UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, December 2017

Sylvia DeCourcey and Liana Crosby: Winner of the 2017 Sustainability Award in the Staff Category

For 2017, the Sustainability Award in the Staff Category went to two individuals: Liana Crosby and Sylvia DeCourcey.

Liana Crosby

Liana Crosby MFA, the School of Pharmacy Dean’s Executive Assistant, was recognized with a Sustainability Award for engaging her entire school in environmental sustainability. She was nominated by Nakisha Rice and Dean Guglielmo in the School of Pharmacy Dean’s office for consistently ensuring that sustainability information, such as the UCOP Climate Lab videos and UCSF newsletters, are distributed and presented to all staff. She attended the Green Event Planner Training and applies sustainable food options and zero waste practices at department events. She shares her knowledge with the dean, vice deans, associate deans, and staff.

Liana diligently works to limit use of paper and plastic products and increase reusable mugs, plates, and utensils.  She had the office printer default changed to double-sided printing and successfully worked to help the office receive a Living Green Gold Certification and is working on additional measures to seek Platinum certification.

We had the chance to connect with Liana about her efforts and personal interest in sustainability:

1.  What sparked your interested in sustainability?

A need to bring sustainability efforts to my new unit. I wanted our office to be certified (my old office was). Also, moving to a new home, setting up solar panels, and looking at the cost of waste (and how much more efficient it is to recycle or compost), made me want to keep up the efforts at work.

2.  Why do you believe sustainability is relevant at UCSF?

In the past, innovation has brought a great deal of waste with it. We can show that it doesn’t have to be that way. We can create healthcare products and services that add value, but also minimize our footprint. We can show that this can be done! Our students care so much about this and have wonderful ideas – we should engage them!

3.  What one call to action do you have to other faculty, staff and students?

Everything human beings make and use creates waste. We must think about how we can turn that around and be an example to other organizations around the country.

4.  What achievement are you most proud of?

I’m proud that in my house we generate almost all the electricity we use from solar energy. I’m thrilled that we invested in it. We are now helping my parents get solar panels on their home.

5.  What tip would you offer to other departments interested in tackling sustainability food and zero waste events?

We need to change our thinking. People feel bad about not providing soda at meetings. But water is so much healthier – you are doing good by not serving soda. Ask the caterer to provide carafes of filtered water, instead of bottled water. You will be helping people develop healthier habits.
LivingGreen has wonderful tips for holding zero waste events. I attended the training and found it so useful. LivingGreen has great resources on their website – be sure to check them out!

Sylvia DeCourcey

Sylvia has been actively engaged in sustainability efforts in the UCSF Office of Medical Education. She has served on the department’s Green Team for many years and has chaired it as well. As the of the Manager of space for the Medical Education (OME) @ Mission Center, Sylvia was responsible for their move to a new suite in Mission Center in which approximately 25 staff and faculty work and many others visit often. Throughout the planning process and on an ongoing basis, Sylvia focused on greening the new space in several ways. She used the ongoing changes she has made to also educate the staff and faculty in Medical Education about the importance of sustainability in the workplace. Her specific contributions are noted below:

During her time as manager of OME @ Mission Center, she has relentlessly built and increased awareness on a number of green initiatives and UCSF sustainability efforts.  For example, she has included ongoing guidance from the UCSF Office of Sustainability in the management of the suite at Mission Center. Moreover she has prompted Office of Medical Education Suites at the other UCSF sites to follow suit.  For instance, when the Office of Sustainability posted the story on the impact of the K Cup coffee filters on the environment, she ensured that the K Cup Coffee maker was removed from the OME Mission Center Suite and also contacted the OME Parnassus suite to do the same. The OME Parnassus suite agreed. 

Sylvia has negotiated a robust waste management system into the OME Mission Center suite, has ensured the suite draws items from surplus to mitigate waste and over purchasing, and has used recycled/donated art to decorate the suite.
Finally, Sylvia has also worked with the recently hired OME Communications Manager to ensure that all OME staff and faculty receive UCSF Office of Sustainability News and Announcements which has made many OME faculty members and staff aware of these important announcements. The OME Communications now include these announcements in the ongoing newsletter.

We had the chance to connect with Sylvia about her efforts and personal interest in sustainability:

1.  What sparked your interested in sustainability and waste reduction?

Growing up in the Bay Area, I have always been interested in protecting the environment and recycling. It started in elementary school with learning about Earth Day and protecting the Earth and our limited resources. Almost a decade ago, in our department a group of staff dedicated to sustainability started meeting together to talk about how we could be more environmentally aware; we called ourselves the Green Team. We had the support from our associate dean and were able to create some department wide initiatives for sustainability.  Although we don’t meet anymore, the Office of Medical Education, is still very committed to sustainability and waste reduction—recycling and compost are part of the culture now and almost all of the office spaces for OME are Living green certified.  With the new office spaces, sustainability is now always a factor in the design.

2.  Why do you believe sustainability is relevant at UCSF?

UCSF is one of the largest employers in San Francisco and with many people working at different locations all over the city, the impact of UCSF is great.  It is nice to see the commitment and dedication that UCSF has to sustainability and waste reduction.

3.  What one call to action do you have to other faculty, staff and students?

Reduce, reuse, and recycle! Very simple and what the kids learn, but very valid and important.

4.  What achievement are you most proud of?

Being part of a movement that started over eight years ago, for our department to have all of the office spaces Living Green certified.