Recognizing the need to reduce waste and promote eco-friendly practices, The San Diego Museum of Art is devoted to sustainability and a green environment.

This philosophy of sustainability permeates throughout the Museum, from our maintenance and operations to our restaurant, Panama 66. The Museum’s Mag Lev Multistack chillers, which heat and cool the building, use oil-free, magnetic levitation bearings, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing the need for oil (fossil fuel). Our cleaning supplies are environmentally friendly and formulated to reduce impact on the environment and human health. We have added low-flow fixtures to restrooms and converted to LED lighting in locations throughout the Museum. In 2021 the team expects to complete the transition to high-efficiency LED lighting for all galleries to reduce energy use.

Sustainable Museum Operations

Each office is equipped with a recycling container, which our teams are highly encouraged to use. The Museum staff is also encouraged to bring in their own reusable utensils, but in the event they forget, the Museum supplies compostable plates, bowls, and napkins. For exhibition installation and printing, the Museum primarily uses recyclable materials made of renewable and post-consumer products as well as low-impact ink. The Museum takes energy consumption into account when deciding what equipment to purchase. When it is time to dispose of obsolete computers or other electronic equipment, we use the San Diego Urban Corps, which ensures exceeded regulatory standards for e-waste recycling and disposal. Whenever possible our Museum Store reuses shipping materials and boxes to ship orders nationwide.

To greatly reduce construction material waste, the exhibitions team employs a reusable modular temporary wall system in its special exhibition galleries. Used building materials and fixtures are recycled or donated when possible. Leftover paint from exhibitions is used to repaint offices and hallways, as well as undercoating for colors that may need extra coats. All rags, plastic, and scrap materials are repurposed when possible. All Sintra (PVC material) text and wayfinding panels are repurposed to fabricate cleats to hang new panels.

Careful commitment to stewardship of the environment has been a long-standing focus of the Museum for marketing and exhibition graphics. Nearly all of the Museum’s print materials since 2011, including direct mail, magazine, and other print collateral, have been printed in the San Diego area by vendors who have shown their interest and commitment to sustainability methods and clean air initiatives by using recycling methods and inks that are vegetable-based and water-based. The use of local printers ensures that carbon emissions from air freight and transport is lessened. In addition, the Museum and our print vendors have a commitment to using FSC-certified papers (as the FSC requires that the paper has been harvested in a responsible manner) and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) papers.  

Sustainable Dining

The Museum’s restaurant, Panama 66, buys product from smaller family-run and local companies, brewers, and wine makers, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint. They buy only sustainable seafood and follow the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Grab-and-go takeout offerings use compostable containers that are made from recycled materials, including the salad and sandwich containers, to-go cutlery, and coffee and drink cups. Additionally, Panama 66 gives paper straws upon request, which are 100% biodegradable. The used cooking oil gets picked up each week to be filtered and repurposed. And, of course, our restaurant recycles.

Community Sustainability

We are proud to be part of Balboa Park, which was recognized in 2021 as the first cultural district and historic landmark in the US to be awarded LEED for Cities and Communities certification.

The San Diego Museum of Art recognizes that there is still more that can be done. We will continue to strive for a greener world and adapt and implement policies as new eco-friendly applications are introduced. By practicing and encouraging a sustainable and environmentally friendly attitude, we hope to set a positive example to our visitors and staff, and build a path to an improved world.