UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, August 2012

Spotlight on UCSF Sustainability Award Winner:  Lisa Hartmayer

Lisa2Lisa Hartmayer, RN, from the UCSF Orthopedic Institute was recently awarded the UCSF 2012 Sustainability Award.  Ms. Hartmayer has actively promoted sustainability for many years and single-handedly started the UCSF Green Group that brings together nurses, physicians, environmental services and support staff to plan and implement sustainable practices across the medical center. She did all of this outside of her work hours.

We had the opportunity to ask the Ms. Hartmayer a few questions about sustainability at UCSF.

1. Why do you think sustainability is important for UCSF?

Environmental sustainability concepts innervate all areas of health and the health care system. Incorporating sustainable actions into our every day work is necessary for UCSF to continue to be a leader in healthcare.   

2. What do you see as the link between health and the environment?

In the late 1800s, Florence Nightingale said “It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm”.  However, we often forget that our health is connected to the health of the environment.  Patients and staff’s health is directly connected to the wellness of the Medical Center and clinic settings.  We need to work to create healthy environments, including the hospital environment so that our patients can heal and recover.  We must emphasize prevention of disease just as we should emphasize protection of the environment. We must understand the connection between the products, materials, water, and air quality to our own health and living environments. 

3. What accomplishment are you most proud of around promoting sustainability at UCSF?

I am most proud of the work I have done around changing the culture of sustainability at UCSF.  When I became interested in environmental health, I was disappointed to learn there was no system in place at that time to address sustainability issues. I worked to get nurses, students and staff together to discuss their concerns as well as ideas to make UCSF a more sustainability medical center and university. We worked together to start the Green Group, but more importantly start the movement of both a bottom up and top down approach to sustainability. When I hear students talk about an environmental health project they are working on, or that a staff member was able to donate medical equipment to Remedy I feel that I have contributed to help create a culture shift at UCSF.

4. What is one action you would like to see your fellow staff/students take?

I would like to see everyone make a change that they are capable of within their daily work.  Whether that is to bike to work instead of driving, or turn off their computer monitor at the end of the day each small step towards a more sustainable working environment is meaningful.  When an individual takes action and makes changes he or she is able to consistently carry out, that influences others to make changes.  Over time, many small sustainable changes makes UCSF a more environmentally sustainable place to work and study.

Congratulations to Ms. Hartmayer.