UCSF Sustainability Stories

Ana Toepel, Green Impact, July 2020

UCSF Green Champion Spotlight on Danny De Leon: Saving Resources While Serving Housing Tenants

Last month, UCSF presented its 2020 Sustainability Awards—and the winner in the campus staff category was Danny De Leon, Housing Facilities Project Manager. Danny exemplifies what it means to show up as a community sustainability champion at UCSF, going the extra mile in his role to take the lead on greening initiatives and helping to develop a culture of sustainability amongst his colleagues.

When nominating Danny for the award, colleague Todd McGregor, Associate Director for Housing Services, explained, “Danny’s personal goals for housing improvement projects have been two-fold:  to achieve energy savings and improve services for tenants. Thus far, he has hit these targets…Danny has helped Housing Services save substantial resources and energy and made its buildings safer and more aesthetically-appealing for tenants.” McGregor also noted that Danny makes an effort to educate staff about improvements that can be made to both personal practices and business operations to make them more sustainable, “advocating for best practices in a spirited way.”

As McGregor expressed, “There is a lot of data to show that Danny is advancing our campus toward its sustainability goals.” Here are a few of Danny’s achievements:

  • Spearheading a lead paint mitigation program on several buildings at 5th Avenue housing, which cleared the buildings of any lead paint hazards, resulting in the buildings being safer for both tenants and the environment.
  • The installation of LED glass light fixtures at Aldea San Miguel housing, which have a lifespan of 50,000 hours and a photocell that turns lights on and off automatically.  Currently, Aldea is close to having all LED lighting.
  • The replacement of lighting fixtures in the garages at 5th Avenue housing with LEDs, achieving a 70% percent savings in energy and reducing electricity draw by 10,000 watts, about the equivalent of the energy needed to power 10 refrigerators!
  • Pressure washing the buildings at Aldea San Miguel housing instead of replacing the siding that was deteriorating, which kept eight pallets of old shingles out of the landfill and avoided the use of eight pallets of new shingles. For just one building, nearly the equivalent of one 40’ long storage container full of processed shingles and siding was saved! The buildings also look fresh and new, and the stairs and walkways are safer.

When we spoke with Danny about his award and his commitment to sustainability, he shared that “there has to be someone who’s thinking about these innovations” but that he wouldn’t have been able to pursue his goals without the critical support he’s received from his department. Danny explained that last year, he took classes in sustainability through UC Berkeley Extension, which was possible because of funding from UCSF’s professional development program. This experience “opened his eyes to another world of products, techniques, and processes” that could integrate sustainability into the work of his department.

He added that, contrary to what many people believe, this world of sustainable practices is not necessarily more expensive and is not unachievable: those are misconceptions. “Sustainability measures save money and that has a direct positive impact on residents, like saving money on electricity.” He says the important thing is to stay focused on the tenant experience, because decisions around sustainability can directly impact people’s living conditions and health.

Danny’s Message for Other UCSF Innovators

When asked about what he was proud of, Danny named the Aldea San Miguel Housing project to restore the cedar shingles on the buildings rather than replace them, which involved working together with new people. He says he learned a lesson from this project that could serve others who are trying to green a project of theirs or make their supply chain more sustainable: “If you continue to engage in dialogue with a variety of opinions and perspectives, you can find different ways to achieve something. Instead of always going for the old and known, we need to maintain an open mind for alternative ways to accomplish things.”

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View the recorded awards ceremony