UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact - November, 2020

Four Ways to Green Your Home Office or Win Free Offsets by Certifying your Home

The Office of Sustainability has expanded its LivingGreen certification program to include the home, taking advantage of the fact that many UCSF employees are currently working remotely.

Get your home certified. It’s fun, might save you money, and if you complete the certification process, UCSF will offset one ton of carbon emissions from Cool Effect. Participants can choose from a range of projects.

LivingGreen Home Certification program >>>

If you aren’t ready yet to go for the full certification, here are four tips to save energy and carbon emissions at home:

  1. Reduce your carbon footprint
  2. Switch to green power (even if you are a renter)
  3. Eat more sustainable food
  4. Reduce water use at home

1. Reduce your Carbon Footprint: When we turn on the lights, plug in computers, or heat our homes, we use electricity or burn natural gas. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are then released into the air. We all need to do our part to help reduce GHG emissions - often referred to as reducing our carbon footprint. At home, there are three simple steps on your path toward going carbon neutral:

  • Calculate Your Carbon Footprint:  There are many carbon calculators available online. UCSF Office of Sustainability recommends The Nature Conservancy’s.
  • Reduce Where you Can: There are many ways to reduce your carbon emissions—you can drive a hybrid or electric car (check out UCSF’s discounts), eat less red meat, install a solar system (see SunShares), or upgrade your stove to electric. See below for more ideas.
  • Consider offsetting your annual emissions: Carbon offsets are an option for individuals and households interested in reducing, or offsetting, their carbon footprint. Carbon offsets allow you to “compensate for” your personal carbon emissions by supporting a project that provides greenhouse gas reductions. Offsets can be purchased from a range of online retailers, such as Cool Effect, a local Bay Area company that allows individuals to support a range of projects that reduce carbon and provide a social impact.

2. Switch to Green Power (even if you are a renter): The Bay Area offers renters, and home owners not ready to install solar, several clean energy options. For San Francisco residents, CleanPowerSF,  San Francisco’s Community Choice Aggregation program, offers cost-effective, cleaner energy alternatives for your home. Enrolling in CleanPowerSF’s 100% renewable SuperGreen energy is the number one action San Francisco residents can take to help the City reach its climate action goals. Greener, cleaner energy is now provided throughout the Bay Area. Other clean energy programs offer 100% renewable options.

3. Eat more Sustainable Food: Choose Organic, Local Food: Choose local, organic produce and food products. Organic agriculture can reduce carbon dioxide, save energy, slow climate change, and reduce your exposure to chemicals and additives. And, with the average piece of produce traveling 1,500 miles, buying locally-grown produce, or growing your own, can make an impact. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers a guide to healthier eating, “Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives”, which details the additives to try and avoid. To reduce your carbon footprint, learn more about the Low-Carbon Diet, join a community-supported agriculture or grow your own food at home.

4. Reduce Water Use: There are some simple ways to reduce water use at home, including installing low-flow toilets and aerators to faucets and adding rain barrels to your landscaping to collect rain water.  Saving water from your shower or produce washing can be used to water plants.

For more ideas for greening your home, explore UCSF’s new home green certification program.