UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, October 2016

Spotlight on UCSF Sustainability Award Winner:  Dr. Hyunil Jo, Staff Category

Dr. Hyunil Jo, Specialist, UCSF School of Pharmacy, was recently awarded the UCSF 2016 Sustainability Award in the staff category. He was recognized for his leadership and support of the very successful “shut the sash” energy competition. The project depended on effective outreach to the researchers in his lab. Dr. Jo successfully engaged the researchers in his lab and promoted real behavior change. The goal of the competition was to instill behavioral change among variable fume hood users with a simple call to action—to simply “shut the sash” to hoods when they are not in use. When a sash is lowered to the proper position when not in use, it achieves a 60% reduction in cubic feet per minute (cfm) usage, reducing energy consumption.  This simple change can save labs $800/hood/year. The fume hood competition resulted in actual savings of about 46,000 kWh, nearly 4,000 therms and over $11,000 in cost savings. This enormous impact would not have been possible without Dr. Jo’s assistance and leadership.

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

1. What sparked your interested in sustainability personally?
My son, a 4th grader, is participating in the “Green Team” program from his elementary school. This program is designed to teach the students to separate the recyclables from their lunch waste. One day, he asked me if Styrofoam was recyclable or not, and I gave him the wrong answer (technically correct but practically incorrect). Then I began to think about sustainability.

2.  How do you see the connection between health care and sustainability?
The health of an individual can be affected by many factors including genetic and environmental changes. Both changes are, I believe, ultimately associated with the ecosystem. Keeping the ecosystem healthy and alive is an important part of keeping individuals and communities healthy as well. 

3.  What inspired you to get involved in sustainability at UCSF?
Chemistry is generally perceived to damage the environment more than protect it. As a synthetic chemist at UCSF, I have been feeling guilty about not making a great effort toward greener chemistry. 

4.  What aspect of sustainability at UCSF do you find most exciting?  Most challenging?
I find the intensive recycling effort at UCSF most exciting, and reducing disposable plastic lab-ware is most challenging to me.

5.  What one call to action would you ask of the UCSF community?
Use bio-degradable plastic if possible

6.  What is one thing about yourself we might not know if you didn’t tell us?
I grew up in the 80’s in Korea, and I didn’t think about sustainability at all before coming to California. It was UCSF in particular that opened my eyes to environmental issues.