Metro Tech’s Eco-Friendly Dining Room Opened

Submitted by Christina Hahn

Metro Tech’s newly refurbished fine dining room, The Sustainable Table, is a lesson in sustainability, from its flooring to the food. The eco-friendly restaurant held a Grand Opening, Friday, September 30 with a lunch for invited guests.

The project, funded through a portion of a two-year grant from Science Foundation Arizona, and operated by the Metro Tech Culinary Arts program, is a comprehensive example of how the school, its staff and students have embraced the “green” initiative. Several departments, staff and students collaborated on this project, from conception to the first meal.

Construction Technologies planned, researched and remodeled the space. All materials and furnishings removed from the original dining room were recycled or repurposed. Fashion and Interior Technology students researched and selected furnishings, lighting and colors. Many of the building materials were recycled, such as floor tiles made of recycled milk cartons and no adhesives, and tables made of recycled materials. The reupholstered booths are recycled polyester, wood is from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and most materials and furnishings were purchased from vendors within a 500-mile radius. Solar tubes provide natural lighting at no cost, and LED lamps reduce energy consumption by as much as 87 percent over incandescent bulbs, and contain no toxic elements. All paint products are low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) reducing the emission of harmful gases.

The menu will consist of locally-grown, seasonal produce, including some herb and vegetables grown organically by the school’s horticulture program. A campus orchard will ultimately provide fruit such as figs, apples, citrus, pomegranates and grapes.

“The emphasis will be on healthy foods, but there will be a range of meals available,” said grant manager Dr. Jean Anderson. “Guests in this room will dine in an eco-friendly environment, eating eco-friendly meals.”

The Sustainable Table will be open to the public two or three days a week for lunch. Full course meals are prepared and served by the Culinary Arts students.

The Sustainable Table is one of 25 campus projects that have been developed with the grant, which at over $900,000 was the largest grant awarded by Science Foundation Arizona to a school.

“Sustainability projects are an ideal framework for instructional design,” Metro Tech Principal Kate McDonald said. “They provide students an opportunity to collaboratively work on cross-curricular, real-world projects that can present solutions we need in our local and global communities.”