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Sustainability facts about The Commons

The Commons has been committed to being good stewards of the environment from its inception. These are just a few facts that you may not know about The Commons.

Our Commitment to Sustainability

Believe it or not, The Commons, Kennesaw State University's state-of-the-art dining hall, feeds more than 5,000 guests each weekday! The facility opened in August 2009 and coincided with the introduction of the campus meal plan program. The staff of Culinary & Hospitality Services took advantage of an incredibly unique opportunity to incorporate industry-leading sustainable practices in a new building from the ground up.

The Commons was conceptualized and constructed with sustainability in mind from the beginning. Local vendors and contractors were used throughout the construction, an aspect that not only supported the local construction industry, but also reduced the overall environmental impact of the project.  In addition, the use of local contractors has continually allowed quick and easy repair work as it's needed, reducing downtime and further reducing the impact on the environment. 85% of materials used in the construction of the facility were made from recycled materials or low-emitting materials.

Equipment and facility infrastructure are energy efficient and, wherever possible, water is recycled. Collected rainwater irrigates the on-site herb garden, which was incorporated into the initial building design as a functional green space. All cardboard, plastic, aluminum, and glass are recycle and all wet waste and organic food production waste is composted off-site. Used oil from fryers is recycled and repurposed as biodiesel. These factors, to name a few, were considered by the U.S. Green Building Council, which awarded The Commons a highly-coveted LEED Gold certification in March 2010.

Kitchen design was based on the concept of 'small-batch' cooking, where dishes are cooked and used as needed, instead of in large batches, reducing waste.  A "whole food" approach is also used, and the kitchen staff utilizes one ingredient for as many things as possible before adding it to the compost pile. For example, whole chickens are butchered for our famous "Fried Chicken Thursday," and the remaining bones are utilized in the production of stock for some of our made-from-scratch soups and sauces. Additionally, our commitment to remaining a trayless facility further reduces food waste and energy consumption.

Did You Know?


The Commons has more than 10 hydroponic units. Hydroponics refers to the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients and without soil. Rainwater run-off from our buliding is used as a water source.

The process consists of three steps: germination, propagation, and cultivation.

The Commons will produce 600 heads of lettuce every three weeks, which will result in about 9,600 heads of lettuce per year for use in the dining hall. 


The biocomposter turns plate waste into a nutrient rich water source used in farm irrigation. This nutrient rich water is utilized as a water source for KSU's farm-to-campus-to-farm program.


More than 220 gallons of cooking oil is recycled annually for use as biodiesel.

Hydration Stations

The Commons has three "Hydration Stations" that allow guests to fill reusable containers with purified, filtered water. These Hydration Stations help us in our efforts to reduce plastic water bottle waste.

APEX™ Dishwashing System

As part of its commitment to increase the sustainability of its operations, Culinary & Hospitality Services uses Ecolab's Apex™ dishwashing system. Apex combines technology and products designed to save water and energy, minimize the impact of products on the environment, and has a built-in method of measuring results. Apex uses a unique combination of detergents, rinse additives, equipment and consultative services to address the operational challenges in foodservice operations. The Apex management approach uses a tablet PC and wireless technology to communicate with the system's controller to download, process and analyze data to establish each foodservice operation's "rack-to-guest ratio." By monitoring and improving this ratio, the system helps reduce the amount of water and energy used at each facility, and improve total operational efficiency.

All locations will receive the benefits of using less water, energy and labor, thus minimizing their operations' overall impact on the environment. In addition, the Apex system further supports our sustainability initiatives with non-caustic chemistry and 95% less packaging material than current methods. Apex products come in a compact solid form that significantly reduces transportation shipments compared to bulkier liquid detergents.

Xpress Nap Holders

XPressnap dispensers are another solution to reducing energy and waste. They save 30% in paper over traditional napkin dispensing mechanisms. The great thing about these dispensers is that they help the environment while helping to keep costs down.  The napkins are made of 100% recycled paper and the dispenser will encourage customers to take (and waste) less napkins. Energy is saved because less power is used to recycle paper products than to create them from virgin material. According to Xpressnap, enough is saved through utilizing recycle napkins to power 600 American homes for an entire year! More than half a million gallons of oil was saved – 38 tanker trucks worth – and 41 tons of pollutants were kept out of the environment. 4,131 cubic yards of paper were diverted from landfill space. This is enough to cover an entire football field with a two and a half foot deep stack of paper.

Campus Herb Garden

Our 2,500 ft. campus garden is located in between The Commons and the Burruss Building. The garden provides The Commons with fresh herbs and a shiitaki mushroom garden!

Composting & Recycling

More than 32,000 pounds of wet waste are composted each month. The Commons recycles more than 6,000 pounds of cardboard each month.

Waste Minimization

Organic waste is collected in single steam bins that generate 3,000 pounds of additional compostable waste.

Permaculture Project

The Permaculture Project is a partnership with Students for Enviornmental Sustainability (S.E.S). This student driven project is located in front of the Science Building. The garden serves as a living, learning, landscape. The ultimate goal of this eco-garden is to utilize permacultural principals by using bio-mimicry to replicate systems in nature. This process allows us to produce maximum yield in our crops while improving and regenerating the environment. The garden is an educational tool that focuses on sustainable methods of producing, marketing and distributing food in a local community. All the proceeds yielded from this project in the way of workshops and food distribution will cycle back into further development and maintenance of the project creating a closed loop model which can be easily replicated at other schools or in other areas on campus.

Kennesaw State University

Culinary and Hospitality Services
1000 Chastain Rd MD #4000 TC 40
Kennesaw, GA 30144
678 797-2902
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