A Message from Mike Boyd
Sustainability — Part of everyone’s job description
UC Davis Health System is a large and diverse community with people of varied backgrounds, beliefs and life experiences. We each contribute to our core mission in different ways — caring for patients, educating students, discovering new knowledge about health and disease, developing and maintaining complex information systems, keeping the environment clean, collecting payments for services rendered, and ensuring that basic needs for plumbing, electricity, heating, and cooling are met … and the list goes on.
Required skill sets vary widely and our job descriptions reflect these differences. However, there is one phrase that should be in each of our job descriptions: “helping create a more vibrant and sustainable organization.” Faculty, students and staff alike have an important role to play in this effort.
What does this mean? According to Wikipedia, “The word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sus, up). Dictionaries provide more than 10 meanings for “sustain,” the main ones being to “maintain," "support," or "endure.” For those of us who work and/or study at UC Davis, it means that each of us should strive to make choices that will help reduce our collective and individual effect on the environment. Why should this be important to all of us?
- It is better for the environment and the world in which we live.
- Sustainability closely aligns with the UC Davis Health System’s vision to “create a healthier world.”
- Sustainability efforts can often help reduce operating costs and thereby free up resources to meet other critical needs.
- Sustainable practices are consistent with the vision, values and policies of the UC Davis and the University of California as a whole.
The health system’s 2011-2016 Strategic Plan recommends that we “use evidence-based approaches to evaluate and reduce our impact on the environment and reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy.” The scope of our sustainability efforts is extraordinarily broad, touching on green building design, energy efficiency and energy-demand reduction, sustainable transportation practices, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, purchasing practices, water conservation, and sustainable food service.
Several work groups have been established to develop and implement initiatives to foster sustainability. Food and Nutrition Services now procures approximately 40 percent of its food from sustainable sources and it is looking at operational strategies to reduce energy consumption and water use.
A “Lean and Green” team in the Emergency Department promotes sustainable operations and a Linen Task Force is looking at a variety of products that can reduce our carbon footprint. Purchasing and others are also developing mechanisms to promote reuse and to help expedite efforts to donate surplus equipment, supplies and other materials to qualified organizations and relief efforts abroad.
Another example of the Strategic Plan in action is the health system’s Energy Efficiency Work Group. This group has initially focused on implementing strategies and tactics to:
- Reduce the electrical demand and improve efficiency
- Optimize heating and cooling system performance
- Evaluate and implement other cost-effective strategies that can reduce our carbon footprint
In support these three focus areas, several initiatives are under way:
- New lighting technology is now being used to reduce energy consumption in parking lots and stairwells.
- Pilot projects soon will be under way to evaluate more efficient lighting in the hospital and Ellison Building.
- Meters are being installed to help us monitor and optimize system performance of buildings.
- We are looking at new ways to reduce energy consumption in portions of the hospital during off hours and are exploring other ways we can optimize the performance of the Central Plant.
Even small progress in these areas can make a big difference. Each year, we spend more than $15 million on utility costs alone!
For more details on these and other sustainability initiatives, check out the UC Davis Health System Sustainability website at http://ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/sustainability.
Many of you are actively engaged in these work groups and your contributions are already helping make us become a more sustainable organization. Keep up the good work! Others may want to help, but may not be sure how you can contribute. There are many small but important ways that each of you can be a part of our sustainability effort:
- Recycle, reuse and reduce — All of us can help recycle, reuse and reduce waste. Get to know which containers are for different waste types and help others learn what to do with their waste.
- Lights — Turn off the lights at the end of the day and in conference rooms when not in use if they are not equipped with automatic censors.
- Computers — Turn your monitor and computers off or place them in sleep mode when not in use.
- Printing — Learn how to set up duplex (two-sided) printing and use black-and-white mode whenever feasible.
- Alternate means of transportation — To the extent feasible, explore opportunities to carpool and/or use other environmentally friendly means to commute.
- Purchasing — Choose products that are environmentally friendly whenever feasible.
- Green Advocate – Become a sustainability champion in your department by becoming a Green Advocate.
- Sharing ideas and being open to change — Look for opportunities to foster sustainability and discuss them with your supervisor. As we embrace sustainable practices, we will undoubtedly be asked to change how we do our work. We all need to be open to changes that help create a more sustainable environment.
Questions and ideas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We still have a long way to go on the journey to sustainability but we’ve made enormous progress during the past two years. As is often the case, our progress has been a team effort, but two individuals have made a huge difference. John Danby and Leslie Moore have teamed with many of you to help move us in the right direction. Thank you, John and Leslie!
As we look ahead at the many challenges that we’ll face in the months and years ahead, let’s recognize that each of us has a shared responsibility to help the health system become a more sustainable organization. It’s good for us and for the world that we live in.
Facility Services Division