Gov. Brown honored 17 companies and organizations last month with the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), the highest environmental honor in the state.
“The award recognizes our responsibility to create a sustainable environment while promoting a vibrant economy,” said Secretary for Environmental Protection Matt Rodriquez. “These 17 public and private entities are showing us the way forward. Their unique approach shows how, given a challenge, California’s businesses, nonprofit organizations and governments can rise to the occasion.”
Established in 1993, GEELA honors individuals, companies and organizations that make significant contributions to the state by developing environmentally friendly practices, while contributing to the local economy.
The 17 2012 winners received the award tonight at a ceremony at the California Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento.
The 2012 GEELA winners are:
*Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, for adopting a master plan committing the institution to growth without increasing energy and potable water consumption. It became the first museum in the United States to earn the status of Climate Action Leader. Their building is the city of Long Beach’s first LEED Platinum building, with solar panels that have reduced dependence on the electric grid by 14,000 kilowatt hours per year. Their landscaping and irrigation innovations have saved 550,000 gallons of water a year.
*Joseph Gallo Farms in Livingston, for using biogas digesters that set a new industry standard and for their work to become the first large cheese plant to integrate green energy. The farm reclaims or reuses 100 percent of its effluent. The company has also reduced the need for 3,000 truck deliveries by pumping milk directly into the cheese plant, saving thousands of gallons of diesel fuel.
*General Dynamics, for reclaiming and recycling more than 78 percent of their waste in 2009, and for raising that figure to 981 percent in 2010. The current recycling rate is estimated at more than 90 percent. This accomplishment is due to the company’s on-site recycling center that uses a custom hopper, conveyor and compactor to improve waste segregation.
*The city of San Diego, for their work to become a leader in plug-in vehicle (PEV) infrastructure. It is the first city in the nation to support a fleet of all-electric shared vehicles that can be rented by the minute. It is also the administrative hub for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, the San Diego Regional Clean Fuels Coalition and is a member of the EV Project that focuses on EV readiness planning. The city hopes to reduce San Diego’s gasoline consumption by 50 percent before 2020 and 90 percent by 2035.
*The county of Sonoma, for being named the Bay Area’s “EV (Electric Vehicle) Ready Community” in 2011 and for setting a goal to have the first all-battery fleet of vehicles in the state. The Sonoma County Electric Trail is an EV charging network that promotes the use for plug in vehicles that will provide an EV infrastructure for all major county cities when complete.
*The city of Richmond and transMETRO Inc., for implementing the EasyGO program to enhance mobility options for low-income residents while reducing vehicle miles and mobile source emissions. The partnership offers a number of services for Richmond residents and addresses the community’s need for better access to environmentally friendly and low-cost transportation.
*The University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, for their work to become a world-class research facility focused on the responsible use and safe implementation of nanotechnology in the environment. The center’s efforts have helped create a paradigm shift for investigating nanomaterial hazard and risk at a scale commensurate with the rate of new nanomaterial development.
*Environmental Defense Fund for launching a nonprofit revolving loan fund to give low-interest loans to fishermen and seafood businesses that implement sustainable fishing practices and innovative business models. Money from the loans is used to buy equipment or improve infrastructure that supports the catching, marketing or processing of eco-friendly seafood.
*San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park for diverting 2,947 tons of its waste from landfills. The diverted waste was composed or recycled. The park is the single largest contributor to the San Francisco Compost Program. The Giants organization (which includes AT&T Park), in partnership with Pacific Gas & Electric (NYSE: PCG), became the first team to install a solar power system in its ballpark, a decision that generated enough energy to power 5,200 homes.
*Mattole Restoration Council for their work to restore and conserve the Mattole River watershed in Mendocino County. The council’s Forest Futures Project applies long-term thinking to the future of the forests, and establishes a set of “light-touch” harvest methods that promote the development of older forests and are compatible with economically viable logging.
*Ecology Action for their 40 years of work empowering individuals, businesses and communities to take actions that achieve environmental and economic sustainability. Their Right Lights Energy Efficiency Program assists small- and medium-sized businesses with energy efficiency upgrades and offers customers a free energy audit.
*Wildwoods Foundation for providing innovative outdoor and nature-based programs to the communities of the greater Los Angeles region. Their Full Circle project helps students understand the importance of interdependence, diversity and sustainability. The program serves 350 students a year and allows students to create a web site that documents their exploration of the community surrounding their school.
*Sapphos Environmental Inc., a Pasadena-based consulting company, for recently completing a major solar power conversion project that installed 506 photovoltaic panels on its building and parking lot. Staff members installed solar carports to test their ability to put into practice the kinds of technologies they recommend to clients. It uses its building as an example to clients in order to demonstrate pride in projects that have a minimal environmental footprint.
*State of California, Department of General Services, for recently completing a central utility plant in Sacramento that provides chilled water and steam to cool and heat 23 state-owned buildings. The project is an environmentally sustainable facility, is LEED Platinum certified, and saves an estimated $464,000 in electrical and $148,000 in gas costs each year.
*Alameda-Contra CostaTransit, for building the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration program in the country. Its zero-emission fuel cell cars and buses emit only water vapor from their tailpipes and have saved more than 68,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The system will install 400 kilowatt hours of solid fuel cells that will provide stationary power to its largest operating division, and has also installed 2,500 solar panels on its buildings, delivering a significant portion of the power needed to operate each facility during the day.
*U.S. Navy Region Southwest, for achieving an 81.5 percent diversion rate of its waste through its innovative and comprehensive recycling program. Its efforts have reused $1.2 million worth of office furniture and diverted 344 tons of waste from landfills. It recycled 343 obsolete rails cars from Seal Beach at no cost to taxpayers. Their model sustainability showroom showcases recycled furniture and office products that are both beautiful and functional.
*County of Santa Cruz, for achieving a 75-percent waste diversion rate in 2010 and is striving for a zero-waste goal. In the past year, the county has banned the sale of polystyrene foam, plastic bags at most retail establishments, passed an ordinance to properly recycle e-waste, grown a thriving green business program, and established comprehensive strategies to reduce waste. Local beach cleanup efforts have collected more than 900 pounds of trash and 4,000 pounds of recyclable material.
GEELA program recipients are selected by a large panel of evaluators, including secretaries from the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Natural Resources Agency, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the State and Consumer Services Agency, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Health and Human Services Agency and the Governor’s Office.
For more information about GEELA, visit calepa.ca.gov/Awards/GEELA/.