Balboa Park Sustainability Program: Twelve Years of ‘Greening’ the Park

Balboa Park Sustainability Program: Twelve Years of ‘Greening’ the Park

In a city known for its scenic vistas and beautiful coastline, Balboa Park is undoubtedly one of San Diego’s most cherished and esteemed areas. The botanical gardens, trails, museums and other cultural buildings have attracted folks from far and wide since 1868, then known as "City Park."

Suffice it to say, the implementation of environmental best practices in cultural institutions and additional “greening” of the park is no small feat. And for the past 12 years, this task has been passionately orchestrated by the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership's (BPCP) Sustainability Program.

Recently, the program announced that they would begin a "drawing down" of operations. So, in honor of their hard work and partnership, we'd like to take the time to celebrate the program's goals, accomplishments and history.

Early Beginnings and Accomplishments

Founded in 2008, the BPCP Sustainability Program started as a collaborative effort between the City of San Diego's Environmental Services Department and SDG&E.

“When the program started, the purpose – and goals – were to inspire, educate and engage in sustainable practices to preserve and enhance Balboa Park's cultural essence and viability for it to continue for future generations,” said Rubi Baricuatro, Senior Manager of the Sustainability Program. "The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership is fortunate to have had a strong and successful partnership spanning over ten years with one of the founding partners of the Sustainability Program, SDG&E. I'm sure the commitment to sustainability will carry on for decades to come, and Balboa Park will continue to grow as an example of a resilient, equitable, and healthy community space."

One major project the program undertook was to get the nearly century-old buildings as close to efficiency as modern structures. After some intense work, the team successfully managed to get ten buildings in the park LEED certified. LEED certification is awarded as recognition of healthier, more productive places, with reduced stress on the environment through encouraging energy and resource-efficient buildings.

In partnership with the San Diego County Water Authority, the program also retrofitted bathrooms with low-flow toilets, aerators and other fixtures to conserve water in the park. That project salvaged more than 3 million gallons of water per year.

Ongoing Efforts

The Sustainability Program has been working on achieving a "LEED for Communities" certification for the cultural core of Balboa Park over the past year and hopes to hear news of accreditation this month. If achieved, this would make it the first urban park in the nation to receive this certification.

Member organizations will continue to utilize the Excess Capacity Program to share resources and divert items from the landfill and work closely with our company on energy saving, renewable energy and GHG reduction goals.

The next time you can visit the Museum of Man, SD Natural History Museum or the Fleet Science Center (to name a few), keep in mind how these institutions have benefitted from the BPCP Sustainability Program’s work: The preservation of antiquities, conservation of natural resources, improved visitor experience and upgrades to modern technology. Sustainable practices will ensure that these beloved establishments are a source of enjoyment for years to come.

From your partners, thank you for all you have done!