2017 Sustainability Partners’ Breakfast Recap

Rubi Baricuatro Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Sustainability Program

On its fourth year, the Balboa Park Sustainability Partners’ Breakfast and Sustainability Awards Ceremony keeps growing through partnerships with local sustainability organizations. The event brought together 149 attendees from 73 organizations including members, thought leaders and implementation specialists for a chance to connect, learn, and celebrate sustainability efforts in Balboa Park.

Welcome Remarks

Sustainability Director, Jessica Travis, introduced the theme of the event, Making the Commitment, which looks at how an organization’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility improves workplace culture, community perception and financial endurance. In following, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (BPCP) Board President and President and CEO of the Fleet Science Center, Dr. Steve Snyder, elaborated on BPCP Sustainability Program’s important role as sustainability ambassadors in the community. Scott Crider, Vice President, Customer Service at SDG&E, followed by highlighting accomplishments of the partnership between BPCP and SDG&E over the past decade, including saving Park institutions $1.7 million annually and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Park through SDG&E’s increased supply of renewable energy – the highest in the state at 43%! It was a great honor to have Councilmember Chris Ward, District 3, share his passion and support of sustainability in our region and Balboa Park. As a member of the Council’s Environment Committee, Councilmember Ward mentioned how the recent Balboa Park greenhouse gas inventory correlates with efforts to make the City and Balboa Park more accessible to alternative transportation through measures such as bike lanes, further helping reduce our carbon footprint.

Sustainability Awards Ceremony

Five organizations were in the running for the 2017 Balboa Park Sustainability Award. We are proud of the efforts of the award finalists, including the Fleet Science Center’s SustainABLE festival which highlighted three pillars of sustainability – healthy people, healthy communities and healthy environment, and the San Diego Museum of Man’s Living with Animals exhibit for its sustainability education content and sustainable production methods.

With each year, the awards become more and more competitive, as all our finalists submitted great projects. This year’s winners were:

  • Balboa Park Conservancy’s Tree Balboa Park
    • The project will restore the Park’s badly depleted tree canopy with drought tolerant trees, helping capture carbon emissions, reduce storm water runoff and erosion, provide shade and save water. Learn more about the project in our blog.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum’s Passive Climate Controls
    • TheNAT implemented simple, cost-effective, easy-to-maintain passive techniques to help control temperature, humidity, and light levels in a historic building. Read more about theNAT’s passive techniques in our blog.
  • San Diego Zoo Global Zero Waste Initiatives
    • The San Diego Zoo initiated waste diversion efforts starting in April of 2016 with food donations to local food-insure residents. With the success of their first zero waste event in September of 2016, the Zoo is rolling out a complete organization-wide food waste diversion program to sustain their current zero waste status. Learn more about the details of the project in our blog.

Key Note & Panel Discussion

Keynote speaker, Julianne Markow, Wherefore Consulting Principal and Chief Operating Officer at Voice of San Diego, shared her insights on helping local organizations make social and environmental commitments as part of corporate social responsibility. She gave powerful statistics that show the importance of making the sustainability commitment:

  • 81% of consumers believe that businesses should donate, advocate and change operations to align to social and environmental needs
  • 85% of employees are more likely to stay longer with an organization that shows a high level of social responsibility
  • On a global basis, investment in environmentally and socially responsible companies has grown exponentially in the last 20 years (7 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone)

She not only shared why it’s important, but how we can incorporate sustainability within or own organizations and garner momentum by:

  • Aligning sustainability efforts with current initiatives or organizational goals
  • Listening carefully to colleagues and helping them achieve their goals using sustainability best practices
  • Seeking allies from different departments in your organization and demonstrating group successes
  • Finding a sponsor that is senior member of your organization or a board member
  • Starting small, setting achievable goals, and having clearly identifiable wins
  • Being authentic. Don’t try to undertake efforts that don’t align with your organization and aren’t natural to your organization.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your success!

This year’s panel further explored the theme of Making the Commitment. This theme broadens upon past themes and opens the scope of influence to incorporate organizational sustainability commitments. Panel moderator, Dennis Larson, led panelists, Jason Anderson, President and CEO of Cleantech San Diego, Morgan Justice-Black, Community Relations Manager at SDG&E, and Jonathan Hanwit, CEO of thinkPARALLAX through a discussion of how organization’s sustainability commitments have had a positive impact on our local economy, community perspective and company culture and mission.

Jason shared that San Diego is a strong sustainability leader in the country with the most solar rooftop installation, as well as the largest amount of electric vehicles per capita than any other city. With over 2,000 clean technology and renewable companies in the San Diego region, they have helped employ 36,000 people (more than the entire country’s coal industry) and become a 6.8 billion dollar economic output industry. Qualcomm, for example, has changed their sustainability approach as well to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. They have added solar and self-generation to create a smart campus at their headquarters. It is also a great way for them to showcase their services in action to potential clients.

For SDG&E, community demand for clean energy has been a motivating factor in increasing renewables with a 100% renewable energy opt-in through their EcoChoice program, and access to electric vehicle charging stations through their Power Your Drive initiative. Leadership within the company has also encouraged a sustainability culture and the SDG&E Green Team has organized an Earth Day faire and water conservation faire for staff, encouraging employees to incorporate sustainability in their daily lives and empowering those that do to share their sustainability efforts.

Implementing sustainability as an individual at an organization can be challenging, Jonathan shared a story of a client company who incorporated sustainability through an individual employee’s effort. The employee at this company was a proponent of sustainability and gathered measurable metrics to operate sustainably. The system that the employee created actually was a major factor in the company striking a deal and selling their products in Europe. In order to get the best results, Jonathan recommends employees within an organization who want to propose sustainability efforts look into tying them in to the organization’s mission or strategic plan goals.

The panel concluded with Dennis leading the second half of an audience activity to empower and challenge guests to make a personal commitment to help their organization’s sustainability efforts. We hope the event inspired all to make or continue to make a sustainability commitment.

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

Click here for photo gallery

Click here for video content on the Balboa Park YouTube channel