsors SEED, a student organization that works with residents and HFS to bring awareness to sustainable issues that impact our campus.