The Port of San Diego's 2011 Green Business Challenge was featured in the May/June 2012 issue of Ports and Harbors Magazine, the official magazine of the International Association of Ports and Harbors!
“How do you get nearly 50 port tenants to increase their energy efficiency, reduce their air pollution, consume less water, contribute less physical waste and adopt more sustainable business practices? Make it a challenge incentivised with awards and bragging rights.
That’s exactly what happened in 2011 when the Port of San Diego threw down its Green Business Challenge, pitting port businesses against one another as they attempted to make their operations more eco-friendly over the course of a year. The challenge, which was the first of its kind, is an integrated energy efficiency and sustainability effort held in partnership with local utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).
This friendly challenge brought together 49 local businesses based in the San Diego Bay area, which greened their operations throughout 2011. In January 2012 an awards breakfast was held to honour participants in four categories: Achievement in Sustainability, Commitment to Sustainability, Excellence in Sustainability and the 2011 Chairman’s Award in Sustainability.
First of all, businesses evaluated their current practices against an energy scorecard, earning points for every green strategy the business already had in place. Based on the results of the scorecard, each business then set a goal for the duration of the competition. To help them achieve their goal, SDG&E and the port provided online resources, training opportunities, energy efficiency programs and other tools to help green their operations.
One tool available through SDG&E is its on-bill financing program, which makes it easy and affordable for businesses to finance the cost of qualifying energy-efficiency systems such as new LED lighting. With on-bill financing, the utility provides a 0% loan that tenants can repay on their utility bills with payments that are less than or equal to the value of the energy saved.
What did all of this effort add up to? Through increased energy efficiency, participating port tenants reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 843 tonnes, equivalent to removing 160 cars from the road or 105 homes from the grid for a year.
The Green Business Challenge proved so successful that it is being relaunched as the Port of San Diego’s Green Business Network, which businesses can join and obtain information on how to track their energy efficiency efforts. They will also be able to take advantage of SDG&E initiatives and professional development and training courses, which the port will help facilitate”