UCSF Sustainability Stories


Shipra Shukla, August, 2014


New Chancellor Encourages LivingGreen Certification

SH testimonialSam Hawgood, MBBS, became UCSF Chancellor on July 17, 2014. A renowned pediatrician, Hawgood previously served as dean of the UCSF School of Medicine.  In January, President Janet Napolitano issued her goal to have individual campuses and the system as a whole reduce consumption of potable water by 20 percent by 2020, followed by Governor Brown declaring a drought state of emergency, calling on Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.  In early July, the newly appointed Chancellor Hawgood sent a memo to the UCSF community, reminding them that California is in the midst of one of the most severe droughts on record.

Although UCSF has been reducing its water consumption, even while expanding the square footage of the campus, in the memo he offered four specific suggestions for reducing water use, including asking workers and lab managers to have their labs and offices LivingGreen Certified as soon as possible, to focus on water and energy saving strategies.

Other strategies included:

• Each UCSF community member should immediately reduce personal water usage wherever possible. Always turn off water not directly in use in restrooms, break rooms, and labs.
• Promptly report water leaks, broken fixtures and irrigation spray heads, and other water waste to Facilities Services (415) 476-2021 (campus) or (415) 353-1120 (Medical Center).
• Visit the California Department of Water Resources website, Save Our Water, for additional water saving recommendations.

LivingGreen Certified

To date nearly 70 UCSF offices, labs, and patient units have become LivingGreen Certified and has saved UCSF over $300,000. The recent Race to Certification competition has spurred new certifications;  while at the School of Medicine, the Chancellor was part of a poster series UCSF launched to promote the work-space certification process.  The certification process is fun, easy, and helps UCSF move toward its sustainability goals, as well as reduces costs. 

Click HERE to learn more about getting your lab certified. 

Other Ways UCSF is Conserving Water

Winnie Kwoford accepting Best Practices Award

Earlier this year at the at the Annual Higher Education Sustainability Conference, UCSF was honored with an Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice award.  In the category of water efficiency and site water quality, Genentech and Byers Halls’ glass-wash autoclave facility was recognized for its best practice approach in the UCSF Laboratories Water Efficiency Program Project. Other UC campuses around the state are now looking to employ the practices spearheaded at UCSF. 

The project brought together Winifred Kwofie, PE, MASCE, MBA, associate director of engineering services, Ana Alvarado-Lopez, manager of the Genentech and Byers Hall glass-wash autoclac facility, Danny Paik, lead refrigeration technician of UCSF’s Campus Life Services, and Andy Steffensen, senior technician for Gentinge USA—an outside vendor assigned solely to UCSF. These individuals brought their unique skill sets to implement changes and make strategic recommendations for saving water. Labs are traditionally highly water intensive. Large amounts of steam and washing, in addition to their 24-hour a day cycle, make labs a site for potential water waste.

Funding from the Public Utilities Commission awarded to UCSF for conservation efforts, allowed the Genentech and Byers Halls’ glass-wash autoclave facility to install monitoring equipment. Prior to the monitoring equipment being installed, the washers worked like a home dishwasher where data about how many gallons of water are used per cycle is simply not available. With the installation of the meters, the Genentech and Byers Halls’ glass-wash autoclave facility is now able to measure not only how much water is being used per cycle, but also how much might be going directly to the drain as waste. With the data, a technician like Steffenson can do a Safe Step cotton swab test to determine if a lab’s glass containers are equally as clean in a 45-minute wash as a 35-minute wash.

“We looked at water conservation more from a data and cost-savings standpoint. We knew the culture in the labs is different and encouraging behavior change, without having data to back-up what we were asking for, wasn’t going to be as effective,” said Kwofie. “We wanted to be able to tap into the concerns of those running a lab and see what they needed.” 

Ana Alvarado Lopez checking water usage at Byers Hall Glasswash facility

Key to the success of the UCSF Laboratories Water Efficiency Program Project was the ability to work with staff on the ground. Alvarado-Lopez has worked for UCSF since 1984, and has always wanted to find ways to conserve water. “Coming from another country, where my father said, ‘this (water) is life. It gives life to us and to all living creatures.’ When Winnie came up with the idea of how our facility could conserve water, I knew I wanted to be part of implementing that,” said Alvarado-Lopez. She is working with Gentinge to reprogram Genentech hall glass washers to use the last rinse cycle from each load as the first rinse cycle for the next load. This should save significant amounts of water.

The project also benefited from the knowledge Steffenson brought from his experience with the UCSF Hunter’s Point Facility’s water conservation efforts. “By installing a device that measures and controls temperature we were able to eliminate 42.5 gallons of water that was going straight to the drain every hour, said Steffenson. “This was water that wasn’t even hitting the glassware, but just going straight to the drain as runoff.” The savings in water and sewage costs has been about $100,000 per month.

Washer at lab

Part of what Lopez is working on is changing the culture in the lab. “The data is what truly speaks. It can show that the extra time our beakers spend in the wash may not be serving us,” said Alvarado-Lopez. After the Chancellor’s campus-wide email went out, encouraging labs to become LivingGreen Certified, Alvarado-Lopez is feeling the need to make sure her lab is Living Green Certified as soon as possible. “Becoming certified means we need to change our behavior, and I’m doing everything we can to make sure we get certified as soon as possible,” said Alvarado-Lopez.