Jan 29, 2024 - Development

Environmental groups lobby mayor to rethink gas-burning Convention Center remodel

A crowd of people and comic con signage at the San Diego Convention Center.

The San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con. Photo: Araya Doheny/Getty Images

A coalition of environmental advocacy groups is urging Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council to intervene in Convention Center renovation projects that would install natural-gas appliances in spite of city pledges to electrify buildings across San Diego.

State of play: The San Diego Building Electrification Coalition last week sent a letter to city and Convention Center officials arguing that new gas-burning kitchens and HVAC systems violate the city's policy of zero emissions for municipal buildings.

  • That policy stipulates that city-owned buildings install electric kitchen and heating/cooling systems whenever they replace or upgrade existing ones.

Flashback: The San Diego Convention Center Corporation — the city-created nonprofit that manages the facility — is pursuing the multimillion-dollar projects despite city policy committing to eliminate half of natural-gas usage in city buildings by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

What they're saying: "We are calling on the city to investigate the misalignment of the Convention Center's facility upgrades with the Climate Action Plan and to ensure the central plant redesign [in progress] is all-electric," the coalition wrote in its letter to the mayor, members of the City Council's environmental committee and Convention Center officials.

  • The mayor's office did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

Why it matters: The city's commitment to decarbonize buildings is a central piece of its Climate Action Plan, which aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2035.

  • The city isn't just concerned with its own buildings; it has promised to slash 45% of natural-gas usage from all buildings in the city by 2030, and 90% by 2035.
  • 25% of the state's emissions come from residential and commercial buildings.
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