Despite the continued challenges of the pandemic, in 2020–21 UC Irvine Health made great strides toward embedding environmental sustainability in its health care operations. The health system launched a Greening the Operating Room (OR) Initiative and identified opportunities for reducing energy use, supply costs and waste generation.
The Department of Anesthesiology established the multidisciplinary Perioperative Conservation and Sustainability Committee and facilitated educational events connecting climate change and health. The department reduced the environmental impacts of surgery by eliminating the use of desflurane (an anesthetic gas with the highest global warming potential) and minimizing the use of nitrous oxide. The department reduced emissions from the use of desflurane from 327 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019 down to zero tons in fiscal year 2020–21.
Although COVID-19 created challenges for implementing waste diversion strategies, UC Irvine Health met its 50% diversion rate goal, developed an organic pre-consumer food-waste-to-animal-feed program and eliminated single-use plastics (e.g., straws, bags and cups) and all plastic foam in dining services. Dining Services also rolled out a plant-forward menu program that reduced greenhouse gas emissions from its food purchases. In fiscal year 2020–21, the health system spent $981,909 (or 23% of its total spend) on plant-based menu offerings and increased spending on sustainable food to over 30% of the overall total. The health system continues to implement water conservation initiatives, which have reduced water consumption 40% from the baseline, and is projected to maintain a water usage rate that achieves the 36% reduction goal in 2025. UC Irvine Health’s Energy Use Intensity has continued to drop for the past three years; however, it achieved only a 1.64% reduction, falling just short of the 2% annual target.
More and more, devastating fires, increasing power outages and unpredictable natural disasters are having impacts on the UC community, often with disproportionate impacts on marginalized groups. As part of a systemwide climate resilience initiative, UC Irvine Health embarked on a project that engaged internal and external stakeholders to come together and develop a collective vision for climate resiliency planning and address the needs of the most vulnerable during catastrophic events.
Energy Use Intensity
UC Irvine Health saw a decrease in its EUI in the calendar year 2020.
In fiscal year 2020–21, UC Irvine Health increased sustainable food options and further developed a plant-forward menu. Over 32% of its spend was on sustainable food and beverages. The health system continued to offer more vegetarian and vegan options, and plant-based menu offerings made up $981,909, or 23%, of its overall food and beverage spend.
UC Irvine Health continued to make strides in its efforts to use alternative transportation methods and support the use of electric vehicles in 2021.
of UCI Health employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods
EV charging stations at this location for 2020-2021
of light-duty vehicles acquired in 2021 were electric (zero-emission) or hybrid vehicles
In fiscal year 2020–21, UC Irvine Health experienced a decrease in growth-adjusted potable water use by about 40% compared to its baseline of 647 gallons per adjusted patient day. The reduction was primarily due to centralizing the chilled water system and implementing a water management program. While UC Irvine Health’s water usage rate of 385 gallons per adjusted patient day was a slight increase compared to last year, this increase can be attributed to the temporary 45-bed mobile field hospital built in response to COVID-19. UC Irvine Health continues to implement water conservation initiatives and is projected to maintain a water usage rate that achieves the 36% reduction goal in 2025. 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.
ZERO WASTE – GeneraTION
UC Irvine 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.
Progress on the following policy areas for this Health System is reported by the campus location: