The awards ceremony marks the end of the first year of the Green Business Challenge, a joint project between the Port District and San Diego Gas & Electric. The voluntary program - the first of its kind on the West Coast - is designed to promote business practices that reduce energy consumption, water use, waste and prevent pollution.
By incorporating "green" practices into their business operations, many of the tenants cut utility costs, lowered water bills, reduced waste and saved money.
Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Lou Smith praised the tenants for participating in the challenge and their commitment to the environment.
"The results are impressive," Smith said. "Each of the 49 businesses reduced their environmental impact. Together, they implemented 377 new green strategies during the year."
The Port District and SDG&E are extending the program into a second year, from a competitive program to a resource-sharing effort renamed the Green Business Network. More tenants will be invited to join the program, free energy-saving workshops and other resources will continue to be offered and network sustainability efforts will continue to be featured through Port District press releases, videos and social media.
At the awards ceremony, Smith, Commissioner Scott Peters, who served as Board Chairman last year, and Commissioner Lee Burdick, will present awards in four categories: the Chairman's Award in Sustainability, which is the top-performing category; followed by the Excellence Award in Sustainability; Commitment to Sustainability Award; and Achievement in Sustainability.
The 49 participating businesses range from large industrial and maritime tenants, hotels, restaurants and small businesses. To help tenants reduce their environmental impact, the Green Business Challenge recommended 50 strategies in six categories – energy, water, waste, air, sustainable business practices and sustainable development.
Energy achievements included:
- Eighty percent of the participating businesses increased efficiency of heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
- Seventy-one percent reduced copier/printer power use.
- Forty-one percent implemented energy upgrades such as installing more efficient air compressors and salt water pumps, installing light-emitting diode or photovoltaic exit signs and installing solar-powered dock signage.
- Seven Seaport Village tenants made improvements that collectively cut greenhouse gas emissions by 843 metric tons - the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 160 passenger vehicles and 93,000 gallons of gasoline consumed annually.
The Port held a series of workshops for tenants to learn about sustainable practices and SDG&E conducted energy audits that helped tenants incorporate green elements into their businesses.
Many businesses replaced incandescent bulbs with energy efficient lights; installed timed lighting sensors and water-conserving devices such as low-flow toilets and urinals; donated old computers, printers and copiers for recycling; eliminated confirmation sheets for faxes; used drought-tolerant landscaping and regularly held meetings by teleconference.
The company implemented nearly two dozen of the recommended strategies, including developing a green purchasing policy, making refillable water bottles and travel mugs available to all employees, using energy-efficient vending machines, using hybrid Mazda vehicles as company vehicles and when possible, ordering organic foods for meetings.
The most improved small business is the Bay Club Hotel and Marina with 151 slips located on Shelter Island. The marina implemented more than a dozen green strategies, including the use of solar-powered dock signage, catering only organic foods and encouraging its dockmasters to join the Green Business Challenge.
Other businesses recognized for improvement included:
- Manchester Grand Hyatt: uses a water recycling program for its laundry department and will be purchasing a composting unit for recycling.
- Solar Turbines: uses a sorting process to capture recyclables from the trash and reuses all industrial and some rainwater.
- Sun Harbor Marina: purchases renewable energy and is a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) marina.
- Ben and Jerry's: reducing waste by 25 percent and using unbleached napkins from recycled material.
- Nielson Beaumont Marine, Inc.: saves engine oil for recycling; cleans and recycles water used during boat cleaning.
- Pacific Tugboat Service: developed a storm water management plan and reduced after-hours lighting.
- California Original Sunglasses: uses LED lighting and installed low-flow water fixtures.
"Being a waterfront business and a Port of San Diego tenant, we're very conscientious of our carbon footprint," said Jim Behun, General Manager and Dockmaster for Sunroad Resort Marina on Harbor Island. "The Green Business Challenge has provided us with training from experts on how to expand our green efforts."
To view a list of the participating tenants, please visit: GreenPortChallenge.org.
The Port of San Diego was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested $1.7 billion in public improvements in its five member cities – Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.
The Port District 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.