UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, October 2013

UCSF Medical Center Awarded Sustainability Awardby UHC and Named One of America’s Greenest Hospitals

UHC Sustainability Award acceptanceAt the recent University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) conference in Atlanta, GA, the medical center was awarded the UHC Sustainability Award for its commitment to sustainable healthcare operations. This award is in it’s second year, and recognizes only one hospital in its alliance of 120 academic medical centers and 300 affiliated hospitals representing the nation’s leading academic medical centers.  The award honors a UHC member’s commitment to sustainability as measured by the following criteria: a demonstrated, continuous commitment to a sustainability strategy; a quantifiable means of measuring and reporting progress toward and achievement of sustainability goals; and a demonstrated commitment to increasing awareness of and communicating about the sustainability program to staff and internal stakeholders and throughout the community.

logo1UCSF Medical Center has been named to Becker’s Hospital Review list, “50 of the Greenest Hospitals in America,” which recognizes the greenest health care organizations in the country.  The leading 50 hospitals on the list incorporate ecological health, green initiatives and environmental stewardship as foundational pieces of their mission, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.  These 50 hospitals represent 9% of all registered hospitals in the US

“Being recognized as the second recipient ever to receive UHC’s annual Sustainability Award is a great honor. Being recognized as one of 50 by Becker’s Hospital Review highlights UCSF Medical Center’s commitment to sustainability and an industry trend. Both validate our forward-thinking efforts to protect the environment,” said Gail Lee, UCSF Sustainability Manager. UCSF also was recently recognized by Practice Greenhealth and the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) for integrating environmental responsibility into its operations.  In the recent HHI 2012 Milestone Report, UCSF was commended for its adoption of “greener” chemicals. UCSF is highlighted as a success story on page 23 of the report for recognizing the “importance of making evidence-based decisions related to its environmental initiatives.”

This was evident when the opportunity arose to participate in a 2012 study focusing on the link between sterilants, disinfectants and adverse health effects in health care workers.  “UCSF Medical Center was eager to contribute its experience and expertise,” the report states. “As a result of the study, UCSF realized that harsh cleaners were impacting their air quality and worker safety, and set a goal of standardizing chemical use and transitioning to safer, healthier cleaners where possible.”

Highlights of Other Sustainability Initiatives

cleaningThe medical center’s sustainability report and the 2013 UCSF Sustainable Foodservice Annual Report detail UCSF’s journey to greener operations, from using greener cleaning supplies to reducing medical waste to increasing sustainable food purchases.  The medical center’s accomplishments include: 

• Composting 90 percent of its food waste from cafeterias, staff lounges and patient rooms;
• Recycling 81 percent of patient rooms have recycling;
• Serving only organic baby food;
• Completing two LEED-certified facilities, saving energy throughout their lifetime;
• Replacing toxic cleaners with certified Green Seal cleaning products;
• Donating more than 13,000 pounds of medical equipment and supplies to international hospitals/clinics;
• Using microfiber mops that require less water and last twice as long as string mops to clean floors;
• Using cleaning solutions with fewer volatile organic compounds, which create pollution when they are released into the air; and
• Increasing sustainable food purchases from 9.5 percent to 23 percent in four years.

Highlights of Savings

The medical center’s sustainability efforts to reduce waste, reduce emissions, improve quality and increase efficiency, as well as shift the culture, not only reduce UCSF’s impact on the environment and community, they also save UCSF money. Savings from sustainability programs at the medical center include:

• $1.3 million/year in estimated energy savings from replacing one of two absorption chillers and upgrading the chilled water piping and pumping systems at the Moffitt-Long hospitals;
• $751,000/year saved by repurchasing reprocessed medical devices;
• $250,000/year saved by converting from off-site to onsite treatment of medical waste;
• $240,000/year saved through the purchase of reusable pillows; and
• $105,000/year saved by reusing sharps containers.