Rubi Baricuatro is the manager of the Balboa Park Sustainability Program, a program of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership. Before joining the Cultural Partnership, she worked within the Fleet Science Center’s education department and also led the institution’s Green Team! Now, Rubi oversees initiatives to advance Balboa Park toward a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable future.
How did you become manager of the Sustainability Program at the Cultural Partnership?
Prior to the Cultural Partnership I was with the Fleet Science Center, where I worked for the education department for about two and a half years. About a year into my time at the Fleet our management formed a Green Team focus group, which I was asked to lead when I expressed my interest in getting involved. I learned about the Sustainability Program when I was trying to learn more about sustainability in Balboa Park, so I got involved and volunteered with the Sustainability Program’s Earth Fair information booth. With my education and background in environmental studies and sustainability, I became the Sustainability Program coordinator in August 2016, and I’ve been manager since August 2018.
For those who might not be familiar with the Sustainability Program, can you tell us a bit about your role?
As manager I oversee our program staff and work to improve sustainable practices and energy efficiency measures throughout the Park. While the program initially focused on energy-efficiency in the buildings to reduce emissions, it has since expanded to view sustainability holistically, developing through the LEED building certification process. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification takes a wider look at how sustainability practices take place within a building’s operations, so we work with our member institutions and partners like the San Diego Green Building Council to assess buildings in the Park and prepare them for certification. Going through the certification process also helps verify the success of sustainability initiatives that have been implemented.
Speaking of sustainability, April is Earth Month! Are there any projects, special events or milestones in Balboa Park that you’re looking forward to celebrating?
Something we’re focusing on this month is continuing to improve sustainable best practices in the Park and support a few of the institutions on their LEED recertification. An exciting new certification we’re pursuing called LEED for Communities is also giving us an opportunity to go beyond the buildings and take a glance at the cultural core of the Park. A lot of the different projects taking place throughout Balboa Park are done outside of the buildings on Park grounds, and so this certification is much more inclusive of the initiatives of organizations like the Balboa Park Conservancy, Friends of Balboa Park and the City of San Diego.
What have you enjoyed most about working in Balboa Park?
I’ve really enjoyed learning about the history of the Park through our work. I’ve met many amazing people with exciting stories to share. A really cool factor about working in sustainability in Balboa Park is assessing how these buildings operate and uncovering a lot of interesting history and information about the architectural, engineering and building design. From a travel perspective, there’s no other place that I know or can think of that’s quite comparable to Balboa Park. It’s very unique and special, and something I feel very fortunate to have in our city.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to visit local farmers’ markets, and I especially love going to the Hillcrest Farmers’ Market on Sundays for fresh produce – support local farmers! Every now and then I’ll go on hikes, and I like to go to Drag shows! Shout out to Mariam T, a hilarious and wonderful local drag queen, who also works at the Nat out of drag.
What is your favorite book, TV show, movie or musical artist/album/song?
I enjoy music across different genres, but I particularly enjoy alternative rock, punk, and oldies. Staying in the spirit of sustainability, one of the films that inspired my passion in sustainability was Soylent Green. It’s an older movie set in a futuristic dystopian world, but you watch it and you realize it’s eerily applicable to where we are today. It’s become my career mission to avoid having Soylent Green become reality.
What is your favorite spot in Balboa Park?
One of my favorite places to go to, especially on a rainy day in the Park, is the Inamori Pavilion in the Japanese Friendship Garden. With the cascading waterfall and the koi fish, it’s definitely one of my favorite places to relax and enjoy the Park.