Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, December 2016

UCSF’s New FY16 Sustainability Annual Report: Living Our Commitments to Health & Sustainability

UC San Francisco Campus (UCSF) and UCSF Health, which includes Mt Zion Hospital, Children’s Hospital San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Moffitt/Long Hospitals at Parnassus, Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital, and Bakar Cancer Hospital at Mission Bay, continued to demonstrate leadership in health and sustainability during FY 2015-16 (FY16). This article highlights UCSF’s greatest sustainability accomplishments on its campus and at UCSF Health over the FY16.  For those interested in more details, please see the full online Annual Report.  You can download an Executive Summary for the campus HERE and an Executive Summary for UCSF Health HERE.

UCSF received significant recognition as a leader in sustainability. During FY16, UCSF Health received multiple awards and accolades for its innovative efforts to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency, and promote sustainable food. A key accomplishment this past year was the recognition we received from Practice Green Health (PGH), including the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award for the second year in a row, honoring our demonstrated performance in sustainability leadership, energy savings, water conservation, waste reduction, employee engagement, and green chemicals. This award reflects UCSF Health’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint and becoming a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is Practice Greenhealth’s highest honor for hospitals.  Selected from 275 applicants, these 25 hospitals are leading the industry with innovation in sustainability, demonstrating superior programs and illustrating how sustainability is entrenched in their culture.

UCSF Health also received two PGH Circles of Excellence  awards for Climate and Green Building and a PGH Greening the OR Recognition Award. In addition, for the second year in a row, UCSF Health was listed in Becker’s Hospital Review 50 Greenest Hospitals in America. The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) honored UCSF with two best practices awards for our demonstrated performance in waste reduction and energy efficiency as well as an honorable mention for our work on reducing the use of meat and poultry products raised with non-therapeutic antibiotics.

UCSF continues to work hard toward its goal of carbon neutrality. Getting faculty, staff, and students out of their cars is a top priority and in FY16, the campus single occupancy vehicle (SOV) rate was an impressive 30.2%, a decrease of 4% over three years. Ten “Scoot” electric scooter-charging stations were installed at at Millberry Union and Rutter Center Parking Garages.  An agreement with Volta was signed to provide eight additional EV charging stations in FY17.

UCSF drove down campus energy use through a variety of efforts focused on reducing energy use in existing buildings through the Strategic Energy Partnership with PG&E. Five large MBCx projects were initiated, expected to save three million kWh/year, 70,000 therms/year, and roughly $446,000/year.  Through a rebate program, 29 ULT freezers were replaced with more energy-efficient models expected to save over $20,000/year. In addition, launched a successful Shut the Sash fume hood competition that engaged green champions, reducing wasted energy in labs.

UCSF is proud to announce that it has already met the new UCOP water reduction goal to reduce water consumption by 36% by 2025 compared to the 2007 baseline, yet continues to promote using water wisely.  UCSF saved 9.5 million gallons of water at Mission Bay campus by reducing turf irrigation and installed a state-of-the-art pool treatment system to reduce pool drainage frequency.The pool water is circulated through a new UV filter that helps with the disinfection and clarification.  The new system will allow UCSF to drain the pool less frequently, saving 100,000 gallons each time the pool is not drained.

The campus is working toward its goal of achieving zero waste by 2020.  In FY16, UCSF diverted 80.32% of its waste from the landfill. E-waste recycling, bulky item pick-up days, the Consolidation and Sorting Project, and a partnership with Bio-Link diverted over 100 tons of waste from landfill. UCSF Health diverted 25% of its waste through its recycling and composting programs, such as patient room recycling, blue-wrap recycling, composting of paper towels in bathrooms, and composting 90% of all patient and retail food waste.

When UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital moved to its new facility at Mission Bay, the hospital donated 63,000 pounds of medical equipment, furniture, and supplies to Harare Children’s Hospital in Zimbabwe. UCSF Health continues to reprocess single use devices in the OR, Cath lab, and patient care units, diverting 62,000 pounds of waste and generating $1.167M in savings.

Almost all offices and labs (99%) now use 100% post-consumer waste (PCW) copy paper. At UCSF Health, due to aggressive negotiations, all copy paper is now 100% PCW paper and cost less than 30% PCW. Both the campus and UCSF Health adopted DocuSign, an electronic signature program, eliminating paper signature printing and storage costs, and as a result of new print management contract, all printers will be Energy Star and use 100% PCW paper.  The completed transition to E-procurement eliminates a pallet/year of copy paper through electronic purchase ordering.

UCSF received an honorable mention from CHESC for our work on reducing the use of meat and poultry products raised with non-therapeutic antibiotics. UCSF Health achieved 25% of total spend on sustainable food—exceeding UCSF’s goal of reaching 20% sustainable food by 2020 five years early.

Due to negative health and environmental impacts, UCSF Health eliminated Triclosan, a common antibacterial compound, from hand soaps. Also eliminated Roundup use for weed control in landscaping and grounds. In addition, completed a peer review and updated the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit for health practitioners.


EarthHealth TeamUCSF has been active in hosting events and programs that support a culture of sustainability. The first UCSF Curriculum Workshop was a success, attracting twenty UCSF faculty members from the UCSF professional schools and graduate division to explore opportunities to integrate climate change into the UCSF curriculum. The Greening of Healthcare Workshop, gathered over a hundred environmental health specialists, nurses, medical students, and sustainability practitioners to explore the link between sustainability and healthcare. 

UCSF hosted EARTHEALTH1, a first ever student-run climate change and health conference led by CNI fellow and fourth year medical student Alex Schrobenhauser-Clonan. The two-day event, featuring a host of nationally recognized speakers, was UCSF’s first student-led climate change and sustainable health care conference. The message of the conference was simple, but important – earth and its environment are inextricably linked to human health and wellbeing and in order to safeguard human health we need to maintain the health of our planet.

Chancellor Hawgood recognized UCSF’s green champions, presenting awards to faculty, staff, student, and team categories and awarded 19 LivingGreen office, lab, and unit certifications at the 6th Annual Sustainability Awards.  The 2016 LivingGreen Fair was once again a big success, with over 1,200 attendees and 70+ vendors in attendance.

acc___5The Health Sciences Instruction Research (HSIR) project (Health Sciences East 7 and 8 floors and Health Sciences West 7 and 8 floors) was submitted for LEED Gold (submitted but not yet approved).  This 11,000 sf research laboratory epitomizes accessible and sustainable design for university research settings. Design focused on productive lab space with a flair for color, natural light, and tree filled views. It is UCSF’s first renovation project to combine BIM and lean construction. UCSF Health focused on renovations of existing buildings to improve energy efficiency and water conservation. Two renovation projects at the Ambulatory Care Center were awarded LEED-CI Silver Renovation:  5th floor Heart and Vascular Clinic and 4th floor Hematology Clinic.