Skip to main content
dining hall

Northwestern Dining is Going Green

Dining halls at Northwestern are going green. Four Northwestern dining halls in Evanston, as well as Harry’s Café on the Chicago campus, have been certified as Level 1 Certified Green Restaurants® by the Green Restaurant Association, an international nonprofit organization that encourages restaurants to green their operations using transparent, science-based certification standards. This achievement by Northwestern Dining supports the Resource Conservation program objectives established in the University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan.

Northwestern is the first Big 10 school to earn certification for all dining halls. In the Chicago area, the only other schools to achieve Green Restaurant certification are the University of Chicago (for two locations) and McHenry County College (for one location). Northwestern’s Evanston campus dining halls (Sargent Hall, Foster Walker West, Foster-Walker East, Elder and Allison Hall) and Harry’s Cafe were evaluated in six sustainability categories: disposables, energy, food, chemicals and pollution, waste, and water. The dining halls earned Level 1 certification out of four possible levels. The certification is a multi-year process where applicants work their way from Level 1 (earning a minimum of 80 points) up to a Level 4 (300 points).

Here are some highlights of the actions that have been taken to achieve Green Restaurant Certification, Level 1 in our certified facilities.


  • Dining halls use reusable utensils, dishes, and glasses.
  • Dining halls use energy efficient ENERGY STAR appliances, including dishwashers, refrigerators, and ice machines.
  • Dining facilities use high efficiency fluorescent and LED lighting.


  • Dining halls offer vegan and vegetarian main dishes.
Chemicals and pollution
  • Dining halls are accessible by public transportation, and bike storage and bike repair facilities are available nearby. These features reduce pollution related to transportation to and from the dining halls.
  • Dinning halls provide full scale recycling, composting, and grease recycling programs. Dining halls do not offer any Styrofoam products or plastic bottled water.
  • Meals are served without trays, encouraging people to take only what they can eat.
  • Condiments are served in bulk, reducing packaging waste.
  • Water efficient dishwashers, ice machines, and automated sinks are used in the kitchens.

The efforts to green campus dining halls contribute directly to sustainNU’s Resource Conservation program initiatives, particularly those aimed at reducing waste, increasing recycling and composting rates, and increasing access to more sustainable food options. Energy and water saving actions in dining halls also support goals related to sustainNU’s Built Environment program, which includes an objective of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Northwestern Dining is excited to continue to make advances in sustainability, and is committed to introducing further sustainability initiatives in each dining hall in order to achieve higher levels of Green Restaurant certification.