San Diego Museum of Man’s Energy Audit Team is an Innovative Model

Kelsey Ceccarelli Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Sustainability Program

The park-wide Balboa Park Green Team is a bi-monthly roundtable led by members of the Balboa Park Sustainability Program that creates a ripple effect of sustainability education that in turn leads to project ideas and completion. Many of the arts & culture organizations here in Balboa Park have their own internal Green Teams that draw knowledge from the park-wide Green Team and come up with unique and inventive ways to implement sustainability within their organization. Each team puts their own spin on the theme, whether it is by saving energy or water, reducing waste, or enhancing the culture around being green.

The San Diego Museum of Man is dedicated to sustainability in many tangible ways, one of which is their unique internal Green Team model that can potentially be applied to operations at other organizations. They have enhanced their Green Team by morphing it into The Energy Audit Team. This group is comprised of employees at the Museum who are passionate about sustainability and conserving resources. The Museum as a whole has a goal of reducing energy consumption by 5% and the Energy Audit Team is the vehicle in which that goal is being driven.

Eric Ortiz, Facilities Technician at the Museum of Man, is charging the Energy Audit Team with discovering new & innovative ways to save energy at the Museum. Eric recently led the Balboa Park Sustainability Program staff on a walkthrough of the museum so that we could give small suggestions to the Team and help them become a well-oiled machine. Many of the more immediately attainable improvements were completed during the Museum of Man’s LEED Gold certification in 2016 when 98% of the lighting was converted to LED, low flow water fixtures were added, and the grounds were remodeled using xeriscaping ideals to cut down on the need for irrigation. The Energy Audit Team is targeting the rest of the feasible short-term projects and working to tighten up all areas of the museum in the name of true sustainability. Some of the best practices they are employing are email calls to action to inspire staff, a rewards program for especially mindful employees, and unannounced visits by facilities staff to ensure lights and computer monitors are turned off in unoccupied rooms.

In an effort to monitor the progress toward the 5% energy reduction goal, Eric is using Home Area Network Devices on all of the electric meters to observe when and why energy peaks occur and potential ways to stop them and reduce peak demand. This is an emerging technology that SDG&E has helped with the navigation and understanding of. It allows staff to monitor and experiment with electrical usage in real time, informing operations decisions and even exhibit design. As Eric put it, “This is just one more step to being a sustainable museum.”

The Museum as a whole continues to prioritize the integration of sustainability into day-to-day operations and facilities management by constantly looking at new ideas for projects. One of these completed recently was the installation of a plumbed drinking water dispenser instead of purchasing 5-gallon water jugs and having them delivered. The San Diego Museum of Man is always looking forward and including sustainability in long-term planning. The Museum is a champion in the journey toward making sustainability more commonplace, and the success of their Energy Audit Team is one of the many ways they serve as a model for others in the Park and beyond.