Saving Energy to Serve More People in Need: The San Diego Food Bank

It’s no small feat to provide food to 370,000 people per month – roughly the combined population of Chula Vista, National City, Lemon Grove and Coronado.

Ask the San Diego Food Bank what makes it possible for the non-profit to carry on its mission, and you will learn that besides volunteer labor and donations, energy efficiency is another ingredient to its success.

With its new LEED v4 Gold Status certification, the Food Bank is on the fast track to becoming the “greenest” food bank in America. Recently, this 40-year-old institution was honored for its energy efficiency efforts at SDG&E’s 12th Annual Energy Showcase awards ceremony, which recognized forward-thinking businesses that are making a big impact on reducing their carbon footprint to clean the air and help us build healthier communities.

Greening the Food Bank

As part of the LEED v4 certification, SDG&E and building industry volunteers worked closely with the Food Bank on a checklist of environmentally healthy practices to reduce water and waste, increase energy efficiency and incorporate more effective operations to “green” its facility. The energy savings achieved from the recent certification made a tangible difference: Money saved was sufficient to provide 875,000 meals for those in need.

Tackling the Three Rs: Refrigeration, Recycling, and Reducing Waste

Historically, refrigeration is one of the Food Bank’s largest energy expenditures. After installing phase change materials to allow for refrigeration compressors to be shut off for 12 hours a day, it saw an impressive 40-percent drop in energy usage.

Another point of pride for the Food Bank is the implementation of food recycling technology. Rather than sending 600,000 pounds of spoiled food to the land fill each year, it now operates a turbo separator and digester to process spoiled food into compost. The compost is made available to community partners to fertilize community gardens that produce food for local residents.

James Floros, president and CEO of the Food Bank, said the comprehensive energy audit his organization received from SDG&E helped guide its energy-saving improvements.

“Innovation is one of the main components of our strategic plan,” said Floros. “We continually re-evaluate our processes, programs and facility to see how we stack up against progressive industry standards. In addition, we look to our partners, like SDG&E, for ways that we can constantly be on the cutting edge and save.”

Watch this short video to learn more about how the Food Bank is saving energy, saving money and feeding more San Diegans.



This article is part of a series highlighting SDG&E’s 2017 Energy Champions. Click here to watch short video profiles showcasing how we’re working together to build healthier communities.