UCSF Sustainability Stories


David Langdon Associates


Just Released!  UCSF’s Sustainability Action Plan

Earth in handsAn Introduction to the Sustainability Action Plan

The Sustainability Action Plan at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) is the result of a deliberate effort that began in the fall of 2009, and an outgrowth of the sustainability efforts that have been in place at UCSF for nearly ten years. This document is intended to encapsulate a single cohesive approach to the challenges of implementing sustainability in the educational, healthcare, research and regulatory environment of UCSF.

There are many shared goals between sustainability and healthcare: the desire to provide for the future, an attention to the holistic body as well as the discrete injury, a general pledge to not make things worse. And just as there are shared goals, there are also many shared frustrations: imperfect knowledge of the forces in play, unforeseen consequences to decisions, and the loss of life. For the purposes of developing this Sustainability Action Plan for UCSF, the definition of sustainability has been adapted through the lens of advancing health worldwide. Each of the strategic objectives has been developed with the goals of preventing harm, preserving human health and safety, and ensuring that sustainability at UCSF takes responsibility for the related problems of public health and climate change. Finally, the development of not just a set of guidelines or recommendations but an actionable plan for treatment is based on the recognition that despite our inability to see the future, we must act - using the best information available. By taking this ambitious step forward in developing an action plan that unites the sustainability efforts of the educational, medical center, and research arms of the university, UCSF is once again providing clear leadership to the healthcare community.

The Sustainability Action Plan has been designed for the UCSF audience, including students, staff, faculty, managers, practitioners, researchers, patients, etc. Despite this institution-specific audience, UCSF also recognizes that other institutions have faced similar challenges, and there is a hope that this action plan might offer guidance on the best practices for sustainability at any academic healthcare research university. Every attempt has been made to present information that is well documented, rooted in evidence-based decision making, and reflective of stakeholder concerns. Complete supporting documentation is available through the UCSF Office of Sustainability for this action plan as well as the baseline assessment.

The intent of the plan is to be a document of engagement that clearly identifies the strategic objectives for UCSF, the measures that will be used to gauge progress, the considered reasoning behind each initiative, and the next steps that are needed to implement the initiative. As a document of engagement, there is also an assumption that the UCSF stakeholders will provide feedback, and participate in revising and updating the Sustainability Action Plan on a regular basis. The Sustainability Action Plan is only useful if it is relevant, and it is incumbent upon the stakeholders of the institution to take ownership of this action plan and the identified initiatives, and to revise it according to the demands of the institution and its users.

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