UCSF Sustainability Stories

Ana Toepel and Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, February 2019

UCSF’s FY18 Annual Sustainability Report: A Year of Connecting Health and Climate Change

In FY 2017-18 (FY18) UC San Francisco (UCSF) continued to be a leader in health and sustainability. One of the ways UCSF demonstrated leadership was by highlighting the connection between health and climate change in many of its sustainability efforts—from embedding carbon neutrality into its “True North” pillars to tackling energy use in labs to integrating climate change and environmental health into the School of Medicine’s curriculum.  Another of UCSF’s noteworthy initiatives was making a major shift to the use of renewable energy, with the inception of a six-site solar installation project and the purchase of electric buses for its shuttle fleet, which delivered sizable reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This story highlights some of the greatest FY18 sustainability accomplishments for both UCSF Campus (Parnassus, Mission Bay, Mission Center, Mt. Zion, and other locations) and UCSF Health (UCSF Medical Center at Mt. Zion, UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, and various clinics). If you are interested in more details, you can read the full FY18 UCSF Sustainability Report online or refer to the Executive Summary.

UCSF was recognized again last year for leadership in sustainability by Practice Greenhealth and Becker’s Healthcare. UCSF Health received Practice Greenhealth’s 2018 Greenhealth Emerald Award, their second highest recognition award for leadership in sustainability. For the fourth year in a row, Becker’s Hospital Review named UCSF Health one of the 68 greenest hospitals in America. UCSF Health was also ranked as both the sixth best hospital in the country and top-ranked hospital in California by U.S. News & World Report.

Climate Change

UCSF made great strides to reduce its carbon footprint in 2018. The university signed a Power Purchase Agreement with SunPower to complete six new solar installations, which will produce approximately 3.1 million kilowatt hours of renewable, emissions-free electricity per year (about 4% of the annual electricity used at UCSF—enough to completely power 446 average California homes). Fifteen new Build Your Dreams electric transit buses were purchased to replace diesel shuttles and 16 new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations were installed, making a total of 84 stations available for the UCSF community and visitors. Additionally, UCSF reduced its GHG emissions by 11.8% from the prior year, despite adding 1.4 million sq. ft. (Mission Bay Hospitals, Mission Hall, Sandler Neurosciences, and Aldae Community Center)—in part due to energy efficient design, retrofits, and behavior change campaigns.

Last year UCSF Campus reduced its water consumption per weighted campus user by 49% compared to the 2007 baseline, already surpassing the new University of California Office of the President (UCOP) goal of 36% by 2025. UCSF Health reduced its annual per capita water use from 455 gallons in FY09 to 331 in FY18, a 13% reduction from the baseline. To encourage further reductions in water use, UCSF Facilities completed a pilot project for the new Water Efficient Equipment Incentive Program.

Zero Waste

Working toward its goal of achieving zero waste by 2020, UCSF Campus diverted 78% of its waste (excluding construction & demolition) from the landfill in FY18. This is the second highest diversion rate among all the UC schools! UCSF Health diverted 38% (excluding construction & demolition) and reprocessed single use devices for the sixth year, saving $1.9M. In partnership with MedShare, UCSF Health donated 8,066 pounds of medical supplies and equipment to be repurposed at clinics/hospitals in need worldwide.

In line with its commitment to sourcing environmentally-friendly paper, UCSF Documents & Media added TreeZero paper, made from 100% bagasse and carbon neutral, for use in its print orders. As part of the new campaign to reduce energy use in labs, the UCSF Office of Sustainability raised awareness about choosing energy efficient options like Energy Star and EPEAT when purchasing lab equipment.

Sustainable Food

There were some key accomplishments for FY18 in making UCSF’s food offerings more sustainable. Campus Life Services (CLS) Retail achieved 45% of total spend on sustainable food and UCSF Health achieved 24%—both exceeding the goal of 20%. Additionally, seven departments committed to go beef and lamb free for their food purchases.

Toxics Reduction
Two existing buildings and five new projects agreed to purchase furnishings that are free of toxic chemicals, following the guidelines of the Living Building Challenge Red List. UCSF has contracted One Workplace to procure discounts from manufacturers that produce Red List-free products. UCSF’s Dr. Mark Miller, Co-Director of the Western States Pediatric Environmental Specialty Unit (PEHSU), consulted on a new children’s environmental health video entitled Cause or Cure? which explains how toxins in the environment contribute to the development of childhood diseases.

Culture Shift

UCSF continued to embed sustainability in the culture of the university in FY18. The Office of Sustainability held the 8th Annual Sustainability Awards ceremony, which recognized UCSF faculty, students, and staff members for their efforts in implementing sustainability measures. Over 143 offices, labs, clinics/units, and event planners have been certified thus far by their LivingGreen certification program. UCSF Finance and Administrative Services made reaching carbon neutrality a strategic priority. The UCSF Medical School enabled medical students to take a deep dive into environmental health by integrating the topic into the inquiry blocks of its Bridges Curriculum.

Sustainable Operations/Green Labs
UCSF encouraged all of its labs to reduce energy use by launching a new poster campaign with a clear call to action: reduce wasted energy by turning off lab equipment and monitors during non-occupied hours. The campaign focused on simple, small actions labs can take, such as using timers on equipment, to collectively make a difference.

Green Building

In FY18 UCSF continued construction of its Precision Cancer Medicine Building (PCMB), which is seeking a LEED Gold Certification, the second highest rating level, for green building. Some of its sustainability features include: higher air exchanges and use of 100% filtered outside air; PVC-free wall protection/handrails, flooring, and upholstery; elimination of Red List chemicals in furnishings; and infrastructure for the future installation of solar panels on the roof.