UCSF Sustainability Stories


UCSF Facilities Management, March 2012


UCSF Facilities Management Tackles Water Conservation on Many Levels

Water dropUCSF Facilities Management has been focusing its conservation efforts on energy and recycling, but is now turning its attention to water conservation. Water costs have risen 16 percent in the last year due to the City’s project to seismically improve the pipeline from the Sierras that brings San Francisco its water. UCSF has already implemented many water conserving programs.

Parnassus Central Utility Plant (PCUP)

For instance, UCSF labs require very clean water that is filtered at the Parnassus Central Utility Plant (PCUP). In 2008, PCUP engineers replumbed the plant to use the “reject” water that previously went down the drain.  The “reject” water is now sent to the plant cooling towers to cool the engines. This project saves UCSF 4.7 million gallons of water at a cost savings of $50,000 per year and won a Best Practice award at the Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

The PCUP more recently focused on maximizing the amount of condensate (condensed steam) returned from campus while minimizing the amount that was put down the drain. PCUP engineers made repairs and operational adjustments a top priority and conducted daily trend analysis to identify losses before they become a long-term problem. These efforts have resulted in a drop in the water usage at the PCUP from 44,000 gallons of water per day to 12,000 gallons of water per day. Over the course of a year, this represents an estimated savings of 11.6 million gallons of water. (see Table 1 - PCUP Boiler Water Makeup)

Table 1:  PCOP Boiler Water Makeup
Average Gallons Used per Day (Before):  44,316
Average Gallons Used per Day (After):  12,499
Daily Average Gallons Water Saved:  31,817
Annual Estimated Gallons Water Saved:  11,613,095
Cost Savings Water 1-Year:  $199,178.69
Cost Savings Energy 1-Year:  $79,951.70
TOTAL COST SAVINGS:  $279,130.39

The PCUP has also installed a new turbine that does not need to use water to control air pollution emissions like the previous turbine. The prior system also used 6,000 gallons of water a day totaling 2,190,000 gallons per year − water that is now saved with the new turbine.

Parnassus Campus Water Audit

UCSF has just undertaken a water conservation audit at Parnassus campus to determine how our water is used and where we can improve. The study’s recommendations show that UCSF can save approximately 32,500 gallons of water per day by implementing several small and moderate scale projects with a potential savings of $275,000 per year.

The small-scale and moderate-scale projects included reduction of pressure on laboratory distilled faucets, installation of low-flow faucet aerators in industrial, exam room, and laboratory faucets, retrofitting public restroom fixtures with high efficiency flush valves and other projects to curtail water consumption throughout the Parnassus campus.

While the final report is in production, we’d like to recognize the extent of the collaborative effort that made the audit possible. This project, like so many that UCSF Facilities Management commissions, involved multiple units and is an example of UCSF staff’s commitment to support each other as we strive to fulfill our mission of “creating an exceptional physical campus environment in support of advancing health worldwide.”

LeaksEveryone at UCSF can help the campus save water. Please report water leaks through our See it – Fix it program to the Customer Service Center at 476-2021. If you have other suggestions for how we might save water, please forward them to Winifred Kwofie (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

Irrigation Controllers

Facilities management is also implementing a water conservation program for UCSF irrigation systems that will eventually reduce UCSF’s irrigation water consumption by 37 percent. The system continually measures the amount of moisture the grounds are receiving from nature, and automatically adjusts the sprinkler system to calculate of how much additional water to supply.  It also alerts the staff about any anomalies in the flow that indicate leaks, breaks or electrical problems. It is controlled remotely, by desktop computer, in addition to a handheld remote device.

Testing started in 2007, and installation began in 2009. Facilities management staff is slowly implementing it building by building. The system is currently installed at Mission Bay in the Quad, the Helen Diller Building and The Smith Building (Cardiovascular Research), at 654 Minnesota Street and the Kirkham Childcare and Dolby (IRM) buildings on the Parnassus Campus. Savings are already significant − staff is measuring and testing to see if they meet or exceed the projected 37 percent savings.