2016 Sustainability Partners’ Breakfast and Awards Ceremony Recap

Rubi BaricuatroBalboa Park Cultural Partnership, Sustainability Program

On October 17th, the Balboa Park Sustainability Program hosted its 3rd annual Partners’ Breakfast and Sustainability Awards Ceremony. The event brought together more than 100 attendees from 53 organizations including members, thought leaders and implementation specialists for a chance to connect, learn and celebrate sustainability efforts in Balboa Park.   

Please follow these links for photo and video content of the event:

Click here for Photo Gallery

Click here for video content on BPCP’s Online Learning Portal

Welcome Remarks

Sustainability Director, Jessica Travis, introduced the theme of the event, which was an exploration of the role of cultural organizations in the sustainable transformation of communities. Balboa Park Cultural Partnership Executive Director, Peter Comiskey, then spoke about the many organizations working together to make Balboa Park the gem that it is and how the Park, as a cultural center, is well positioned to address the important community topic of sustainability. Scott Crider, Vice President, Customer Service at SDG&E, followed by highlighting accomplishments of the partnership between BPCP and SDG&EⓇ, including saving Park institutions $1.6 million annually and the opening of the Sustainability Studio pilot program. In following, Councilmember Todd Gloria (now 78th District Assemblymember) mentioned the partnership with The Good Traveler, which offers Park visitors the opportunity to offset their travel carbon emissions, and is expected to offset 40 metric tons of carbon dioxide as well as 225,000 gallons of water.

The Balboa Park Green Team surprised Mr. Gloria by presenting him with a Sustainability Champion award for his role in starting the Balboa Park Sustainability Program eight years ago and for his continual support since.

Sustainability Awards Ceremony

Five organizations were in the running for the 2016 Balboa Park Sustainability Award. Finalists projects and programs included a whole-building efficiency upgrade by the Balboa Park Conservancy, a food waste diversion program at the San Diego Zoo, and an LED lighting upgrade at The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

This year’s winners were the Japanese Friendship Garden for their on-site composting project and the San Diego Hall of Champions for their comprehensive green building project. Through the composting program, the Japanese Friendship Garden composts its green waste and then uses that resource to enrich the dense clay soil native to Balboa Park, also helping to reduce watering needs. The incorporation of education into this project shows that sustainability is not just a business decision – they’re making meaningful behavior changes for staff and visitors alike. San Diego Hall of Champions comprehensive green building project consisted of a water-wise restroom retrofit and whole building energy efficiency retrofit – including LED lighting, HVAC upgrades, demand response and the installation of 30 programmable thermostats – all while concurrently earning LEED Silver certification. Electricity savings is equal to nearly five homes for one year.

Panel Discussion

In a fresh take on the standard keynote speaker and panel discussion formats, the two were combined this year. Keynote speaker and sustainable museums expert Sarah Sutton spoke about the role of cultural organizations in sustainability in three distinct segments. Each segment was followed by panel discussion moderated by Dennis Larson with Nexus Planning & Research. In addition to Ms. Sutton, the panelists were Jack Clark with the Energy & Sustainability Division at the City of San Diego, Paulina Lis with San Diego Green Building Council, and Adam Ringler with San Diego Zoo Global.

Ms. Sutton gave insight of the incorporation of sustainability at cultural organizations as a fairly recent adaptation to taking on public roles in community discussion on important social and environmental issues. She referenced a quote by Stephen Weil, saying “Museums must move from being ‘about something to for someone.’”

Cultural organizations cater to the majority of the population living in urban centers, so spearheading important topics such as sustainability can greatly impact our community’s understanding and active role.

“[Cultural organizations are] where the change needs to happen.”

                                                                                            –   Sarah Sutton

Highlights of the panel discussion include Balboa Park’s opportunity in being a leader in community discourse about sustainability, and the implementation of education to promote local action in our community, which in turn affects global conservation and sustainability efforts. Ms. Lis highlighted an important trend in systematically changing our organizations to create broader and deeper impacts in our communities.

“We want to reach all areas of our community.. and Balboa Park offers us an opportunity to be inclusive and comprehensive for all people found within the City of San Diego.”

                                                                                       –   Jack Clark

We hope the event inspired and challenged Balboa Park institutions to think about their roles in the community, to identify new opportunities to collaborate, and discuss how to be change agents for sustainability in Balboa Park, in San Diego, in the region, and even farther abroad.

We hope to see you in 2017!