Sustainability Champions Recognized at Seventh Annual Sustainability Awards

Sam Hawgood with the Sustainability Award winners
Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, honored UCSF faculty, students, and staff members for their efforts in supporting and advocating for sustainability measures during the 2017 Sustainability Awards. Photo by Marco Sanchez

UC San Francisco faculty, students, and staff members were recognized for their efforts in supporting and advocating for sustainability measures at the seventh annual Sustainability Awards in the Rock Hall Auditorium on June 20.

“We are here today to recognize our Sustainability Award winners, our outstanding faculty, staff, students and teams who exemplified PRIDE values around sustainability throughout the university,” said Cynthia Chiarappa, the vice president of UCSF Health Administration and co-chair the UCSF Advisory Committee on Sustainability.

“Words used to describe these extraordinary individuals included relentless, engaged, devotion, inspiring, diligent, successful, continually, innovative, and leader, to name just a few,” said Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, as he introduced the 2017 Sustainability Award winners.

Each award winner went above and beyond the duties of their position to integrate environmental sustainability into existing campus programs in education, research, operations, and public service. They also instilled a culture of sustainable practices amongst their peers and engaged the campus/medical center in an ongoing dialogue about reaching UCSF’s environmental sustainability goals.

Sustainability Award Winners

This year UCSF received nominations for the Sustainability Awards from across the UCSF community. The following groups and individuals were winners this year:

Matthew State Lab members receive their sustainability award from Sam Hawgod
The Matthew State Lab was recognized for its efforts in becoming first laboratory to ever achieve a Platinum level certification. Photo by Marco Sanchez

Team Category:  The Matthew State Lab in Rock Hall was recognized for its efforts in becoming first laboratory to ever achieve a Platinum level certification. Last year, the lab received a Gold-level certification and was inspired to improve their conservation efforts.

In the lab, pipette tip boxes, glassware, cardboard and Styrofoam are recycled and only compostable or washable items are used in the kitchen. The lab’s 20 computer screens are set to sleep after two minutes, which has the added benefit of increasing HIPAA security. Their single-shared printer defaults to double-sided printing and uses 100 percent recycled paper.

To reduce energy consumption, the lab’s -80C freezers have been set to -70C, reducing energy demand by one-third. Fume hoods, lights, and other equipment are powered down completely or unplugged rather than left in standby mode where possible. To educate new employees and visiting researchers, the lab shares its comprehensive checklist of resource conservation measures.


Katherine Gruenberg
Katherine Gruenberg, PharmD

Student Category: Katherine Gruenberg, PharmD, a pharmacy resident who was recently appointed an assistant professorship in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, was awarded for designing and leading a one-hour CME program open to all pharmacists and trainees about issues of drug selection, procurement, distribution, use and their relationship to UCSF’s environmental sustainability goals.

The course inspired several pharmacy students to focus their course proposals on sustainability policies. She also stepped in to mentor and assist two Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI) fellows in putting together a 10-week elective course called EarthHealth – Sustainability in Health Care, and presented at one of the sessions.

Gruenberg has engaged in the wider pharmacy sustainability communities – locally, nationally, and internationally. She has collaborated with environmental toxicologist Helen Smith to map the accreditation standards for pharmacy degrees to sustainability concepts and submitted an abstract for a session at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy annual meeting. Next month, Gruenberg will be presenting about teaching sustainability in pharmacy curricula at the Prato Pharmacy Education Symposium in Italy.


Seema Ghandi
Seema Gandhi, MD

Faculty Category: Seema Gandhi, MD, associate professor in Anesthesia, has led efforts to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impacts in the perioperative area. Gandhi, nominated by doctors Jacqueline Leung, MD, and Arun Prakash, MD, PhD, explored three areas of concern: operating room (OR) energy use, perioperative waste and anesthesia gas reduction.

With the ultimate goal of improving energy efficiency and decreasing carbon emissions, Gandhi engaged with other members of the medical center to optimize temperature control in the ORs and data mine electronic medical records. Gandhi most recently completed a patient transfer matt reprocessing project and led a team that showed that a projected $400,000 per year could be saved if the collection and reprocessing of these matts were conducted in an optimal manner. She has presented her data to the anesthesia department at Grand Rounds and in other forums and has inspired numerous residents and other faculty to participate in this project. Her team was awarded the “Great Save Award” in March 2017 for this work.

For the past three years, Gandhi has served as a mentor to CNI Fellows and has encouraged them to think of their role in decreasing carbon emissions to protect public health. Her role illustrates her devotion to helping UCSF attain its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025, while also inspiring others to do the same.


Lori Justice
Lori Justice

Staff Category: Lori Justice, UCSF Administrative Assistant III, has been relentless in monitoring waste disposal for the department and encouraging her peers to become mindful about waste. She constantly educates others to sort their waste and frequently reminds co-workers to minimize their environmental footprint. She coordinated with Recology, UCSF’s waste hauler, to train her department on waste reduction and sorting. When the office kitchen was remodeled last year, Justice ensured that much of the cabinet space was utilized for compost and recycling. Her efforts have made a noticeable and significant impact on waste reduction.

Liana Crosby
Liana Crosby, MFA

Liana Crosby, MFA, the School of Pharmacy Dean’s Executive Assistant, was also recognized for engaging her entire school in environmental sustainability. She consistently ensures that sustainability information, such as the UCOP Climate Lab videos and UCSF newsletters, are distributed and presented to all staff. She attended the Green Event Planner Training and applies sustainable food options and zero waste practices at department events. She shares her knowledge with the dean, vice deans, associate deans, and staff.

She diligently works to limit use of paper and plastic products and to increase the use of reusable mugs, plates, and utensils. She had the office printer default changed to double-sided printing and successfully worked to receive Living Green Gold Certification. Currently, she is working on additional measures to seek Platinum certification.

LivingGreen Certifications

The LivingGreen certification recognizes offices, laboratories, and clinics and/or units that are actively seeking to reduce energy, waste, water, toxics, encourage green procurement, and engaging others to do the same. The following offices, labs, units, and event planners were acknowledged for gaining certification:

LivingGreen Offices

Platinum Category: Facilities Services at Genentech Hall – Utilities Division; UCSF Industry Contracts Division

Gold Category: School of Pharmacy Dean’s Office; School of Dentistry Dean’s Office; Facilities Services at Laurel Heights; Campus Planning at 654 Minnesota; Real Estate, Planning, & Capital Programs at 654 Minnesota; Office of the Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy at Genentech Hall

Silver Category: Facilities Services at UC Hall – Utilities Division; Facilities Services at 654 Minnesota; Global Health Sciences at Mission Hall

Bronze Category: Pediatric Services at Mission Hall

LivingGreen Labs

Platinum Category: The Matthew State Lab

LivingGreen Clinics/Units

Gold Category: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; Obstetric Services and Gynecological Services Specialties

Silver Category: Mount Zion Ambulatory Care Unit

LivingGreen Event Planners

The newest category of certifications is the Green Event Planner, started this past winter focused on zero waste and sustainable food offerings in catering and department events.

Silver Category:  Emily Lefson - CLS Housing; Cindy Cheng – Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging; Colette Ono-Ko - CLS Housing

Carbon Neutrality Initiative and Global Food Initiative Fellows

Before awarding the Sustainability award winners, Chiarappa recognized this last year’s UC President’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI) and Global Food Initiative (GFI) Fellows:

2016-17 CNI Fellows: Last year, Hugo Aguilar and Yaser Khosal were awarded for their proposal to provide a 10-session seminar series entitled EarthHealth for pharmacy students. Daniel Ta and Brittany Zhang were awarded for their proposal to provide a 10-session seminar series on Sustainability in Dental Practice. Jason Lang was awarded for his work to reduce energy use in operating rooms.

2016-17 GFI Fellows: Rashon Lane, Daniel Kelly, and Matthew Spinelli received the Global food Initiative funding of $4,000 each for their projects focusing on three food insecurity areas: HIV-infected African American and Latina women, ebola-related infections in Sierra Leone, and HIV-infected adults in San Francisco.

2017-18 CNI Fellows: The returning team of Hugo Aguilar and Yaser Khosal; Carolyn Rennels and Gabriela Weigel; and Clifford Bielinski. Daniel Kelly, Tammy Nicastro, and Emily Tuthill were announced as the incoming GFI Fellows.

For more campus news and resources, visit Pulse of UCSF.