UCSF Sustainability Stories


Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, August 2013


Spotlight on Adele Dow:  2013 Sustainability Award Winner

AdelleAdele Dow, facility manager at the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building and Mount Zion Cancer Research Building, is a true UCSF green ambassador. She has been behind the scene for years promoting sustainable practices, such as organizing recycling efforts of everything from old sneakers to batteries, implementing composting and recycling in break rooms, encouraging bike-to-work days and getting filtered water taps in her building to eliminate bottled water use. She often solicits feedback before embarking on a new effort, which contributes to the success of the sustainable practices she has put in place.

Her dedication and commitment to LivingGreen she was honored recently with a 2013 Sustainability Award.  Congratulations Adele!

Adele has really taken initiative over the years to encourage and improve sustainability at the Cancer Center, clearly not because she’s told to but because she’s motivated by her own belief in sustainability.  When asked what sustainability means to her, Adele responded, “Understanding that every decision we make and every action we take impacts the future well being of all living things.”  She thinks sustainability in important for UCSF because, we cannot successfully “advance health worldwide” if the planet we live on is not healthy. She lives her green commitment at home by catching cold shower water into a bucket and using it on plants (she grows many of her own fruits and vegetables), composting, as well as taking public transportation to work and turning her computer off at night.

At the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building at Mission Bay, which approximately 40 wet and dry labs, she took the lead in getting the entire building certified as a LivingGreen Lab.

She found the certification experience, including the questionnaire and assessment a thought provoking exercise.  Adele explained, “Some of the changes were easily made, because they just required a one-time modification—for example installing low flow faucet aerators or setting out collection trays at copiers for Good on One Side paper.  However the changes involving culture shift – for example, lowering the sash on fume hoods when not in use—require much more thought and strategic planning, and have therefore been slower to implement.”   

A key opportunity for labs is to reduce water use by using a pipette washing rack to wash pipettes.  Adele helped to gain buy-in and implement a switch to using pipette washing racks at the Center’s centralized glass washing service at the Diller Building.  The previous system was set up at the sink and flushed approximately 5 gallons of water through the chamber every minute, usually for a 20 minute cycle.  Now, the pipettes are loaded into the rack and washed concurrently inside the washer with other glassware, saving water and money. 

Her one wish for all fellow staff and students?  To learn to sort trash correctly (check out learn to sort your waste).