January 24, 2013
The Aquarium of the Pacific is the first among museums, zoos, and aquariums to be awarded with the State of California’s most prestigious environmental honor.
Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown has recognized the Aquarium of the Pacific for its role in California’s environment and economy. The Aquarium of the Pacific is the first among museums, zoos, and aquariums to receive the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). This award program was established in 1993 and is California’s most prestigious environmental award, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency. The award recognizes those responsible for conserving California’s resources, protecting and enhancing the environment, and building private-public partnerships. “The Aquarium’s project was deemed exceptional for its innovative concept and value to California’s environment and economy,” said Matthew Rodriquez, California Environmental Protection Agency secretary.
Under its master plan developed in 2002, the Aquarium has added new facilities and exhibits that demonstrate environmental concepts from climate change to watershed education to empower millions of visitors while minimizing the environmental impact of these new features. Also, annual attendance increased 26 percent while the Aquarium’s carbon footprint has decreased by 20 percent, and water use has decreased by 30 percent. “Our master plan demonstrates that greening can be sustainable from a business as well as an environmental perspective,” said Douglas Otto, Aquarium of the Pacific Board director and architect of its campus master plan.
The Aquarium continues to lead its industry with efforts to minimize its carbon foot print while inspiring others to adopt greener practices. In 2007 the Aquarium of the Pacific became the first among U.S. aquariums, zoos, and museums to certify its greenhouse gas emissions with a third-party registry. The institution was named a Climate Action Leader™ by the Climate Action Registry and continues to register its emissions annually. The Aquarium’s architecture and exhibit plans are designed to help keep carbon emissions down each year.
In 2008 the Aquarium opened its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-certified watershed education classroom and exhibit, which is the first carbon-neutral building of any aquarium in the nation. Exhibit messaging encourages visitors to conserve California’s precious water resources. The Ocean Science Center is designed to LEED Gold standards and features climate change programming. The Aquarium’s retail expansion opens this summer and is targeted to meet the stringent 3 Green Globes rating. Sustainable design and operation are integral components of all future building projects.
Since its inception, the Aquarium has provided environmental education to over 20 million visitors and millions more through offsite programs and national, statewide, and regional partnerships. “It is by building relationships between and among people that we can deal with the most pressing environmental issues. Our goal is to connect people to nature through entertaining, educational, and empowering programs and exhibits,” said Dr. Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president.