UCSF Sustainability Stories

Spotlight on UCSF LivingGreen Champions: Aria Yow

Aria picThis series is part of our effort to recognize the hard work of UCSF staff and students in our journey to sustainability.  Thank you for your efforts!  This piece focuses on Aria Yow,  Fellowship Assistant at UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education.  She has contributed significantly to raising awareness of sustainability issues and creating policies and procedures that enhance sustainability at the UCSF Library at 530 Parnassus Avenue.

Yow volunteered to work with the UCSF Library’s Sustainability Committee in the winter of 2009 as a representative of the Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education, one of the non-library departments housed in the library building. She has taken a leadership role on committee projects, volunteering to gather data, working with other UCSF departments to implement projects and reporting on successes to organizations outside of UCSF. 

Some of Yow’s achievements include:

  • Coordinating the filing of an application for the Medical Libraries Association Green Project Award
  • Working with Facilities Management to obtain composting bins for library staff
  • Educating library patrons and staff about conservation steps they can take
  • Assisting in the implementation of the library’s recycling program and purchase of green and/or recycled supplies
  • Encouraging other staff working in the library to think about sustainability issues

Yow’s efforts helped the library to reduce its electricity consumption by 32 percent and its water usage by 25 percent from FY 2008-09 to FY 2009-10.

In addition to her work with the Library’s Sustainability Committee, Yow integrates environmental issues into her position as fellowship coordinator in the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.  Using blogs and list serves, she has worked to raise consciousness among tobacco control researchers about the negative environmental impacts of the tobacco industry.

When asked why she thinks sustainability is important for UCSF, Yow replied, “I love the fact that many sustainability initiatives also improve operational efficiency. On one of my favorite sustainability projects, I learned how some measures have resulted in substantial and quantifiable costs savings for UCSF.  Examples of these measures are those that improve energy and water efficiency; reduce durable goods consumption; reduce waste (and the associated disposal costs); and enhance other performance metrics. The success of these measures is due in large part to the wonderful team at Campus Life Services Facilities Management and the high-level, top-down support within UCSF for sustainability programs.”

Yow concludes, “I would love it if each of my fellow staff/students could compost one item every day, something he or she would normally add to the waste stream. I am optimistic that we each can and do make a difference.”