2018 Balboa Park Sustainability Forum Recap

Kelsey Ceccarelli Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Sustainability Program

The annual Balboa Park Sustainability Program’s event returned on October 17, 2018 for the fifth year, under a new name, the Balboa Park Sustainability Forum. The Sustainability Forum was equal parts educational and celebratory. This event continues to grow and this year, 178 community members attended from 75 different organizations and businesses to hear from sustainability thought leaders and to celebrate the strides made by organizations in Balboa Park.

Opening Remarks

Balboa Park Sustainability Program Manager, Rubi Baricuatro, announced 2018 as the 10th anniversary of sustainability success in Balboa Park. She spotlighted partnerships that have contributed to the Sustainability Program’s success including: San Diego Gas & Electric for their continued support as founding partners of the program since 2008, City of San Diego for their partnership since the program’s inception, elected officials representing federal, state, and city districts, the member organizations of the Cultural Partnership, and the many partnerships with organizations made along the way. This year, multiple measures were taken to save resources. The event program was accessible online rather than printed, and through a special sponsorship from Siemens Industry, Inc., organic waste from the event was composted in partnership with the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, and remaining food was donated making this our first zero waste event! In addition, our continued partnership with the Climate Science Alliance allowed us to display art created by Climate Art Fellow, Audrey Carver, called “Faces of Change” that depicts community members who are affected by climate change. Eowyn Bates, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at the San Diego Natural History Museum, welcomed attendees to the venue and shared their steps to becoming a sustainable facility, which include their admirable efforts to make their building more energy efficient. Dr. Steven Snyder, Board President of the Cultural Partnership, then took to the stage, he stated the lasting importance of the Sustainability Program in Balboa Park over the years. He conveyed that we all have to work together to achieve our sustainability goals because no change will happen if just one person makes an effort.

We were honored to have Congresswoman Susan Davis present the Sustainability Program with a commendation for ten years of enhancing visitor enjoyment through sustainable business practices. She went on to say how important collaborations are to achieving shared goals. Opening remarks continued with Lisa Davidson, Director of Customer Programs at SDG&E. She spoke on the copious accomplishments of the program in partnership with SDG&E. These include implementing energy efficiency projects that have collectively saved the organizations in the Park over $1.8 million, savings that in turn, allow them to advance their mission and continue to serve the community. In addition, SDG&E has provided over $850,000 in incentives and rebates for completion of these projects.

Keynote and Panel

The panel theme: People, Planet, [Non]Profit, is our interpretation of the triple bottom line, which takes into account social equity (people), environmental best practices (planet), and economic value (profit). The business case for sustainability is clear. The rising workforce and consumers are looking to work for and support businesses that show a commitment to environmental responsibility, and profit as the bottom line is no longer the best business model. Keynote speaker, Dr. Jonathan Foley, Executive Director at Project Drawdown, explored the role of nonprofits in a changing climate and how that affects their business resiliency. He delved deeper into why organizations should make a point to adopt the triple bottom line principle. As the former Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Dr. Foley had personal connections and experience with benefits like free media publicity and attracting more donors, simply because his institution publicly stated their stance on climate change and sustainability. In addition, he conveyed that it is a necessary change we must make for future generations and the longevity of museums and cultural organizations. Cultural institutions are trusted entities and serve as role models for our community.

Panelists Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director at The Nonprofit & Philanthropic Institute at the University of San Diego; Josh Dean, Executive Director at the San Diego Green Building Council; and Erika Katayama, Director of Exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Man; made great statistical and observational points on the benefits to nonprofits in taking a stand in environmental responsibility, and how the benefits go beyond just doing good for the world. The panelists touched on topics like attracting donors and grants, employee satisfaction, and the responsibility of arts & culture nonprofits, especially museums, as pillars of the community.

Balboa Park Sustainability Awards

Assemblymember Todd Gloria kicked off the awards ceremony with the presentation of a certificate of recognition to the Sustainability Program for ten years of sustainability work in the Park. He went on to talk about how important sustainability initiatives are in a political climate such as the one we are in now. He finished off his remarks by commending the San Diego Museum of Man for the statewide recognition they received in August for their sustainability efforts through the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Sustainability awarded by the California Association of Museums and the California Natural Resources Agency.

The Balboa Park Sustainability Award Finalists were as follows:

  • Museum of Photographic Arts for their energy efficient HVAC upgrades that went beyond basic equipment replacement by looking for sustainability elements such as high energy efficiency and products made in the U.S. to reduce their environmental impact. Learn more in our blog.
  • San Diego Civic Youth Ballet for their sustainability themed Fairy Tale Village, their annual fundraising event. Not only will they continue to make this a sustainability-focused event, but they’ve also incorporated “sustainability” in their official organization’s value statement. Learn more in our blog.
  • San Diego Museum of Man for their project “Every Action Matters,” which started as the energy audit team, but has grown to a full-fledged organization wide holistic approach to sustainability in every department and at every staff level. Learn more in our blog.
  • San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory for their internal composting efforts started by two passionate employees and grew into an organization wide movement. Although they do not have the space to compost onsite, staff take food scraps and shredded paper from the office to compost at home. Learn more in our blog.

A special mention was given to the San Diego Zoo for their Zero Waste Bike to Work Day, which continues their commitment and dedication to sustainability.

Assemblymember Todd Gloria presented the first award to the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and Michael Field, Director of Experience Design at the San Diego Natural History Museum, presented the second award to the San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory.

The Forum concluded with closing remarks by Sustainability Manager, Rubi Baricuatro,  highlighting Councilmember Chris Ward’s recent environmental victory in banning polystyrene foam and restricting single-use plastic in the City of San Diego. Inspired by Councilmember Ward’s work and our program’s efforts to keep Balboa Park clean and green, attendees received reusable metal straws to use and share with a friend. Attendees were thanked for their continued support of sustainability efforts in the Balboa Park, for without community partnerships, we would not have the most sustainable urban park in the nation!

To view the photos of the event, visit our photo gallery.

To view video highlights of the event, click here.

To watch our 10 LEED video series, visit the Balboa Park YouTube channel.