New Dining Hall Serves Up Sustainability, Restaurant-Style Meals


There's something special about the opening of a new building on campus, maybe even more so when the new building is a dining facility.

College students, after all, can't survive on books alone.

Students who live on the east campus should be especially pleased this fall with the debut of the new 700-seat East Campus Dining Hall, which will feature all-you-can eat meals just like D-Hall (the round building on the west campus that's officially named Gibbons Hall) .

But food service isn't the only thing that makes the new dining hall special. The building is the first on campus eligible for sustainability certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (

And that's reason for C.J. Brodrick Hartman to smile. "The campus' first LEED building represents an important step forward in fulfilling JMU's commitment to becoming a model steward of the natural world," said Hartman, executive director of JMU's Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World.

The GBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is an internationally recognized rating system that grades construction on a 100-point scale. The system was developed to improve building performance in energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources. The system is flexible enough to apply to all building types, commercial as well as residential, according to the GBC.

Among features that make the new East Campus Dining Hall eligible for LEED certification are its location close to bus stops and bike racks; a white membrane that covers 97 percent of the roof and reflects sunlight; water-efficient plumbing; daylighting (89 percent of the regularly occupied spaces in the building are daylit); and the use of recycled and regionally manufactured building materials.

The building should gain the certification by spring, after the GBC reviews a mound of paperwork—most of it done electronically, said Win Hunt, JMU's director of facilities planning and construction.

While the dining hall is JMU's first building constructed under the LEED guidelines, it won't be the last. Hunt said any new construction from now on will be built using the sustainability guidelines.

For those interested in the food, the offerings and the way it is prepared in the new dining hall will be a bit different and done with an eye toward sustainability, said Stephanie Hoshower of JMU dining services. While old favorites such as hamburgers and hotdogs will always be available, the new dining hall will have stations that serve a variety of food not served at other campus locations such as Indian cuisine baked in a tandoori oven.

In keeping with the building’s sustainable focus, dining services will be making an effort to purchase food that is locally grown. Campus executive chef Jay Vetter said that the dining hall will be serving hydroponic lettuce grown by a local Mennonite farmer. Dining Services has also been growing fresh herbs in JMU’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum for use in the new facility.

East Campus Dining Hall Green Features:

  • Located within 1/4 mile of two bus stops serving Harrisonburg and within 150 yards of 128 spaces for bicycles.
  • More than 40,000 square feet of open space at Driver Drive and University Boulevard will be preserved for the life of the building.
  • Bioretention ponds filter dirt and pollutants out of runoff from the site before it enters the storm sewer system.
  • A white membrane that reflects the sun covers 97 percent of the roof.
  • Dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, ultra low-flow lavatories and kitchen sinks will help save 181,948 gallons of water annually.
  • Variable-air-volume air handling units, efficient kitchen hoods and more efficient wall and roof design features will help with energy efficiency.
  • Recyclable collection.
  • Carbon dioxide monitors will help provide adequate ventilation for improved indoor air quality as well as improve energy efficiency.
  • Janitor's closet and mechanical room have full-height walls and separate exhaust to prevent pollutants from spreading to other areas of the building.
  • Walkoff mats at entryways will help prevent dirt and pollutants from entering the building.
  • Nearly 90 percent of the regularly occupied areas in the building are daylit.
  • The use of chemicals in cleaning and pest control will be limited.
  • The building was constructed with recycled and regionally manufactured materials.

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Published: Monday, August 3, 2009

Last Updated: Monday, May 24, 2021

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