Port of San Diego takes its role as environmental steward seriously



Robert “Dukie” Valderrama, Chairman, Port of San Diego, Board of Port Commissioners, San Diego, CA, USA


As the environmental steward for San Diego Bay, the Port of San Diego plays a significant role in the conservation of natural resources and is a leader on environmental issues in the region. San Diego Bay is a 12-mile long natural bay in southern California, providing important salt marsh and tidal flats, bird nesting and foraging sites, and essential fish habitats such as eelgrass beds for species along the bay.

The Port is committed to preventing, reducing, and eliminating the discharge of polluted stormwater into San Diego Bay. With over 30 miles of waterfront around the bay, and more than 5,000 acres of tidelands in the Port’s five member cities (San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and Coronado), the conservation of natural resources is no small effort. The Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners takes this task seriously, and continually seeks to implement projects and programs to decrease the Port’s environmental impact, while maintaining economic viability. 

The responsibilities of the Port of San Diego are unique among ports. The Port is an economic engine for the region, operating two cargo terminals, a cruise ship terminal, and is landlord to more than 600 varied businesses along the San Diego Bay waterfront. The Port’s annual operating budget is largely generated from these leaseholds and allows the Port to operate free of taxpayer dollars.  Created by the California Legislature in 1962, to manage the Bay and the surrounding waterfront land, the Port also provides public amenities along the waterfront, including 18 public parks, multiple boat launch ramps, and a commercial fishing marina. With these varied responsibilities, we constantly are looking for opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint, while at the same time maintaining economic viability.

Going green

The Port of San Diego’s Green Port Program is one example of how the Port is working proactively to reduce its environmenta footprint. The Board of Port Commissioners launched the initiative in December 2007, with the adoption of a Green Port. This policy established the framework for the Green Port Program to achieve long-term environmental, economic and societal benefits through resource conservation, waste reduction and pollution prevention. The Green Port Program identifies six key areas of focus: water, energy, air, waste management, sustainable development, and sustainable business practices. The Port has achieved significant resource savings and waste reductions in its daily operations through the implementation of initiatives under the Green Port Program. With growing concern over rising utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions, energy has become one of the major areas of focus in the Green Port Program. The Port has adopted a goal to conserve energy and maximize the energy efficiency of Port operations, providing accountability and commitment to energy savings. Significant progress is being made toward achievement of this goal, through a number of large and small partnerships and initiatives.

Energy conservation

In 2008, the Port forged a partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), our local utility provider. The partnership supports the Port’s Green Port Program with programs that deliver net energy savings, peak demand savings and greenhouse gas reductions, through the implementation of energy efficiency activities. This partnership will increase the energy efficiency of Port operations, as well as among businesses that operate within the Port’s jurisdiction.

Energy efficiency measures have reasonable payback periods and ultimately reduce operational costs. SDG&E also provides many incentive programs, allowing facility retrofits to be implemented at little to no cost. The Port’s partnership with SDG&E is being used as a model in the San Diego region. These programs will conserve energy and reduce demand on the grid, resulting in a win-win situation for organizations such as the Port and the local utility.

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