One of San Diego Bay's most popular attractions – Seaport Village – is also helping the Port of San Diego in its mission to be an environmental steward.
Seaport Village, located at 849 W. Harbor Drive, is a 14-acre bayside shopping, dining and entertainment complex. It features more than 70 shops, casual eateries, and waterfront restaurants and is a participant in the port's Green Business Challenge.
The Green Business Challenge – the first of its kind on the West Coast – promotes business practices that reduce energy consumption, water use waste as well as to prevent pollution.
"I'm proud to say that Seaport Village has been on the 'green track' for a few years now," said Terry Hall, general manager of Seaport Village.
Seaport Village is a tenant and partner of the Port of San Diego. Sixteen of its' subtenants are among the 54 businesses participating in the Green Business Challenge.
"We have a full recycling program in place and we've installed moisture meters for our irrigation. This program gives us an opportunity to have all 70 of our tenants band together as environmental stewards," Hall said.
Couple Promotes Being Green
They began working at the shops in 1991. Five years later, the Olenicks were able to buy the businesses. Throughout their 20 years at Seaport Village – as workers, managers and owners – they've always been green, the Olenicks said.
"We've always been really focused on going green, even before it was popular," said Stephanie Olenick. "It just makes common sense. We travel around the world and globally, there are a lot less throw-away societies."
The Olenicks said one of the best benefits of participating in the Green Business Challenge is that they can learn from participants as well as share sustainable business practices.
"We've switched all our delivery processes and cut out warehouse distribution," Olenick said. "That has cut down on fuel costs by having everything delivered direct to stores."
As a result, they were able to get rid of their diesel delivery trucks and switched to a Toyota Prius as the corporate car for the management team. That means they swapped a 14-mile per gallon truck for a 45-mile per gallon car.
Ice Creamery Keeps it Green
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is striving to achieve positive "green" change in the way it does business.
"One of Ben and Jerry's corporate core values is environmental protection," said Ephraim Mallari, of Ben & Jerry's Seaport Village. "We switched out our lights to be energy efficient and we participate in the Seaport Village recycling program and use recycled materials."
Ben & Jerry's was the first ice cream company to use fair trade ertified ingredients, products and goods. Fair trade certified products come from farms where workers are justly treated and compensated and sustainable farming practices are encouraged.
Visit benjerry.com to learn more about what the company is doing on a corporate level to support the environment and workers rights.
Six Businesses, One Eco-Friendly Owner
Omar Farah has been in business on the bay for 20 years. He owns six Seaport Village business: Alamo Flags; Best of San Diego; Camera Plus; Candy Shack & Yogurt; Destination Travel and Sports Headquarters.
"I signed up for the Challenge, of course, to help the environment," Farah said. "But I also reap the benefits of running a more eco-friendly business. I did not hesitate to sign up, I am aware of the small steps we have to take in order to improve our energy efficiency."
Despite being extremely busy running six businesses, Farah said he sees benefits, like cost-savings, that make the Challenge worth the effort. His hope is that he might influence other local small businesses to do the same.
Small Kiosk Finds Way to go Green
No matter how small a business is, it can still have an impact on the environment.
So says Lindsay and Jarod Martin, owners of the California Original Sunglasses kiosk in Seaport Village.
"Being green creates a culture where it's encouraged and that promotes change," said Lindsay Martin.
The shop is located on the boardwalk in front of the Harley Davidson store.
One sustainable business practice is most noticeable at night.
"We went ahead and installed LED lighting for our stand at night. It allows for bigger and brighter lighting to attract attention," Martin said.
"Sunglasses are always in their own packaging, so we try to reuse Ziploc bags for sales to reduce the trash," she added.
In addition, the store participates in the Seaport Village recycling program, allowing the larger packaging to be recycled.
Cupcake Shop Saves Energy
Frosted Robin Cupcakes - a new cupcake shop within the village - is focusing on energy retrofits to reduce their environmental impact.
Even though they are a small business, Frosted Robin's managers said small steps can help save both money and energy. And for small businesses, every penny counts.
The shop recently worked with San Diego Gas & Electric to take advantage of the Direct Install Program. This is a free program for small businesses that helps businesses change out their lighting to become more energy efficient.
Daughter Inspires Family Business to go Green
In fact, even before signing up for the Challenge, Melissa Moore was searching for ways to lower the restaurants' electricity bills.
"My mother's energy bills are crazy," Moore said.
Between the two restaurants, she said there were 50 light bulbs. Moore said she had been looking for a good buy on replacement bulbs that would help save money.
"Through the SDG&E Direct Install Program, we were able to replace 36 lights," she said. "We also switched to recyclable napkins. And we have low-flow water fixtures in both businesses.
She also is looking to replace service items with more eco-friendly options, such as take-out Styrofoam cups.
"It's all about the earth, we need to conserve," she said.
Margarita's Kitchen & Cantina, San Diego Burger Company
It's not on the menu but sustainability is definitely being served up at two more of Seaport Village's eateries.
Since joining the Green Business Challenge, he's worked with SDG&E on their Direct Install Program, allowing him to replace and retrofit his eateries with energy-efficient lighting and appliances at no cost.
"After our retrofit, the lighting in the kitchen was brighter, making it easier for my employees to work," Camacho said. "It also made our space cooler."
He also did simple things. Instead of leaving the fax machine and computer on 24/7, he shuts them down at night. He also is using less disposable serving products in his eateries.
"These little things add up and I have been able to buy less and see a substantial savings in my electric bill," he said. "We are trying to do our part step-by-step. And all of the employees have embraced the Challenge and have been pro-active in working to make the business more efficient."
Silver Crossing Goes Green
Silver Crossing specializes in inspirational gifts and crosses. Owner Cindy McAdams is hoping to inspire her customers to think green.
Her parents owned their own retail shop in 1975, first in Old Town, then in Seaport Village. McAdams worked with her parents beginning in 1984 and started Silver Crossing in December of 2000.
She said that while being eco-friendly is "hip," it has always been part of her business practice.
"I see some jewelry stores using lots of fancy packaging that eventually ends up in a landfill," McAdams said. "My customers understand that it is the jewelry and crosses they enjoy for years to come, not a fancy box."
Added McAdams: "We encourage customers to wear their jewelry out of the store to save the box or bag.
I also salvage broken merchandise from gifts and jewelry for altered, mosaic art projects."
McAdams also installed LED lights resulting in an energy bill that is less than half of what it used to be.
It's everyone working as a team that is pivotal to making the Green Business Challenge a success across lands administered by the Port of San Diego.
"When we band together like this, we can make a difference," said Hall of Seaport Village. "We are proud to say Seaport Village is being more energy efficient and protecting our environment."
As an environmental steward of San Diego Bay, the port protects San Diego Bay and the surrounding land. It has established a Green Port program to minimize its environmental footprint, and established an environmental fund, which has helped fund more than 60 projects around port tidelands.
The Port of San Diego was created by state legislature in 1962 and is responsible for $1.7 billion in public improvements in its five member cities: Imperial Beach, San Diego, Coronado, Chula Vista and National City.
The Port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 17 public parks, the Harbor Police Department and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.