Green California Leadership Awards Announced
The winners of the 2012 Green California Leadership Awards, acknowledging public sector sustainability, have been announced. The awards will be presented at the Green California Summit on April 26, 2012, during the Leadership Awards Ceremony at the Sacramento Convention Center.
The leadership awards were established to recognize outstanding environmental achievements by cities, state agencies and other government entities in California. The eight award topics and winners are chosen in cooperation with the Summit’s Advisory Board. Award categories range from sustainability in transportation projects to climate change, energy innovation, water and waste management. All nominated projects are publicly financed and executed and have a measurable benefit to the natural and human environment.
The Transportation award honors projects that have a strong sustainability aspect. This year, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) won the award for its Presidio Parkway Plant Collection and Salvage Project, which is a roadway construction project in San Francisco’s Presidio that required extensive clearing of vegetation, including trees, shrubs and many native plants. In a unique and far-sighted effort, the agency created an advance contract to salvage and propagate seeds, remove trees, implement measures to prevent storm water pollution and establish access and a staging area for the civil contractor within the Presidio.
Many municipalities throughout California have enacted climate action plans to lower their carbon footprint and foster sustainability, but the County of Alameda has taken their plan to a new level and therefore has received the Pioneer Award for Comprehensive Climate Action for Government Operations and Services. Addressing the need for local government leadership in the area of climate action, the County’s 9,000 employees and 120 facilities must meet rigid greenhouse gas reduction targets. The climate action plan has 16 specific Climate Commitments and clear targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
Solar for All California, a pilot program designed to install rooftop photovoltaic solar systems on the homes of more than 1,000 low-income families throughout California at no cost to the resident has won the Energy Innovation Leadership Award for the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD). A recent study showed that low-income households can spend as much as 16.4 percent of their income on residential energy services, while an average household spends only 7.2 percent. The CSD brought together a diverse group of public and private partners to offer these potentially life-changing PV systems to some of California’s neediest families.
The Green Building Leadership Award was won by the California Building Standards Commission for developing CALGreen, the nation’s first mandatory green building code. CALGreen requires that all buildings in California now be constructed with the environment in mind, including energy and water conservation measures along with the use of renewable, recyclable and recycled materials. The elements of CALGreen included a three-year comprehensive and transparent rulemaking process and a tremendous collaborative effort, with stakeholders throughout the state participating in the code development process, including local jurisdictions, private interest groups and members of the public. CALGreen has impacted the development of green building goals and efforts other states in the U.S., as well as in other countries.
The City of Sacramento has earned the Green Economic Development Leadership Award for its Clean Energy Sacramento Program which enables building owners to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades over the long-term through their property taxes. The city has partnered with Ygrene Energy Fund to administer and fund the program with $100 million in private capital. Clean Energy Sacramento was designed to meet a number of challenges, not the least of which is its 13 percent unemployment rate, which will be positively impacted by the creation of up to 1,100 jobs over the next 5 years. The program will also eliminate the up-front costs for installing renewable energy and energy efficiency retrofits for commercial buildings.
Designed to take advantage of the well-established third-party ownership model within the solar industry, the Department of General Services Renewable Energy Program breaks new ground with the same model for wind, solar thermal and combined heat and power and wins the Leadership Award in the category of Climate Change. The program has resulted in the construction of large-scale solar photovoltaic arrays with zero capital expenditure by the state. The power generated by the systems is then purchased by the host facility and used on site at a cost less than that paid to utility provider which results in a savings over the term of the contract.
The City of Oxnard is a community highly focused on the agricultural industry, and changes in the cost and supply of water are a direct threat to the local economy and way of life. Oxnard has won the Water Management Leadership Award for its innovative and aggressive approach to water conservation with the Groundwater Recovery Enhancement and Treatment (GREAT) Program. It combines wastewater recycling and reuse, brackish groundwater desalination, groundwater injection, storage, and recovery and restoration of local wetlands. The Advanced Water Purification Facility is a cornerstone of this program, and water produced from the facility undergoes one of the world’s most highly developed purification processes, resulting in high-quality recycled water.
The Waste Management Leadership Award goes to Keep Bakersfield Beautiful. Part of this program is the Great American Cleanup, which included 7,133 volunteers who put in 14,371 hours to clean up a staggering 254,271 pounds of litter, illegal dumping, and debris. The program accomplished the cleanup through collaboration with the area’s local haulers, sponsors and volunteer groups. Volunteers recycled or composted 24,610 pounds of material collected from among 166 clean-up sites. A major part of the city’s Keep Bakersfield Beautiful program is the Greater Bakersfield Green Expo and its student Recycled Material Art Competition. The largest green expo in Kern County, fees collected from 45 vendors enabled more than $21,500 in student scholarships and teacher stipends.
“On an ongoing basis, local and state government agencies and their employees and partners throughout the state continue to make major advances in sustainability,” said Carl Smith, Green Technology editor in chief. “Over the years, we hope to use these awards to recognize as many as we can and to spotlight their achievements.”
For more information on the Green Leadership Awards reception and the Green California Summit or to register, go to www.green-technology.org/gcsummit or call 626-5700.