Taking Care of (Green) Business in San Diego

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San Diego businesses are done with doing business-as-usual. Small and medium local companies are joining The City of San Diego Green Business Network, a program funded by the City of San Diego, to help businesses reduce operating costs, share ideas, and improve water and energy efficiency and waste management. The San Diego Green Building Council (SDGBC) is part of the process to help businesses realize their goals.  

“Businesses sign up on the website, and then the city gets an alert that a new business has joined the program. Then they are sent to us,” explains Josh Dean, Executive Director at SDGBC. “We reach out to set up an initial evaluation and a site visit, where we identify current operations and water, energy, and waste usage.”

This past spring, 20 students from San Diego State University (SDSU) were integrated into the site visit process. With majors in sustainability, environmental engineering, construction, and economics, the students were keen on gaining hands-on experience to complement their coursework and problem-solve with high-performance operations solutions. After completing GPRO Operations & Maintenance Essentials in March, the students took class concepts and applied them to two local businesses— RNT Architects and ReFind Kitchens

Completing a walkthrough of the spaces, the students were first tasked with identifying areas for improvement through a visual inspection noting aspects such as lighting. From there, they tested for CO2 and formaldehyde levels. “We were essentially going through the GPRO O&M workbook, and identifying what we could do for water, waste, energy, and IAQ,” said David Adler, Program Coordinator at SDGBC.   

After reporting out their recommendations, the students will maintain their relationships with the businesses and help create metrics to track progress over time. As the network grows, more SDSU students are expected to be involved in the fall and take advantage of this hands-on learning experience. 

“It was super inspiring to do these visits because it means that there are local businesses out there who want to track and improve their sustainability,” said Taylor Campbell-Moseley, an Environmental and Physical Geography Major at SDSU. “After one walkthrough as a group, I feel like I can conduct an audit on my own. This opens the door to different types of green jobs.”