UCSF Joins Genentech, Google as Founding Partners to Foster Green Building as Public Health Benefit

Interior build-out continues at UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, which is set to open in February 2015.  Trees are being planted as part of the 60,000 square feet of rooftop gardens. Another 100,000 square feet of landscaping throughout the hospital grounds will make the medical center one of the most green urban hospitals in the U.S. Learn more here. http://missionbayhospitals.ucsf.edu/#sthash.moIuamhR.dpuf

UC San Francisco has joined as a founding partner with Adobe, CalPERS, Genentech, Google, Kaiser Permanente, salesforce.com and 20 other corporations and institutions in a fast-growing movement to elevate green building as a public health benefit and accelerate the development of transparency standards in building materials.

The U.S. Green Building Council-Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC) officially launched the Building Health Initiative on Tuesday at its annual Super Heroes Awards Gala. Featuring a diverse array of actions, the initiative will foster sharing of best practices and collaboration among a unique coalition of commercial building owners and tenants; architects, engineers and builders; building product manufacturers; legal professionals; labor and health care professionals and institutions. 

“This is the first time major corporations and institutions from multiple sectors have come together to publicly commit to improving human health through green building,” said Dan Geiger, executive director of USGBC-NCC. “Each partner has pledged to implement new organizational actions that have direct effects and generate awareness of how the built environment affects our well-being. This is a tremendous stimulus for the movement for healthy communities for all.”

UCSF has a robust sustainability program covering sustainability activities across the entire campus and medical center. Formal and grassroot efforts are happening in many areas across the University. Earlier this month, UCSF Medical Center was 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. 

“UCSF is excited to explore partnerships with the builders, building owners, architects and health care within the US GBC’s 'Building Health into Everything We Do” initiative," said Gail Lee, sustainability manager at UCSF.  We see this partnership as an opportunity for UCSF to use its research expertise to help make the connection between sustainability, the built environment and health more explicit.  

Growing Recognition on Health Impacts of Built Environment

Initiative advisory board member Elizabeth Baca, MD, MPA, a physician engaged in policy to improve the built environment, said, “there is a growing recognition in medicine that the built environment has significant health impacts. Physicians want to understand the underlying causes of their patients' conditions. That's why we ask, ‘Where do you work, live and play?’ It is imperative that the medical profession and building industries learn from one another about the health impacts of the built environment.”

As part of phase one of the initiative, Adobe, Genentech, Google and salesforce.com have pledged to develop procurement practices and processes that consider materials transparency and emerging standards such as Health Product Declarations (HPDs). In addition, Adobe will study its LEED certified workplaces to determine if they measurably contribute to more collaborative, creative, innovative and healthy employees. Other partner pledges include creating resources for affordable housing, community outreach, researching the relationship between climate change and health, educating clients and peers about health impacts of the built environment and developing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

Phase two of the initiative will be a series of educational programs and events held over the next two years, including best practice sharing and inter-disciplinary programs developed with the founding partners.

“We are excited to be a partner in this pioneering effort to improve the health of our global communities,” said Anne Stausboll, chief executive officer of CalPERS. “Acting in concert with like-minded organizations to push for the growth of communities and 

buildings that improve the health of those areas fits in with our own work to ensure the health of our members and their families.”

“Genentech is gratified and excited to be part of USGBC’s Building Health Initiative,” said Carla Boragno, vice president of site services, Genentech. “As an organization committed to improve human health, we also want to promote the development of environments that contribute to the health and wellness of our employees and communities where we work.”

Source: Tami Kelly, Brazer Communications for USGBC-NCC