Deborah Fleischer & Carol DiBenedetto, Green Impact, May 2015
Water Alert in California: How You Can Help
In the fourth year of a severe drought in California, most of us know that conservation is more important than ever. And UCSF, with its community of faculty, staff, residents, takes the business of water efficiency and conservation seriously. Not only is it good for the community and the environment, it also saves money.
UCSF is Committed to Big Challenges Ahead
The good news is that UCSF has reason to celebrate its progress to date, as it’s already exceeded its 2014 goal of reducing per capita water use by 20 percent throughout the UC system by the year 2020. But this is no time to rest on our laurels, in light of the continuing fierce drought in the West, and Governor Jerry Brown’s mandate of 25 percent water reduction by Feb 2016. University of California, an acknowledged leader in conservation, has already stepped up to this challenge and continues to play a leadership role in demonstrating workable water solutions that address the formidable water, energy and climate challenges facing California, the nation and the world.
Water conservation has long been a key component of UCSF’s sustainability priorities. And problems as big as this drought just beg for collaborative strategies. Understanding this, UCSF has partnered with diverse stakeholders, from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), for water audits and analysis, rebates, free low-flow components, to the Alliance to Save Energy to the extended UCSF community.
UCSF’s New Water Guy
This is where Eliahu Perszyk comes in. While his formal title is Water Consumption Coordinator, he might be known soon around campus as Eli the water guy. On the job for only a few weeks, he’s thrilled to be working with UCSF’s facilities team to focus solely on water consumption and efficiency. This week, Eli is celebrating his sixth week anniversary at UCSF, after spending his past eight years as a facilities manager for UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. There he worked on seeking out efficiencies in the water, energy, and waste management operations within buildings and landscapes. As the new guy on the block, Eli is looking forward to making an impact. “We’re very fortunate to have Eli on board. He has hit the ground running and we are already seeing great progress,” said Gail Lee, sustainability manager for the campus and medical center.
Eli shared, ”The key is to talk to the campus community. Let’s look at your operations and how could it be done water-efficiently. We’re happy to come in and help you retrofit things. For example, some labs have 20 year old glass washing and sterilizing equipment and there’s a rebate program that I’m trying to get people involved in.” Eli enjoys figuring out how and when to get the resources together to solve big problems.
Eli is hands-on in his approach. He explained, “I’m interested in people communicating to me about what they see as opportunities for water savings. And I want them to know that if there’s some toilet that’s flushing out of control, I’m out there as a point person. That they think, oh, I can tell this guy when I see something wrong, and he’ll try and do something about it.” You could say that he likes to crowdsource solutions.
Right now, Eli is working on understanding the water consumption for the entire campus. Next up, he’ll work with the Water Working Group to analyze the water footprint of various operations within the campus.
Eli’s Call to Action: Report Leaks and Excess Water Flows
Review Your Personal Water Efficiency
Think about how you can improve your own efficiencies in your daily routines, both at home and at work. For example:
- Plant a native garden at home
- Take shorter and less frequent showers
- Use dishwashers and glasswashers - hand washing wastes water!
UCSF Water Plan for 2015: How Your Actions Fit into the Bigger Picture
Here are some of the priorities that Eli is working on for 2015:
1. Communicating water consumption data to the campus community. By developing a campus water dashboard and activating a sub-metering system, UCSF is able to analyze daily usage data and identify room for improvement.
2. Planting drought-tolerant landscapes and implementing more efficient irrigation meters and systems. UCSF has reduced watering schedules and turned off the Laurel Heights fountain. In addition, it is looking into converting landscaping to be drought tolerant as well improving irrigation.
3. Identifying ways to make UCSF laboratories more water efficient. By analyzing the operations (like glass washing) and equipment inventory (like old faucets) within the labs, UCSF will be able to take advantage of SFPUC rebate programs to update old equipment and pilot more water-efficient options (like faucets with foot pedals and laminar flow restrictors).
4. Looking for water efficiency opportunities and leak detection in campus housing, fitness centers, and across the campus. The majority of water conservation will be achieved by replacing old and inefficient fixtures. Housing Services will receive a $125 rebates from the SFPUC on the purchase of each new $200 low-flow toilet. New shower heads will be given to Housing Services from the SFPUC, and new sink aerators are being provided at no charge by the Energy Alliance. Laundry machines within Housing Services are already energy- and water-efficient models, provided by our vendor WASH.
UCSF thanks you for doing your part to Live Green.