Feature Stories

Ana Toepel, Green Impact, January 2019

UCSF Green Champion Highlight: Health Facilities Management

In 2018 a team from UCSF’s Medical Center Facilities Management (MCFM) received a UCSF Sustainability Award for their efforts to reduce their overall carbon footprint by encouraging staff members to commute using alternative forms of transportation. 

As well as using public transportation, many staff members chose to commute to and from work by bike. At the time of receiving the award, members were commuting over 500 miles per week and over 26,000 miles per year, resulting in a reduction of over 10 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions during the year. The team also organized community-building group bike rides and experienced other benefits such as team cohesion, stress reduction, weight loss, and a reduction in commute time. 

Bruce Mace, Director of Facilities Management, is one of the team members who supported these efforts, and he had the honor of presenting his team with the award at the 2018 UCSF Sustainability Awards ceremony. Last month I had the opportunity to chat with him and learn a bit more about what sparked the move to commute by bike and his thoughts about sustainable practices at UCSF. Below is what he shared during our conversation.

Why do you think sustainability is important for UCSF?
Sustainability is necessary for our children; what we do or do not do in terms of sustainable actions creates the world we will leave them. We all must be sustainable and need to change our individual behavior and the behavior of our enterprises. Over the 13 years I’ve been here, the university has come a long way in terms of focusing on sustainability, moving from pockets of work to larger directives university-wide and now system-wide. As a large employer and energy user, UCSF has a very real impact, and the way we look is important because of our eminence. Millions of people are looking at us and seeing us as leaders, and that can impact others. We have to step up to the plate.

What inspired you to start the biking programs and green efforts at MCFM?
When my daughter was a senior in high school she asked for a bike and started mountain bike racing. I started biking with her as a chance to share time and then thought of riding the bike to work. At first it was on a spotty basis, but then I really started feeling the benefits. A couple other folks followed suit, and then there was a ripple effect. Now, several people on the team commute by bike daily, and others are doing it more than occasionally. Our ride hours are actually up a bit from the time we won the award because another person joined the effort—and get this, while I was on PTO our office organized joining a 100-mile (century) ride recently. Hopefully our efforts result in a larger impact, like UCSF incentives for biking and a larger commitment around transportation alternatives, which seems like it might be on the horizon.

What accomplishment are you most proud of around promoting LiveGreen at UCSF?
I am proud of UCSF as a whole, extending all the way to the president of the UC system, to her commitment. Here in our department people in all different roles are getting involved in being greener, and I’m proud of the people I work with for their willingness to do something alternative. One of our Project Managers in the department has even been seen running with the bikers to get to and from work!

How do you personally live and work sustainably?
At home I’ve got to answer to my youngest daughter – and she is clear about what needs to be done to be sustainable, so we minimize and reuse as much as possible. It starts with one small piece of your life and then it expands. Now we’re focused on sustainable food at home as well – paying attention to the work that Dan Henroid does here at UCSF as our Nutrition and Food Services Director! At work we are focused on energy management here in our department, and when we are doing large capital projects, we prioritize energy efficiency and reducing energy use and our carbon footprint. I ride my bike to work most every day, rain or shine. Once you find ways to get over the barriers it becomes easier; for example, my daily buddy is the NOAA Weather website and an outside thermometer feed that guides my layering of clothing to wear for my ride.

Is there something we might be surprised to learn about you?
Being a long-time volunteer, I am currently working as a Suicide Prevention Crisis Counselor for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the 4-county north-bay region. Having been touched by that aspect of our world and feeling how it touches a growing segment of our young people specifically, it is a good fit, and very rewarding. You are not alone…National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1(800) 273-8255.

What actions related to sustainability would you encourage the UCSF community to take?
To inspire others to be more sustainable, set good examples, rather than attempt to do it solely with mandates. The UCSF community could focus on alternative transportation, and everyone can participate in some way. Check out local bike coalitions; they have great resources to support you in riding to commute. There are also apps that show you what the best bike commutes are. I would encourage people to at least just try the experience. It would be great to scale up biking at UCSF, with things like incentives for biking, and to have the sustainability and transportation offices working together toward this end.