Monterey Bay Aquarium

This submission reflects this organization's contribution to the climate effort, representative of their current actions and commitments as well as the ways in which they intend to step up and collaborate with others.

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Climate Action Contribution

About Monterey Bay Aquarium's Climate Efforts

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the ocean, but the ocean is now facing the greatest environmental challenge of our time: climate change. Rising temperatures and ocean acidification are affecting ecosystem health and wildlife, along with our own communities, in profound ways.

At the Aquarium, we advocate for public policies to address climate change and ocean acidification. We conduct scientific research on the effects of climate change on marine life; and bring science-based climate information to our audiences coupled with community-level solutions ideas that inspire people to take action.

Over the past several years, we’ve been reducing our carbon emissions. We are now taking additional actions to meet or exceed the ambitious emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement, as well as the renewable energy and electric vehicle targets set by the State of California. Actions include:

• 100% renewable energy. On March 1, 2018, the Aquarium’s electricity became “carbon free” when we enrolled in Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), a new community choice aggregator serving Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. We championed the creation of MBCP, and urged the development of MBPrime, an MBCP service offering drawing only from solar and wind power. Our newest building, the Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership (opening 2019), will include an almost 7-kW photovoltaic array and battery storage. We’re also exploring the potential to electrify our fleet and building systems.

• Energy efficiency. We’ve been reducing our energy use through efficiency measures that include energy sub-metering, conversion to LED lighting, variable frequency drives, building energy management, “smart” buildings (advanced control systems, automation and energy data analytics) and green IT (Energy Star certification, data center consolidation, server virtualization and automatic shut-downs). Future retro-commissioning and additional energy efficiency measures, including in the new Center, will further reduce our energy consumption.

• Sustainable transportation. We encourage the use of alternative transportation—and have a 36% employee participation rate—through vanpools, carpools, ride-shares, free bus passes and bike purchase loans. To promote electric vehicles and support California’s EV goals, in 2017 we installed eight electric vehicle charging stations for staff use, funded by a grant from the Monterey Bay Air Resources District.

• Carbon credits (carbon neutral offsets). In 2017, the Aquarium was certified as a carbon neutral organization. We offset our estimated carbon emissions with high-quality carbon credits from two REDD (Reduced Emissons from Deforestation and Degredation) projects: Rimba Raya REDD+ in Indonesia and the Valdivian Coastal Reserve REDD in Chile, both of which meet the requirements of the CarbonNeutral Protocol.

• Communicating About Climate Change. The Aquarium has been working for more than a decade on strategies to engage the public, particularly our two million annual visitors, with climate science and solutions. We’ve trained our corps of more than 800 interpretive volunteers and staff in social science research-based techniques for stimulating productive discourse around climate change. We also support nationwide efforts to share communications best-practices through the National Network for Ocean & Climate Change Interpretation and the online community. And we’re reaching the next generation of ocean heroes with climate science curriculum incorporated throughout our teacher development, school field trip and teen programs.

Climate Action Commitments

Current Climate Actions Monterey Bay Aquarium Is Taking:


Commit to Becoming an Environmentally Responsible Cultural Institution

In adopting a leadership role as an environmentally responsible cultural institution, and institution would commit to pursuing some or all of the following:

  • Measure and make public its environmental impacts; set goals for continuous improvement; and evaluate progress and effectiveness.
  • Develop a plan and timeframe for becoming climate neutral, and eventually climate positive.
  • Demonstrate leadership by exceeding existing environmental codes, regulations, and professional standards as appropriate, e.g. setting energy efficiency goals that would be higher than what existing regulations require.
  • Review investments and set a timeframe for investing in a socially responsible portfolio that excludes fossil fuel companies.
  • Identify risks resulting from climate change, and take steps to anticipate and mitigate risks and damage for itself and, in collaboration, on behalf of the community.

Commit to Reducing Materials Consumption and Waste

Institutions can significantly reduce the impact of materials use through life-cycle planning, choosing low-impact materials, and developing convenient, clear, waste-management approaches. Begin by conducting materials or waste audits for regular activities such as exhibit construction, special events, office operations, food service areas, and gift shops. Then, by piloting new practices in specific departments or single events or time periods, you can develop tools and procedures that significantly reduce waste through simple practices. Associated with this commitment, institutions could:

  • Commit to Zero Waste (90% diversion from landfil)
    • Recommended Targets:
      • Divert 60/75/85% institutional waste from landfil by 2020/2025/2030
      • Reach zero waste to landfill by 2030
      • Set construction waste diversion targets by project
  • Commit to Eliminating Single-Use Consumer Plastics
    • Recommended Targets:
      • Eliminate single use water bottles on site by 2020
      • Institute a plastic bag ban on site by 2020
      • Eliminate single use beverage bottles on site by 2022

Commit to Community Education and Communication

Commit to offering education opportunities that are designed for staff, adults, and children, and feature information on clean energy, stewardship, individual/household climate actions, climate advocacy, and any other applicable subjects. The importance of building environmental literacy in changing habits and perceptions is profound, and organizations and institutions trusted to convene the community are among the most impactful educators.


Commit to Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy

While individual organization action is necessary, local and federal government action is also needed to reach global climate goals. Your organization can have a critical voice in advancing public policy. A commitment to responsible engagement in climate policy means that your organization commits to supporting public policy to: promote energy efficiency and renewable energy; increase investment in a clean energy economy; support climate change adaptation, or put a price on carbon.


Commit to Building Climate Resilience in your Community

By committing to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate, companies and institutions can secure their operations and supply chains and conserve natural resources that are stressed due to climate change. While there is much a business can do within their community, primary among these options is reducing water usage. Organizations can commit to increase their own water security through a range of actions, including installing water-saving devices, capturing rainwater for onsite uses, and recycling grey water. Or just commit to get engaged with your community in resilience planning.


Commit to Reducing the Climate Impact of Your Transportation

Organizations making a commitment to reduce the climate impact of transportation should consider practices such as measuring transportation greenhouse gas emissions and setting reduction targets, switching fuels, optimizing the efficiency of shipping operations, and reducing transit- and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses can develop a green transportation action plan to map the movement of goods to market and identify opportunities to increase efficiency. Organizations can buy hybrid and electric vehicles within their own fleet, and can reduce the footprint of their workforce through incentivizing public transportation, installing EV charging stations, promoting telework, and locating near transit centers.


Commit to Increase Your Use of Renewable Power

Increasing your percentage of renewable energy sources is a key component of reducing overall GHG emissions. Installing onsite renewable generation, like solar panels, is a good long-term strategy if possible. But renewable energy can also be procured through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), renewable power purchasing agreements (PPAs), and in some locations from retail electricity providers or local utilities that offers a high percentage of renewable power. Also consider becoming an EPA Green Power Partner.


Commit to Understand and Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Understanding your GHG emissions is the first step to making measurable reductions in those emissions. The EPA provides an overview report and CoolClimate Network provides a simple tool for “low emitters” to better understand sources of emissions, as well as how to use that information to set reduction targets. For this commitment, it is as simple as committing to complete a greenhouse gas inventory for your business or oganization, but in the future your inventory can be used to make a commitment to set a specific goal, such as “reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2025.


Commit to Designing and Hosting a Cross-Sectoral Forum at your Institution

Commit to holding a public campus and community forum or workshop on shared climate action plan goal setting and/or resilience assessments. These forums will compare baseline targets and align the strengths of the respective sectors to drive solutions. This is awarded as a Mark of Distinction for Second Nature Commitment Signatories.

Examples: University Climate Change Coalition; Community Resilience Building


Integrate Climate Change into Portfolio Analyses and Decision-Making

Commit to integrate climate change-related risks and opportunities in portfolio analysis and decision-making processes through one or more of the following:

  • Analyzing and assessing climate change-related risks and opportunities (e.g. through carbon footprinting, scenario analysis).
  • Making commitments and setting targets (e.g. to carbon footprint reduction, to enhanced portfolio resilience, to decarbonization, including via the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition).
  • Investing in low carbon investment funds and other products (e.g. low carbon indices, climate-aligned bonds).

Organization details

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, our mission—to inspire conservation of the ocean—is more urgent now than ever before. Worldwide, the ocean is in peril, its wildlife and habitats threatened by an ever-increasing pace of human activity. We risk losing vital natural systems that sustain us all and are a source of livelihood and inspiration for humanity. We believe that humankind can turn this tide. We envision a world in which the ocean is healthy, and people are committed to protecting the integrity of Earth's life-sustaining natural systems. To make this vision a reality, we help people know more, care more and do more on behalf of the global ocean. Our exhibits and programs introduce people from all walks of life to the wonders of the marine world, from Monterey Bay to the vast ocean beyond. As a leader in ocean conservation, we extend our impact by reaching beyond our walls to inspire the public and policymakers to act on behalf of the ocean.
Cultural Institution
Monterey, CA