In 2021, UC Davis Health achieved multiple distinctions for sustainability. The health system was honored with an Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth, was recognized as a Best Employer for Diversity and received a designation as one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters.

Additional recognitions include Executive Chef Santana Diaz being named to lead the prestigious Tower Bridge Dinner, a fundraiser benefiting Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival. Nurse Manager Barbara Gumnor received a UC Davis Sustainability Champion Award for her efforts to reduce red bag waste. Her leadership, in addition to the efforts of clinicians and staff, led to UC Davis Health reducing its red bag waste during fiscal year 2020–21 by 78,000 pounds. The 30% reduction far exceeded the goal of a 6% reduction.

Additional highlights include becoming one of the first health care organizations, and first UC Health location, to sign onto the Race to Zero Commitment. Second Breath, a student-led medical supply rerouting program, diverted more than 700 pounds of waste from the landfill. COVID-19 vaccines were distributed to several underserved areas in the Sacramento area. And a partnership was formed to address food insecurity in local communities hard hit by the pandemic.

The impacts of COVID-19 included a reduction in carpooling and use of transit, and an increase in waste generation. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, UC Davis Health did succeed in implementing energy efficiency and water use reduction projects, sourcing local and sustainable food and increasing engagement through development of a Sustainability Strategic Plan.


Air pollution from cars

Air Quality Linked to Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s

Researchers have found a link between traffic-related air pollution and an increased risk for age-related dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.


Line graph depicting energy use intensity (EUI) between 2016 and 2020, split into two categories: EUI Target and EUI Actual. EUI Actual has consistently remained below the EUI target goal.

EUI (kBtu/Sqft)

UC Davis Health saw a decrease in its EUI in the calendar year 2020.


Percent of total spend on food and beverages that was spent on sustainable food and beverage in 2020 and 2021 with a 2030 goal of 30%.


UC Davis Health saw a significant decrease of its overall total sustainability percentages due to new updates in the Sustainable Practices Policy. The total purchase of sustainable foods was $1,699,455.97, or 28% of overall food and beverage spend (approximately $230,000 was subtracted from the sustainable food number due to changes in the definition of sustainable food).


The health system’s single-occupancy-vehicle rate increased by 5% in fiscal year 2020–21, likely because staff felt more comfortable driving alone during the pandemic. UC Davis Health saw a drastic reduction in the number of transit riders, carpool members and existing vanpools.

Riding a bike icon

of UCD Health students and employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Electric vehicle charging station icon

EV charging stations at this location for 2020-2021

Electric vehicle with charger icon

of light-duty vehicles acquired in 2021 were electric (zero-emission) or hybrid vehicles


In 2020 167 million gallons of portable water used. 2021 165 million gallons of portable water used

In fiscal year 2020–21, UC Davis Health experienced a decrease in growth-adjusted potable water use of about 39% compared to its baseline of 724 gallons per adjusted patient day. This reduction equates to filling 145 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The reductions were due to two primary factors: elimination of single-pass cooling for some MedVac (medical evacuation) and MRI equipment as well as COVID-19 related reductions. This year’s report illustrates the difference in water consumption between fiscal year 2019–20 and fiscal year 2020–21 instead of measuring progress toward the 2025 goal.


Bar graph depicting total waste generated by category with a 2025 goal of 25% and a 2030 goal of 20%.


UC Davis Health had about a 6% increase in overall waste generation, with an 8% increase in solid waste due to increased use of personal protective equipment in response to COVID-19. However, UC Davis Health reduced its red bag waste by an average of almost 15,000 pounds per month from fiscal year 2019–20. UC Davis Health has continued to reduce red bags since fiscal year 2018, now averaging 78,000 pounds per month, down from 112,000 pounds per month, saving close to $100,000 annually in regulated medical waste disposal costs.


UC Davis Health was the proud recipient of a Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Award in 2021.

A full list of awards is featured on the UC Office of the President’s website.

Combined Data

Progress on the following policy areas for this Health System is reported by the campus location: