Powering Sustainability at San Diego Museum of Man

Sustainability ProgramBalboa Park Cultural Partnership, Sustainability Program

San Diego Museum of Man kicked off 2020 in a sustainable fashion by furthering their green initiatives. They are continuing towards accomplishing goals set out in their Sustainability Action Plan for 2020. Whether it is improving their building efficiency or sustainable practices, the San Diego Museum of Man believes in creating a healthy community and environment for its guests and its team.  


The Museum continues to boost its energy efficiency by utilizing LED lighting. The staff is upgrading the remaining fluorescent bulbs to LEDs in their basement and storage spaces. Earlier this year, the Museum completed a lighting install through SDG&E’s Business Energy Solutions Program (BES). The Museum worked with our Sustainability Program to initiate project implementation with  Matrix Energy Services. First, an audit was completed to determine the bulbs that should be replaced throughout the venue with new models provided by rebates. The hallways of the Museum have always been dark and switching to LEDs gives new light to these areas. Not only do the new 50 LED T8 lamps provide an estimated annual energy savings of 2,912 kWh, but they also came at no cost to the Museum! Mario Guerrero, Facilities Manager, said “They came in and replaced the 50 fluorescents at what would have been about $1,200 if we would have done it ourselves. It helped out a lot, so thank you. They paid for the labor, the new bulbs, and they even took the old bulbs with them [and recycled them]. It was like a dream. Everything was done for me.” Through the SDG&E BES program, an approved vendor provides a proposal of low-cost to no-cost recommendations. Check out SDG&E’s incentives and rebates to learn more. 


Mario Guerrero and Matrix Energy Services installing new LEDs in the basement.


One unique recycling effort that the Museum also participates in is e-waste. There are two designated bins dedicated to their electronic waste recycling efforts. Each bin is easily accessible with one located in Facilities Manager, Mario Guerrero’s office and another in the printer room. Recently, the team started to strip the e-waste before they recycle it – meaning they remove the screws, cables, and other parts to reuse within their facility. Another recent recycling effort that just began at the Museum is switching their glove provider to Kimberly-Clark. This program is called RightCycle, an innovative program that enables Kimberly-Clark customers to collect previously hard-to-recycle items, such as Kimberly-Clark Professional* nitrile gloves and single-use apparel, and have them turned into eco-responsible consumer goods. On top of switching to the new recycling program, they shared all of their old unused gloves with the surrounding organizations utilizing our Excess Capacity Program. Through the program, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership’s member organizations with excess materials or resources can easily distribute them to other Park organizations and help to divert waste.


Cultural Resources staff and volunteers working hard and using the Kimberly Clark gloves as part of the RightCycle Program!


“Sustainability is important to me because I believe the power to make the biggest changes in our environment is bigger than just everyday actions. It takes institutional reform to make an impact and I want to do my part for my institution by making the connections, asking the favors, and putting in the effort it takes to change systems bigger than myself.” Anissa Blancarte is a representative of the San Diego Museum of Man’s strong internal sustainability Green Team. They assist in the implementation of green practices and education efforts. During All Staff Meetings, their Green Team makes announcements to inform staff about their efforts and ways they can contribute. The Museum gives its staff an opportunity to voice their sustainable efforts, which has been helpful in their green success. For example, they had close to 70% participation in our Energy Efficiency Day 2019 Challenge! A helpful tool their team utilizes is in their shared break room. They posted on a wall a  “Sustainability Board” that is visible to all who use the space. They use the board to post information about opportunities to help with their projects or inform people about their current recycling practices. The Museum of Man’s efforts start within their own institution, then influence and inspire others across the Park to become more sustainable. Truly a “One Park – One Team” approach that has proven to be successful!

Anissa Blancarte, Green Team Representative presenting the Sustainability Board!


In 2016, our Sustainability Program with support from SDG&E and the San Diego Green Building Council assisted the San Diego Museum of Man in achieving LEED Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification program used worldwide. This program certifies the levels of sustainability in terms of design, construction, maintenance, and operations of high-performance green buildings. As one of 10 LEED certified buildings in Balboa Park, the Museum of Man was the first to hold the highest certification level at LEED Gold. The grand achievement of this 100-plus-year-old building was made possible through a number of initiatives including the conservation of an amazing 124,000 gallons of water per year through low flow restroom fixtures and aerators. This is the equivalent of 2.25 San Diegans’ water footprint! Another sustainable feature was its green purchasing practices. The Museum reduced its environmental footprint by acquiring 82% of ongoing consumables that meet sustainable purchasing requirements. An essential addition to their efforts was alternative transportation used by their staff during their commutes to and from work! However, efforts did not stop there. The San Diego Museum of Man continues to push forward green initiatives to create a healthy environment for our community.