San Diego Museum of Man: Every Action Matters

Kelsey Ceccarelli Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Sustainability Program

2018 Balboa Park Sustainability Award Finalist

As a 2018 Balboa Park Sustainability Award finalist we’ve added the following information on the growth of the San Diego Museum of Man’s holistic Every Action Matters efforts, which were initiated by the Energy Audit Team in the original blog post.

The Museum of Man’s Energy Audit Team has quickly grown into a program called Every Action Matters. Through the ideas, actions and inspiration of the Every Action Matters program, staff is able to make continuous improvements. The Museum of Man aims to be the leading example in sustainability through education and involvement. From their CEO to their volunteers, they’re having the conservation conversation. Reduce, reuse, recycle is a mantra you will see throughout the LEED Gold certified organization. The Every Action Matters project began by focusing first on energy consumption but has slowly incorporated waste and water reduction and recycling, xeriscaping, green procurement from vendors, providing reusable dishes, and most recently discussions around collection of HVAC condensate to assist in watering. Already, savings from energy reduction measures are estimated at approximately $20,000 annually. This has the added benefit of allowing staff to  use these savings towards educational programs, workplace improvements, and employee recognition. Through consultation with the Balboa Park Sustainability Program, the Museum of Man has stayed current on emerging technologies, new programs, and ideas. The museum is looking forward to the prospect of solar installation, partnering with SDG&E on LED lighting upgrades, the City of San Diego regarding HVAC optimization, and other park organizations to share ideas, divert waste, and participate in a robust recycling program. The Museum of Man recognizes that climate change and an ever increasing population cannot be ignored, and every action they take is meant to reduce their impact on our environment.

“As we grow our staff, we must look for ways to reduce the impact on the Park and the city. As community educators, we believe that every action we take helps motivate others to do more and demonstrates our commitment to the environment. When it comes to making a better world for the next generation, we truly believe every action matters!” – Jody Forrest, Director of Operations

In July, Every Action Matters received recognition from the California Association of Museums by being awarded the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Sustainability.

Original Blog

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 unique 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.

The facilities staff within the museum is charging the Energy Audit Team with discovering new & innovative ways to save energy at the Museum. Eric Ortiz, Facilities Technician, recently led the Balboa Park Sustainability Program staff on a walk-through 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.