Stanford Dining recognized by Acterra

L.A. Cicero Rafi Taherian

Rafi Taherian

Stanford Dining has been recognized for infusing environmental sustainability throughout its operations. At an awards ceremony to honor environmentally progressive businesses on June 7, Stanford Dining was awarded the 2007 Acterra Award for Sustainability.

Acterra, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit that advocates environmental stewardship and leadership among businesses and communities, honored a total of 11 firms, in categories based on size and fields of operation. Past recipients from the university of Acterra's Business Environmental Awards—first given out in 1990—include the Utilities division in 1995, for its energy-retrofit program, and Parking and Transportation Services in 2004, for the office's comprehensive alternative-commute program.

In awarding the first-ever Acterra Award for Sustainability this year, Norm Ploss, lead judge for the sustainability category, said that Stanford Dining edged out other qualified candidates because of its aim to affect change exponentially, its commitment and thoroughness. "They have examined and altered every aspect of dining service delivery," Ploss said, citing specifics such as minimization of food and materials waste, purchasing as much food as possible from within a 250-mile radius and on-campus gardening.

Administrators, managers and various staff from the university were on hand to receive the award, including Rafi Taherian, executive director of Stanford Dining, and Shirley Everett, associate vice provost for Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE). They also were handed certificates of recognition from Santa Clara County and the U.S. Congress for implementing sustainable practices.

Taherian said that evaluating everyday operations from a sustainability standpoint is, quite simply, no longer a choice for organizations.

"Sustainability is an obligation we have to ourselves and future generations and is deeply rooted in R&DE. It is not only a business strategy; it is an integral part of our mission and core values," Taherian said. "We learn from others and others learn from us, and we hope that more organizations embark on these initiatives."

The ceremony was held at Symantec in Mountain View. Among this year's other recipients were Genentech, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, Applied Materials and Adobe Systems.