UCSF has a collection of dedicated scientists, clinicians, students and staff who share a common drive to make the world a better place by advancing health and the human condition. UCSF is also San Francisco’s second-largest employer — attracting talented faculty and staff who mirror the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area. In this REV guest blog, Zachary Schoenrock, a UCSF Climate Corps Fellow and REV Sustainability Circle participant, shares a Sustainability Success Story about employee engagement in one of UCSF’s research labs.  

Zachary Schoenrock

Zachary Schoenrock

Throughout our laboratory facilities at UCSF, fume hoods are used to vent harmful gases to keep our scientists, students, and staff safe. These aren’t unlike the ventilation hood over your gas stove at home, just much fancier.

These fume hoods use varying amounts of energy depending on whether they are open or closed. When the hoods are open, they draw in a lot of air to create ventilation, and they require a lot of electricity to do so. When they are closed, they use far less energy.

We realized that our staff were leaving the hoods open more than they actually needed to be, and that we had an opportunity to save money and energy if we could motivate our staff to be more proactive about closing them when they weren’t in use.

GROW-PGE-SUPDSF2016-1162-HRSo we created the “Adopt a Hood” program. It’s really very simple. For this project, we enlisted 25 fume hoods located in two research laboratory buildings. We invited each of our staff to put their name tag on one of the station hoods. By doing so, they were stating a commitment to take ownership for that hood, making sure it was being used responsibly. This simple act also gained them recognition as a green champion while setting an example for the rest of the lab.  One hundred people decided to participate!

We figured out how to monitor the hoods for kilowatt hours every 15 minutes, and were able to generate daily and weekly averages to determine the energy use of each hood. From that data, we were able to calculate our actual savings and discovered that we saved $550 per year per hood as a result of the program. With 25 hoods, that’s $13,750 annually!

Until we participated in the REV Sustainability Circle, we hadn’t considered conveying messages to building occupants to reduce energy, waste, and water consumption. Now we are focused on continuing to build our green team, together with a cross-section of building managers and lab researchers. We recognize that having ongoing discussions about what both groups can do helps build buy-in and will keep us moving forward. I’ve really enjoyed working on our Sustainability Action Plan and seeing our green team aligning and growing over time.

REV has worked with several biotech companies to help them realize the cost and resource saving benefits of embedding sustainability into their organizational culture. Illumina, another REV Sustainability Circle participant, received an SDG&E Energy Champion Award after completing the Circle. Check out their Sustainability Success story.