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Balboa Park plans to add seven LEED-certified buildings

Already home to three buildings certified with the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design classification, Balboa Park is planning to have seven more in time for the park’s 2015 centennial celebration.

The announcement was made Wednesday by the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and its partners: the city of San Diego, San Diego Green Building Council and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Together, the groups have laid out plans to facilitate further investments in Balboa Park, leading to the expected LEED certification of some of the park’s landmark buildings. The Old Globe Theatre and the San Diego Air & Space Museum are already in the early stages of the process.

The next targets are Casa de Balboa, Casa del Prado, House of Charm, the San Diego Hall of Champions and the San Diego Museum of Man.

Credited with starting the effort, the park’s Environmental Sustainability Program has resulted in what the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership said amounts to an annual savings of more than $1 million in energy use.

The city began the program in 2008, in collaboration with the BPCP, the San Diego Green Building Council and SDG&E. Since then, the park’s annual electricity is reported to have decreased by 6.3 million kilowatt-hours through the completion of more than 70 projects.

San Diego’s Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said that SDG&E will be a major partner in achieving the 2015 goal, as a major source of the early funding.

“It is a challenge, but it’s achievable and it’s necessary,” Gloria said. “What we’ve been able to show with the three buildings that have been certified is that it’s in the institutions’ financial interests to do this.”

The San Diego Natural History Museum was certified as a LEED building in 2009, followed by the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in 2010 and the WorldBeat Cultural Center in 2012.

SDG&E’s regional vice president of external relations, Frank Urtasun, said the utility’s role will be to help finance the analysis of the buildings, so the U.S. Green Building Council can work with BPCP and its member institutions to implement the changes. SDG&E will make available its incentive programs for energy upgrades and financing options, he said.

Audits funded by grants from SDG&E will be performed before the upgrades.

“We are excited to be a partner in this effort of greening the operations of the institutions in Balboa Park,” said Doug Kot, the San Diego Green Building Council’s executive director. “Every dollar saved in these buildings means another dollar to support the cultural programs that are so important to our community.”

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