In November, 2013, seven San Diego-area companies embarked on a six-month journey of sustainability learning, interaction and idea generation. As participants in the latest San Diego Sustainability Circle program, these businesses, non-profit organizations and city government entities achieved the goal of adopting sustainable practices that both save money and make a positive environmental impact on their communities.

Together, these seven participants generated 176 sustainability initiatives or an average of 25 per company. As a result of their participation in the San Diego Circle program, they identified a combined annual savings of

  • $3.5 million
  • 11.9 million kWh
  • 8,200 metric tons in CO2 emissions
  • 5.1 million gallons of water

Here’s a look at what four of the participants have achieved since completing the latest session in April, 2014:

FP logo indexFrancis Parker School

San Diego’s oldest and largest independent, coeducational day school operates from two locations, with multiple buildings at each campus. Recent and upcoming sustainability measures include:

  • Purchase of Energy Star-qualified dishwashers
  • Replacing site lighting with LED technology
  • Composting all food waste from students and turning leftover perishable items into fertilizer (with non-perishable leftover food donated to San Diego Food Bank)
  • Replacing plastic to-go lunch containers with reusable containers
  • Consolidating computer servers from 40 to 15, reducing consumption of energy and saving approximately $10,000 a year
  • Launching a comprehensive, student-led recycling program

Cobham Defense Electronics San DiegoCobham

The defense and aerospace industry supplier has leveraged its Circle participation to focus on employee engagement, with a successful “building competition” for sustainable practices. Cobham expects to exceed its energy reduction targets by the end of 2014. Management recently approved a measure to transfer savings from energy reduction and recycling efforts into funding for employee recreation and merit bonuses.

Also, at a recent company-sponsored SDG&E lighting fair, employees purchased more than 1,100 LED light bulbs. Another company-wide recycling campaign is coming soon.

The City of Chula Vista

In July, Sustainability Circle participants presented Chula Vista’s mayor and City Council with a City Operations Sustainability Plan (created while participating in the Circle program). The plan was adopted shortly thereafter. According to a city press release, the plan will “help reduce municipal costs, improve local environment conditions, and lead by example in the community and the region.” The key areas of focus are:

  • Energy useChula Vista Logo
  • Water use
  • Green purchasing
  • Waste management
  • Pollution prevention
  • Green buildings
  • Infrastructure

The new plan’s sustainability strategies include “transitioning to zero-net energy design for new City buildings, expanding preferential parking for carpool and alternative fuel vehicles at municipal facilities throughout the city, integrating green specifications into City procurement processes and hosting sustainability-focused trainings for City employees.”

Monterrey ProvisionsMonterreylogo

As a result of Sustainability Circle participation, Monterrey Provisions, a recognized industry leader in custom food distribution, has:

  • Begun a full retrofit to LED from all metal halide lighting in its refrigerated warehouses.
  • Started a soft plastic recovery program in partnership with its largest customer and a faux wood paneling company.
  • Equipped all Monterrey staff with reusable, personalized Monterrey water bottles, encouraging employees to conserve by filling up water instead of purchasing new water every day.

Other organizations participating in the recent San Diego Sustainability Circle program include Anthony’s Fish Grotto, Doncasters and the Neighborhood House Association.

“I am extremely proud of what this diverse group of organizations was able to accomplish during the Circle program,” says Sustainability Coach Ellen Kappes. “I look forward to seeing what results from the knowledge, tools, connections, and fresh ideas that these individuals brought back to their organizations after participating in the Sustainability Circle.”