2008 Corporate Responsibility Report

How we are creating a smarter foundation for a sustainable future

Photo: Robert Houser, roberthouser.com
The California Academy of Sciences’ commitment to a sustainable future informs every facet of the organization—from scientific research to exhibit design to educational outreach to day-to-day operational policies and practices. PG&E's four-year, $1.5 million grant and collaboration with the Academy is helping to advance this commitment by educating Californians about how they can take action on climate change. PG&E is honored to support the Academy in its important mission and to help inspire future leaders to create a more sustainable California.

Dr. Gregory Farrington, Ph.D., executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, is an innovative leader who brings a creative vision to the institution's educational, research and community programs.

What is the mission of the Academy?

The formal mission of the Academy is to explore, explain and protect the natural world. This mission includes two of the most important issues of our time. First, what is the nature of life on Earth? Second, how will we find a way to sustain it?

What makes the Academy such a special place?

It starts with our spectacular new building, with its living roof and many "green" features. But what really sets us apart is what we do with the facility. We run an active research program, which is lively and worldwide in its scope. And we offer exceptional exhibits and programs for our visitors, as well as curricula and classes for teachers and students. The Academy is the only institution of its kind that combines a planetarium, aquarium and natural history museum with world-class research and education initiatives.

Why is it important to educate the public on global warming?

One of our responsibilities is to educate people about climate change, including the driving forces behind it and the genuine need to do something about it before the consequences are too severe. Our role is to present the best science available and to be a place where kids—and big kids, too—say, "Wow, isn't that interesting?" We also want to provide lots of information so visitors can build on their "wow" moment and take action.

PG&E is delighted to be a significant supporter of the Academy. Has our partnership brought benefits to the Academy?

We've really enjoyed our relationship with PG&E, which provides financial support to help run our non-profit institution and intellectual resources to help inform our programs and exhibits. We especially appreciate PG&E's support for our climate change and "science in action" exhibits. People are paying attention to what we're presenting and that's a good start. And they're leaving messages on our message board and talking and thinking about how they can live greener lives.

What can others learn from this partnership?

We all have an enormous potential to inspire and engage the next generation on the urgent issue of climate change. After all, the single most important resource to deal with this challenge is smart kids—an amazingly renewable resource that runs on peanut butter and grows in all neighborhoods.

How can PG&E lay a smarter, sustainable foundation for the future?

Our challenge as a society is to take sips, not gulps, of energy, and to explore better ways of generating our power in the first place. How do we maintain our quality of life, but at a much lower energy footprint? From what I've seen, PG&E gets that challenge and is taking the long-term view.