Sustainability & Climate Action Timeline
Our outdoor environments, from our beaches and wetlands to our mountains and deserts, play a key role in living well in San Diego County. Keeping these spaces accessible and thriving requires input and action from individuals, organizations, and government agencies throughout the region. Energy, water, and habitat conservation; pollution prevention; waste reduction and recycling; emissions reductions; and changes to the built environment and transportation all contribute to the long-term sustainability and enjoyment of these community spaces and address our changing climate. A diverse network of partners, including community-based organizations and resident leaders are needed to focus on specific initiatives to address these factors and advance climate resilience and adaptation solutions.
Several collaboratives have been established over the past decade to bring together community leaders striving to make an impact on the sustainability of our region.
In 2010, all 19 local governments, government agencies like the Port of San Diego and SANDAG, business groups like the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and community organizations like Circulate San Diego formed Climate Education Partners to educate decision-makers about climate science. They developed the 2050 is Calling Report which highlights the challenges around a changing climate and its effects in the San Diego region to help regional leaders make informed, data-driven decisions. Unless our priorities shift toward reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases and managing the risk of climate change, these impacts are projected to continue to worsen for our children and their children after the year 2050.
In 2011, partners from this group created the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative to take action to address the factors contributing to climate change. From this group further stemmed the San Diego Regional Energy Partnership to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use from electricity and natural gas which create greenhouse gas emissions that affect the air quality throughout the region.
Over the past decade, regional decision makers have worked with scientists to become educated about climate change and creating a sustainable region. Many government agencies have used this knowledge to create Climate Action Plans to ensure their jurisdictions can continue to maintain quality of life in both the short and long term.
Climate change and air quality have no boundaries, as a region, individuals and organizations are stepping up and doing their part to become more energy efficient and environmentally conscious. Together, we are tackling this global problem at a regional level, taking steps every day, across multiple sectors, to ensure future San Diegans can continue to access and enjoy the environmental diversity throughout our communities.
Partner Success Stories
Air Quality Research For
Pollution Mitigation Programs
In 2018, the San Ysidro Air Quality Monitoring Project began to collect air quality data and share it with local, state, and federal stakeholders, to create future solutions to improve air quality in this border community. This multi-year research project involved the University of Washington, San Diego State University, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the community organization, Casa Familiar. Together, they installed air quality monitors at several sites to track pollution data, which can be used to develop effective pollution mitigation programs.
This program was special as it used a new community-focused approach. This first-of-its-kind effort involved collaborating with air districts and local residents at the neighborhood level to identify pollution sources of concern, develop solutions, and track progress together.
This project was successful in engaging various air quality stakeholders in the use of air quality sensors in the Border Region. It helped build capacity for deploying novel, lower-cost air quality monitoring technologies, and demonstrated best-practices for their use in the Border Region to improve understanding of air quality at Ports of Entry. Findings from the project’s air quality monitoring indicated elevated particulate matter concentrations at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Port of Entry sites relative to other community sites in the Border Region in relation to traffic patterns. The next steps are to begin to develop solutions based on the collected study data.
In February 2015, SANDAG completed the Border Health Equity Transportation Study, documenting the links between the built environment and health outcomes in the San Ysidro community near the U.S.-Mexico border. To explore the study recommendations in detail, see their interactive story map.
Convention Center Leads in
Sustainable Business Practices
The San Diego Convention Center has made concerted efforts to become a regional leader in sustainable business practices. Their business practices have been recognized for going above and beyond when it comes to environmental responsibility in operating and managing the venue, which is LEED Gold Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Hosting hundreds of events with hundreds of thousands of attendees brings numerous positive economic impacts to the San Diego region but it can also mean negative environmental impacts as well.
To offset these impacts the Convention Center invested $1.5 million dollars in 2019 towards building improvements including a brand-new recycling sorter conveyor with the goal of diverting 75% of waste from landfills by 2020 and 95% by 2030. This sorter allows the Convention Center to separate out materials into different streams such as plastics and aluminum and redeem eligible materials to offset some of the recycling costs. These recycling efforts along with composting, food donation, and water conservation are part of the San Diego Convention Center’s commitment to sustainability and community.
Incorporating Sustainable Practices at the YMCA
The YMCA of San Diego County believes that environmental sustainability is rooted in the commitment to social responsibility. With 18 branches, three overnight camp facilities and other buildings, the YMCA of San Diego County is continuously looking to implement sustainability measures to ensure facilities are energy efficient.
The new Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in southeastern San Diego opened in October 2017 and serves as a prime example of sustainability. This 45,000-square-foot facility was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council on factors including energy efficiency, water savings, indoor environmental quality and other efficient systems—achieving more than 37% more efficiency than what the California Building Standards Code mandates.
YMCA branches like Border View and Copley-Price are currently using solar energy and six more YMCA locations across San Diego are in process to use high-efficiency solar panels. These locations include Toby Wells YMCA, Mission Valley YMCA, McGrath Family YMCA, Cameron Family YMCA, and Dan McKinney Family YMCA.
San Diego International Named Only 2nd
Carbon Neutral Airport in North America
ABC 10 News reported that the San Diego International Airport is only the second major airport in North America to receive a carbon neutral rating. It received the Airports Council International's Airport Carbon Accreditation program's highest rating, Level 3+, for completing annual inventories of carbon emissions, offsetting residual emissions from fuel, electricity and staff business travel and engaging with business partners such as airlines to reduce emissions onsite. Dallas Forth Worth International Airport as the only other Level 3+ airport on the continent.
San Diego Gas & Electric helped to expand the airport’s electric charging infrastructure to facilitate the use of electric airside ground service equipment.