DEL MAR — The 22nd District Agricultural Association, the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the San Diego County Fair continue to work at reducing energy costs, recycling as much as possible and supporting the environment.
During this year’s San Diego County Fair, the fairgrounds encouraged its vendors to reduce electricity costs by keeping outside lights off until 7 p.m., and installing energy-efficient LED lights in their stands and displays. Electrical use by vendors is also monitored to ensure no unreasonable power demands are made. Fines can be imposed by the fairgrounds for excessive electrical use. In addition, managers on duty make early rounds of the grounds to ensure overnight lights are turned off.
Solar energy panels were installed on some of the barns in 2003 to help offset the cost of electricity. In total, reducing electrical usage and using solar power dropped the fair’s energy cost by more than $150,000 last year.
The conservation of energy is always an agenda item at weekly senior staff meetings, contributing to a culture of energy conservation. Effective measures that contribute to this culture include a major lighting retrofit project that was recently completed, replacing older inefficient lighting fixtures with new energy-efficient fixtures and bulbs in the fairgrounds’ exhibit halls, and at the stables on the fairgrounds and at nearby Horsepark Equestrian Center. Heat-reflective window film is installed in most south-facing exterior windows, and photocell motion sensors are installed in various offices and restrooms to control lights and equipment. Fairgrounds employees are also encouraged to charge electric golf carts during times of off-peak demand, when energy costs are lowest.
This culture of efficiency is also encouraged in all employees, who are urged to turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
The fairgrounds’ recycling program began in 1985 with office paper recycling. Since then, the fair has increased its focus on recycling and now diverts more than 30 different materials to recycling, which represents 93 percent of the solid waste produced on the grounds.
All pre-consumer food waste from the fair’s vendors — everything from potato peels to lemon rinds — is collected daily and diverted to bins that are converted to compost. Other organic waste such as palm fronds and ice plant are sent to the landfill and used instead of dirt as landfill cover. More traditionally recyclable items such as glass and aluminum are collected in familiar blue bins around the fairgrounds, but cardboard and wooden pallets are also collected. These are sold to recycling companies.
The 22nd DAA also is working toward the restoration of the San Dieguito coastal wetlands. Four nesting sites for the California least tern and Western snowy plover are in the San Dieguito River Park area under the authority of the 22nd DAA.