Green Initiatives

The Food Bank is going green! Over the last several years, the Food Bank has implemented a sustainability program to reduce our impact on the environment while at the same time greatly reducing costs associated with utilities and waste. Funds saved through our environmental efforts are directed to increased food purchase and distribution.

The Food Bank started our sustainability program with an energy audit that resulted in a significant reduction in energy consumption through a variety of energy saving initiatives. The Food Bank then installed, through generous support from Joan and Irwin Jacobs, 1,400 solar panels on our warehouse roof that made the food bank energy independent. In addition, the Food Bank built a new Recycling & Composting Center that will contribute towards the Food Bank becoming a zero waste facility. Through our sustainability program, the Food Bank is going green and using the considerable cost savings to support our vital hunger-relief programs.

1,400 Solar Panels on the Food Bank’s Roof

In 2015, the Food Bank installed a 1,400 solar panels on our rooftop thanks to a gift of $1 million from Joan and Irwin Jacobs. The solar power installation on the Food Bank’s 90,000 sq. ft. warehouse facility makes the Food Bank energy independent and is saving $120,000 in annual energy costs. The cost savings enable the Food Bank to provide an additional 600,000 meals every year to local families in need.

LEED v4 Gold Certification & Energy Star Award

The Food Bank is on its way to being the greenest food bank in the country. In partnership with the San Diego Green Building Council the Food Bank was awarded a nationally recognized green building certification, known as LEED. Under the San Diego Green Building Council’s Green Assistance Program, made possible by San Diego Gas & Electric, building industry volunteers worked closely with Food Bank facilities staff to achieve green building certification for ongoing operations and maintenance.

The certification, known as LEED v4, provides facilities with a checklist of robust measures including decreasing water and energy usage, and reducing waste, while incorporating more environmentally-friendly operations. To date, the San Diego Food Bank is the first and only facility in San Diego County to achieve LEED v4 Gold Status, and the only food distribution center to receive this certification in the world. In addition, the Food Bank received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Award with our warehouse performing better than 95% of similar facilities across the U.S.

3,600 Sq. Ft. Composting & Recycling Center

The Food Bank’s 3,600 sq. ft. Recycling & Composting Center houses two larger-than-life recycling and composting machines that have a combined weight of 15 tons and a height topping 18 feet. The first machine, called a “turbo separator,” can take in unopened, but damaged and inedible cans, boxes and jars of food which, using cutting-edge technology, separates the food from its packaging while inside the machine – sending the food waste to a composting machine and discharging the paper, plastic and aluminum for recycling.

After separation from its packaging, the food waste is sent to a 10-ton composting machine that turns the food waste into high-quality, nutrient-dense compost which the Food Bank gives to area nonprofits operating community gardens for low-income families.

The Food Bank previously discarded 600,000 pounds of inedible food and its packaging annually, and paid $25,000 in land disposal fees. The Recycling & Composting Center moves the Food Bank towards becoming a zero-waste facility, and the money saved in land disposal fees will provide an additional 125,000 meals to San Diegans in need every year.

For more information about our Green Initiatives, contact Casey Castillo, Vice President of Finance and Administration, at 858-863-5131 or ccastillo@sandiegofoodbank.org