Gay Browne, creator of the Santa Monica-based consumer guide, Greenopia: The Urban Dweller’s Guide to Green Living, was the keynote speaker at the 13th Annual Sustainable Quality Awards (SQA) luncheon on Monday, May 12. She told the 180 people gathered for the event that her “passion for living a healthy life in an increasingly toxic world” inspired her to research and publish the guide, which provides consumers with a resource to locate local green businesses, services, and organizations in metropolitan cities.
The awards, co-sponsored by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and the City of Santa Monica, recognize businesses and organizations for excellence in three categories: stewardship of the environment, social responsibility, and economic development. Those who achieve excellence in all three categories are awarded the SQA Grand Prize.
This year’s four Grand Prize winners were The Lobster restaurant, Duvivier Architects, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, and Morley Builders. Awards for excellence in stewardship of the environment were presented to Taxi! Taxi!, Border Grill restaurant, Hartnell design studio/salon, Jesse Bornstein Architecture, and Rustic Canyon restaurant. Taxi! Taxi! was also recognized for excellence in economic development, and Salesforce.com customer relations management company received an award for excellence in social responsibility.
A new Pioneer Award was given to M3house for its innovation in developing sustainable and affordable housing, and MTV Networks received Honorable Mention for stewardship of the environment.
Two of the Grand Prize winners and four of the other awardees had participated in the business greening program offered by Sustainable Works, a service available without charge to businesses located in Santa Monica, said Susy Holyhead, Director of the Business Greening Program at the nonprofit (310.458.8716 x2 or sustainableworks.org).
Dean Kubani, Manager of the City’s Environmental Programs Division, said, “This was a very diverse and highly accomplished group of applicants [this year]. Our hope is that we can promote a business climate where all businesses achieve the level of commitment to sustainability that these award winners exemplify.”
Kubani noted that both the Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Santa Monica were certified green, a rare circumstance, and that there were more LEED-certified buildings per capita in Santa Monica than anywhere in the nation. He explained that the Awards luncheon was itself a sustainable event, with food waste being composted, the program printed with soy-based ink on post-consumer recycled paper, and carbon credits purchased to make everyone’s transportation to the luncheon carbon-neutral.
Emcees Peter Kreitler and Alexandra Paul of the television show Earth Talk Today kept the program moving, and Kreitler played a “stand up, sit down” game with the audience that established that nearly everyone carried their own canvas bags to the market but far fewer carried their own chopsticks to Asian restaurants.
There were two raffle drawings: one was $5 per ticket with a wonderful prize, and the second was free but only open to people who had come to the event via alternate transportation, including the bus, bicycle, and walking. In a touch of irony, the prize in the second drawing was a free sustainable car wash.