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Culinary Education’s Big Boost to the Green-Building Movement

29 April 2011

food4_may11Johnson & Wales University's Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence in Providence earns LEED gold certification.

Johnson & Wales University (JWU) has been awarded LEED® gold certification established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) for its Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. One of the newest and most prominent facilities on the Harborside Campus of the university's expansive Providence, R.I., campus, the 82,000-square-feet Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence features a state-of-the-art environment specifically designed to accommodate the university's advanced culinary curriculum.

Designed by Tsoi/Kobus & Associates of Cambridge, Mass., the $42 million facility achieved LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies.

"The Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence symbolizes the high standards we demand in our College of Culinary Arts," says John J. Bowen, the university's chancellor. "By design, we have constructed an environment for our students to experience the academic background, professional rigor, management and leadership skills needed to be competitive in a global economy. Our talented, experienced faculty educate our students in a manner that respects the continuum of the culinary experience from farm to plate, while exposing them to the finest state-of-the-art equipment. Each day in our Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence creativity, science and hard work converge to turn our students' aspirations into realities in a manner that respects the environment and celebrates the diversity our global profession demands."

The USGBC's LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. More than 32,000 projects are currently participating in the commercial and institutional LEED rating systems, comprising more than 9.6 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 114 countries. By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse-gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community. USGBC was co-founded by current president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, who spent 25 years as a Fortune 500 executive. Under his 15-year leadership, the organization has become the preeminent green building, membership, policy, standards, influential, education and research organization in the nation.


A striking four-level structure with a transparent bank of floor-to-ceiling windows that provides direct views of the internal goings-on of one of the largest culinary schools in the world, the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence combines a sustainable design with hurricane-proof resistance, braced by columns that rest above 100 pilings sunk 110 feet below ground.

With an initial class of 100 students in 1973 and limited facilities contained in a repurposed WWII -era building in Providence, the College of Culinary Arts at JWU is recognized for its preeminent programs that remain relevant to the foodservice industry, health and wellness issues, and the art of the changing international food scene. The university's commitment to urban revitalization has become its signature within each of the regions where it maintains a campus (Providence, North Miami, Denver and Charlotte). In Providence, the university has spent $5 million, $600,000 of which was awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Brownfield and clean-up grants for the money to develop its Harborside Campus, a former industrial property. The campus' location along the Narragansett Bay offers some of the state's greatest vistas, and includes the recently completed two-acre Urban Coastal Greenway project, a part of a larger 6.5-acre remediation of this area.

"With each new LEED-certified building, we get one step closer to USGBC's vision of a sustainable-built environment within a generation,” says the USGBC’s Fedrizzi. “As the newest member of the LEED family of green buildings, the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence is an important addition to the growing strength of the green-building movement."

JWU's newest pioneering joint bachelor’s program between the College of Culinary Arts and The Hospitality College is housed in the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. This degree combines culinary arts and baking and pastry arts with foodservice management, preparing students for the multiple demands arising in the industry today.

Photo 1: State-of-the-art technology permeates every educational aspect of the new Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, such as in the Wine Lab.

Photo 2: Floor-to-ceiling windows in JWU’s Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence provide direct views of the internal goings-on of one of the largest culinary schools in the world.