Greening the Health System

Emerald 2019The UCSF Health has made significant gains in sustainability activities over the the past few years.  These website pages are solely devoted to those developments and will showcase that work of the departments and individuals who have lead the way to making UCSF Health a leader in healthcare sustainability nationwide.

Sustainability efforts at UCSF Health were recognized in the early 2003 when we were awarded the Healthcare Without Harm’s (now Practice Green Health) Making Mercury-Free Award by removing mercury from thermometers, sphygmomanometers, barometers, thermostats and bougies and provided policies in place to prevent mercury in equipment from being brought back into our medical facilities. That effort built further momentum for Environmental Health and Safety, clinical staff, Hospitality, Facilities and Support Services, Nutrition and Food Services and the Perioperative Department to take individual and coordinate action to incrementally take on waste reduction and cost savings projects.

UCSF Medical Center received the Practice GreenHealth Partner for Change Award in 2010 by implementing recycling programs, developing programs to reduce waste and implementing waste tracking programs.

In 2011, UCSF Medical Center received the Practice GreenHealth Partner for Change Award with Distinction by further increasing our solid waste diversion rate in the perioperative areas, reprocessing in cardiac catheterization lab and composting our food waste.

UCSF signed onto the Healthier Hospital Initiative,(HHI) in 2012.  HHI is a national campaign to implement a completely new approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector. Eleven of the largest, most influential U.S. health systems, comprising over 475 hospitals with more than $20 billion in purchasing power, worked with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design and Practice Greenhealth to create HHI as a guide for hospitals to reduce energy and waste, choose safer and less toxic products, and purchase and serve healthier foods.

Also in 2012, UCSF Health received the Practice GreenHealth Partner for Change Award with Distinction by significantly increasing our solid waste diversion with 98% composting in the cafeteria and patient food areas in addition to reprocessing of single use medical devices, Surgery department recycling outreach and education, collection of unusable medical supplies for donation, energy efficiency projects, farmer’s markets, and more.  UCSF Health received this PGH distinction in 2013 and 2014 as well. 

In 2013, Becker’s Hospital Review created a recognition for green hospitals and UCSF Health was named as one of the 50 Greenest Hospitals in America.  UCSF Health was later recognized by the University HealthSystem Consortium with their second ever Sustainability Award.  Procurement staff accepted the award at this national conference of academic hospitals held in Atlanta. 

In early 2014, UCSF Medical Center received the Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions gold level Healthy Hospital Award for their achievement in maintaining the top percentile amongst national hospitals.  Please see our 2013 and 2014 Sustainability Report which outlines this and other accomplishments.

In early 2015, the new Medical Center at Mission Bay opened a Children’s Hospital, a Women’s Hospital and a Cancer Hospital which will be seeking the US Green Building Council’s LEED-Gold certification.  Sustainability in the design was a top priority and focused on daylighting, energy efficiency, water conservation, public service, healthy materials, and healing gardens.  Read our sustainability story on our website.  You can also see our story about Green Design from the Ground Up.

In 2015, UCSF received Practice GreenHealth’s highest honor, the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award.  Only 25 hospitals nationally are recognized for their leadership in sustainability based upon their award application submittal.  In addition, UCSF received recognition in the Circles of Excellence highlighting remarkable work in the areas of Green Building, Climate and Leadership.  UCSF was named again as one of the 50 Greenest Hospitals in America by Becker’s Hospital Review, based upon our public reporting.

Again in 2016, UCSF was recognized for the second year in a row for the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award and Circles of Excellence in Green Building and Climate.  Becker’s Hospital Review also name UCSF MC one of the 50 Greenest Hospitals in America.  Now with three hospitals, multiple clinics, and new affiliates with Benioff Children’s Hospital, John Muir Heatlh System, Washington Hospital Health Systems and Marin General, the newly named UCSF Health strives to maintain, improve and spread our sustainable practices to our affiliates. 

In 2017, 2018, and 2019, UCSF Health received Practice GreenHealth’s second highest award level, the Emerald Award.  Increased competition from all the Veteran’s Administrative hospitals and Kaiser Hospitals has made achieving the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award very challenging but UCSF Health is up for the challenge.

You will find our all Medical Center Sustainability Reports for 2012, 2013-14, 2015.  In 2016 and 2017, we consolidated our report into one UCSF Sustainability Report and published Executive summaries(2015 and 2016) for the UCSF Medical Center (later UCSF Health) and the Campus.  You will also find a healthcare news section, and a Resource Library to learn more about the movement to green hospitals nationwide, and ways we can all make a difference.

For a separate summary of UCSF and UCSFHealth highlights for 2016-2018 accomplishments at the UCSF Health, see the UCSF Sustainability Report for those years

In 2018, UCSF Health received funding from the UC Office of the President for an Energy Engineer/Manager to focus on reducing energy and carbon emissions.  In 2019, a newly reorganized Facilities department created an Energy, Infrastructure and Sustainability team consisting of an energy manager, an professional engineer, an infrastructure manager, a junior engineer and the UCSF/UCSF Health sustainability director.