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Earth Fair Draws Businesses on Mission to Advance Green Efforts

Mother Earth has much to be pleased about as hundreds of local businesses and residents gear up to celebrate and advance green efforts in honor of Earth Day on April 22.

UC San Diego plans to host a weeklong Earthweek event this week, with tree plantings, recycling demonstrations and organic meals.

Meanwhile, the American Institute of Architects’ San Diego chapter is seeking nominations for energy-efficient structures that incorporate sustainable designs and strong architectural features, for an upcoming awards ceremony.

I Love a Clean San Diego, a nonprofit promoting awareness of environmental issues, is hosting the sixth annual Creek to Bay Cleanup on April 26 to celebrate a clean and green San Diego. Last year, hundreds of volunteers combed beaches, bays, canyons and urban areas, removing 202,000 pounds of trash.

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Project Green

The local office of Edaw, a San Francisco-based company that offers urban design services and environmental consulting, is hosting its own Earth Day celebration April 24. The event, Project Green, will bring together key decision-makers to gather information on sustainable practices.

“Responsible design and conservation are built into the fabric of our business practice,” said Amy Bridge, director of business management with the San Diego office of Edaw. “It is the language of every day, not just one day of the year.”

The office recently earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which serves as the benchmark for sustainable design.

Gerding Edlen Development Co. LLC is participating in Earth Day events from its Los Angeles office this week. The Portland, Ore.-based developer hopes to spread its green reputation in San Diego by next year’s Earth Day. The developer is one of two finalists seeking to develop the city of San Diego’s proposed Civic Center.

Principal Tom Cody says his company has been incorporating green features and materials into projects for years, but often the development industry is driven by the bottom line.

“We have a very different approach that I think is becoming more and more relevant as the marketplace and the government become more concerned about the environment,” he said.


Earth Fair

Earth Fair 2008, dubbed the largest free annual environmental fair in the world, was scheduled for April 20 at Balboa Park with more than 400 volunteers, 200 exhibitors and 60,000 visitors.

“Participating in Earth Fair is one of many ways we invest in communities where our employees live and work,” said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman Corp.’s U.S. Air Force Global Hawk program manager in Rancho Bernardo. Northrop Grumman was one of about two dozen fair sponsors.

“Environmental management has been an essential part of our way of doing business for years,” Guerra said. “We take a team approach by engaging our employees and emphasizing the importance of protecting the environment in and out of the workplace.”

San Diego-based Cymer Inc. has been an Earth Fair sponsor for the past two years. The semiconductor equipment maker earmarks almost $1 million for cultural, civic, education, health and environmental initiatives. It urges recycling daily and had planned to spread the word at the fair about electronics recycling.

Its exhibit at Earth Fair provided information about Cymer e-Cycle, a free electronic recycling event held each fall at Qualcomm Stadium. In the past three e-Cycles, Cymer collected 1 million pounds of household and business electronics from the community.


Energy-Conscious Features

Another sponsor, Los Angeles-based Pardee Homes is attempting to incorporate energy-conscious and environmentally sensitive features into its San Diego homes.

Beth Fischer, San Diego division president, urged residents to visit GoGreenPardee.com to see how they can join the green life. Pardee is one of the first homebuilders to feature solar systems and has eight green neighborhoods in San Diego County.

Westfield UTC is not only a sponsor of this year’s Earth Fair. The international retail developer plans to make San Diego home to its first green project in North America. The Australian-based Westfield Group and JPMorgan Asset Management have proposed a $900 million green mixed-use project, which includes up to 250 residential units and 750,000 square feet of retail space, at the existing shopping center in University Towne Center.

Jonathan Bradhurst, Westfield’s senior vice president for development, says the project could be put before the City Council for approval this summer.

The development incorporates renewable and recycled materials, solar panel arrays and recycled water. Bradhurst says consuming less will mean spending less in utilities.

“There are some initial capital costs that will be increased, but the pure economic payment is definitely something we are satisfied with,” he said.

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