Doing Our Part

The Fleet Science Center received LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance in May 2010. Through the process to achieve LEED certification, many steps have been taken to proactively green both visitor spaces and behind-the-scenes work areas.

Since an expansion to the building in 1998, the Fleet Science Center has worked to dramatically reduce energy and water consumption.  In fact, thanks to new technologies and energy-saving strategies, the Fleet now consumes less energy today than it did before the 1998 expansion, which doubled the size of the facility.

The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.


  • The Fleet has partnered with eight science centers, as well as National Geographic and GE, to collaborate in energy education through a project called Connect! Transform the Future.
  • Plan It Green—In this online game, players design and create an energy-efficient city.
  • Energy Education Materials—Teachers, check out these free online resources for engaging students in science, social studies and geography concepts related to energy:  

Solar Panel Installation

  • The Fleet Science Center and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) unveiled the installation of more than 10,000 square feet of solar panels on the roof of the Science Center in March 2007.  The Fleet was the first San Diego museum to install a solar power system of this magnitude.
  • The installation generates more than 100 kilowatts of clean electricity at peak production—enough to light 1,700 60-watt light bulbs, or power about 65 homes.
  • Owned and operated by SDG&E, the solar panels feed electricity directly into the region’s power grid. This contribution of clean solar energy will prevent the release of approximately 60 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Scientists are now convinced that carbon dioxide is one of the primary agents contributing to global warming.
  • In addition to generating clean electricity, the solar panel system is the centerpiece of a hands-on science exhibition at the Fleet called “So WATT! An Illuminating Look at Energy”.

Public Programs

  • Race to Recycle—The Fleet has partnered with Motorola to help you recycle your old cell phone. Visit the Fleet to deposit your old cell phone and we’ll take care of the rest.  Proceeds generated from intact cell phones that are recycled through Motorola benefit the Fleet’s education programs.
  • “Green Day”—this public day dedicated to living green features a Solar Car activity where participants can use solar cells, motors, and various recycled materials to design and build a solar car to take home. Students from local High Schools also collaborate with the public for climate-related activities.

Honors & Awards

  • In May 2010, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded the Fleet Science Center LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (EB: O&M) for its sustainable efforts. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute, is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance, environmentally responsible buildings. The Fleet Science Center is the first building in Balboa Park to achieve LEED Silver Certification.
  • The City of San Diego has honored the Fleet Science Center as a “Recycler of the Year,” for three consecutive years (2008, 2009 and 2010), in their Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards Program.
  • The Center for Sustainable Energy named the Fleet Science Center as Runner Up for the Special Achievement by a Non-Profit Award at the 2007 San Diego Excellence in Energy (SANDEE) Awards. The award honors organizations that show leadership in saving energy and contributing to the creation of a sustainable energy future for the San Diego region.

Energy-Saving Measures

  • Except for some specialty bulbs, all lighting throughout the Fleet uses fluorescent, compact fluorescent, or LED bulbs. These lights provide the same amount of illumination, last longer and use at least 60% less energy than traditional lights.
  • The Fleet uses Energy Star® rated equipment throughout the building.
  • Lights throughout the building are controlled with an automated system and motion sensors, which ensure that lights remain on only when needed.
  • Windows on the south side of the building are double-paned and tinted to help maintain a comfortable temperature inside and reduce air-conditioning needs.
  • The Fleet recently converted its central chiller plant, part of the air conditioning system, from natural gas to electricity—improving its efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This resulted in a 60% reduction in the Fleet’s natural gas usage and only a minimal increase in our electricity usage.
  • The heating and air conditioning system throughout the Fleet is controlled automatically through an Energy Management Computer.
  • The air distribution system in the Heikoff Dome Theater where IMAX® films are screened features an advanced CO2 (carbon dioxide) sensor that determines whether there are people inside the theater. As more people enter the theater, the system automatically increases air flow to compensate, providing fresh air and maintaining the theater at a comfortable temperature. When the theater is empty, the system puts itself into an idle state.

Waste-Saving Measures

  • Use of automated water faucets to reduce water consumption.
  • All toilets throughout the building are low-flow (1.6 gpf).
  • All 10 urinals in the building are waterless, saving up to 450,000 gallons of water per year.

Green Materials & Recycling

  • 33% of total waste generated at the Fleet is recycled; we are working toward a 40% recycle rate.
  • 100% of used batteries, light bulbs and electronic equipment are recycled.
  • Recycled paper products are used whenever possible (copy paper, visitor brochures, tissues, napkins, etc.)
  • All of our custodial and cleaning chemicals are “green” certified.
  • Non-hazardous materials are used throughout the building wherever possible.