Sustainability in Practice: UCSF Medical Center Fights Greenwashing Data

System has goal of having 20% of all purchases made from sustainable sources by 2020.

As part of the University of California system, the UCSF Medical Center is working to achieve the system’s goal of having 20% of all purchases made from sustainable sources by 2020. In order to meet that goal, Dan Henroid, director of nutrition and foodservices at the medical center, said he knew he wanted an accurate and verifiable way to determine where his products were coming from.

“We want to be verifiable so that a third party could come in and audit our records to say that this is truly what we’ve done,” Henroid says. “We did not want to ‘greenwash’ the data. We track the percentage of sustainable purchases manually from our back-end food production computer system and also through invoices. We know that we were at 8.5% [of purchases from local sources] two years ago when we first really started tracking. We know that we were at 12.5% in 2010. We are pretty confident that we are going to exceed 16% for 2011; we are still computing that data.

“We worked very hard to find a produce house to help us track our purchases,” he adds. “I know where my purchases are coming from. It’s on the invoice every day. We worked with our main produce distributor to create quarterly reports that give us the percentage of purchases within 100 miles and 250 miles of San Francisco and within the state of California. We also can know the percentage of domestic versus international produce throughout the year from the data. We just switched to cage-free pasteurized eggs. It’s going to cost us $27,000 a year to do that, but we found cost-saving offsets so net it’s not costing us any more. We’ve had the PG&E Food Service Technology Center come out here and do audits. They made recommendations about how to improve our energy and water efficiency.”  

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