The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, Sustainable Works and the City of Santa Monica has announced this year’s SQA winners.
“These businesses are engaging in voluntary practices that reduce air and water pollution, generate less waste and reduce traffic and pollution,” said Dean Kubani, Director of the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “Additionally, they are improving quality of life for residents and workers and building a strong local economy.”
For 15 years the Sustainable Quality Awards (SQA) has honored organizations and businesses, large and small, private and non-profit, located in Santa Monica or belonging to the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. This growing group of award winners demonstrates achievements in economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment above and beyond their primary mission.
“The businesses being recognized for their leadership demonstrate that being sustainable is not only good for the environment, but it is good for the community and good for the bottom line,” said Laurel Rosen, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. “Now more than ever it is clear that the future of our city and nation is going to be based on environmental, social and economic viability.”
This year’s Keynote Speaker, Terry Tamminen, is an accomplished author, lecturer and strategist on energy and the environment. His latest book, Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction, examines our dependence on oil and offers a strategy to evolve to more sustainable energy sources. Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, writer, producer, eco-blogger and founder of EcoStiletto, will Emcee.
This year there are two SQA Grand Prize winners and seven winners in the Excellence Category. The 2010 SQA Winners are:
Co-opportunity SQA Grand Prize
Co-opportunity is a natural foods grocer providing natural and organic foods to Santa Monica and the surrounding area since 1974. They were the first grocery store on the Westside to install a two-kilowatt, photovoltaic solar power system- back in 1999.
They have a storewide purchasing policy to obtain organic products and locally California grown produce whenever possible. During staff trainings and meetings, they educate employees on current environmental issues such as the Pacific Gyre, commonly referred to as the “Pacific Garbage Patch”.
Co-opportunity’s waste diversion has increase approximately 40 percent since educating and training their staff on recycling procedures. They provide 100 percent paid medical, dental, life and vision insurance for all full time employees and 95 percent of their employees are employed full time. Before making changes to their health plan, they check in with employees to ensure the new plan covers their needs. They also offer an Employee Assistance Program for mental health benefit. Co-opportunity hosts weekly Monday night speaker’s series and semi regular lectures at the Santa Monica Public Library. Co-opportunity also administers two $1,000 grants to local non-profit organizations every year.
Natural Resource Defense Council SQA Grand Prize
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment.
NRDC’s Santa Monica office building received a Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program. The building has sophisticated water recycling system that captures gray water from showers, sinks, and rainwater that is run through a disinfection and filtration system. The treated water is then re-used for irrigation and flushing toilets, reducing water consumption by 60 percent. After staff calculated 30 percent of their daily waste output consisted of food, an indoor “Nature Mill” unit was purchased to turn food waste into compost, without odors.
The Santa Monica office has a built-in Environmental Action Center (EAC) designed to increase awareness of the threats to environment and public health, and to empower individuals to get involved in NRDC’s efforts. In addition, the EAC houses a gift shop that sells materials related to NRDC’s mission.
NRDC offers many family-friendly benefits for employees including maternity and paternity policies providing up to 16 weeks unpaid leave, and up to 26 weeks for the care of a covered service member with a serious injury or illness. NRDC solicits employee input for benefits by including one representative from each office on the human resources committee to review all benefits.
Flair Cleaners SQA Excellence in Economic Development
Flair Cleaners is a family owned and successfully operated garment cleaner located in Santa Monica for over 20 years. Their commitment is “It’s Ready, It’s Right or It’s Free!” They have a Customer Service Hotline and a Customer Satisfaction Survey on their website which provides them with valuable feedback from customers on quality and service. Flair offers a VIP Express Service that features two free personalized reusable garment bags for dropping off cleaning without waiting with the option of an automatic credit card billing. They are the only Garment cleaner in Santa Monica that is a member of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and also belong to the Greater Los Angeles Dry Cleaners Association (GLADCA), the California Cleaners Association (CCA), the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute (DLI), and the US Chamber of Commerce.
Gensler Excellence SQA in Social Responsibility
Gensler is a global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm – with over 2,000 employees. They emphasize building retrofits and present proven successful case studies of green building techniques that reduce absenteeism and increase employee productivity.
Since 2000, Gensler hosted more than 1,000 internships firm-wide. Gensler maintains a diverse work force by striving to recruit, and promote women, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities. The firm recognizes a new generation of leaders through an annual recognition program – where employees are rewarded for leadership in their area of discipline. Achievement Awards are given to individuals and teams for contributions made throughout the year for community service, sustainability efforts, mentoring, project work, and other areas.
Gensler offers full medical, dental and vision coverage for family/dependent and domestic partners. In addition, they have an Employee Assistance Plan for behavioral health, wellness, work-life, and crisis intervention services.
Living Homes SQA Excellence in Social Responsibility
LivingHomes’ mission is to create homes and communities that inspire people, foster family and community interaction — using the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) standards.
LivingHomes promotes an open work environment. All employees are given equal opportunity to communicate in all aspects of the company, from product design, to management, to policies and procedures. Twice a month they host Brown Bag Wednesdays where any staff member is welcome to lead a discussion. LivingHomes also offers extensive internship programs in environmental leadership, building technology, marketing and architectural visualization. Two interns have been hired in full-time positions. LivingHomes also has a partnership with the Reuse People and Habitat for Humanity whereby any structure removed for a project is “deconstructed” and the reusable materials are donated.
Pacific Park SQA Excellence in Stewardship of the Natural Environment
The world-famous solar-powered Ferris wheel is located on Pacific Park’s amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier. In 2009 the Ferris wheel received a larger-than-life makeover with 160,000 energy-efficient LED lights that complement solar-panels generating more than 71,000-kilowatt hours of renewable photovoltaic power from the sun.
Office wide, Pacific Park eliminated distribution of bottled waters to staff in 2008 and installed two onsite water filtration dispensers. Employees have their own reusable glasses and mugs to refill. They also have an office-wide and park recycling program for mixed paper, plastic, glass, cans, cardboard, batteries, toner and inkjet cartridges and fluorescent light bulbs.
When a ride, like bumper cars, is replaced valuable materials such as steel are recycled. Most cleaning chemicals used in the office and throughout the park are environmentally friendly or Green Seal Certified.
Sheraton Delfina SQA Excellence in Social Responsibility and Stewardship of the Natural Environment
Sheraton Delfina Santa Monica unites sustainable business practices with a contemporary hotel design aesthetic. The Kor Hotel Group’s “Second Nature” mission laid the tracks for achieving Green Business Certification in 2008 (www.smgbc.org). Noteworthy retrofits include replacing standard landscape sprinklers with a ’Rain Bird’ drip irrigation system.
The Delfina is one of the first luxury hotels on the west coast to pioneer a non-toxic electrolyzed water cleaning agent made from tap water and salt. Integrated Pest Management strategies benefit indoor air quality. Their “Make a Green Choice” linen program exceeds other luxury hotels – offering guests financial incentives for opting-out of housekeeping services.
Delfina strives to recruit local employees and has partnered with the Ocean Park and Pico Neighborhood Association to find qualified residents. Delfina is engaged in the Chamber’s Government and Environmental Affairs Committee, provides in-kind services and donates to numerous non-profits like Sustainable Works, Meals on Wheels and AIDS Lifecycle.
Unitarian Universalist Community Church SQA Excellence in Social Responsibility & Stewardship of the Natural Environment
Unitarian Universalist Community Church (UUCC) had SoCal Edison perform an energy audit in 2007 and completed Sustainable Works Business Greening Program in 2008. They installed reflective film on the office windows and replaced more than 50 incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. Their energy bill decreased from 2,166 kWh per month to 1980 kWh – a nine percent decrease.
To prevent pollutive runoff into the ocean, they installed three cisterns on their patio. UUCC performs remodels using Santa Monica’s Green Building Guidelines. They are reusing materials such as floors, doors and furniture. They post weekly green tips in their announcements and offer a range of adult education classes throughout the year.
Additionally, they hosted three Green Living Workshops funded by the City of Santa Monica and provided by Sustainable Works. A portion of their Sunday Service collection plate goes to a different charity each week. UUCC donated $250 to TreePeople for a grove of 20 trees and members attended a tree planting event in the Santa Monica Mountains.
West LA Print SQA Excellence in Social Responsibility and Stewardship of the Natural Environment
West LA Print is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and a Certified Sustainable Green Printer. By installing a new chemical free printing plate processor, costing over $150,000, they reduced their volatile organic compounds from 300ppm to less than 30ppm. Since installation of the new printing plate, their water usage reduced 25 percent – saving 1,200 gallons of water over four years. Toxic pressroom additives are replaced with eco-friendly alternatives. They also performed an energy efficient lighting retrofit.
West LA Print provides internship opportunities to colleges and high schools via internships with Wildwood School. Staff can take advantage of flex-time schedules and monthly reimbursement for commuting on public transportation. They pay 75 percent of each employee’s medical, dental and life insurance which is a more generous benefits package than generally offered by a small printing company.
The Sustainable Quality Awards Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, May 5, from 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Delfina Hotel in Santa Monica. Pre-paid tickets are $55 for Chamber members and $60 for non-members until April 27. Please reserve tickets by calling 310.393.9825. Tickets and can also be purchased at www.smsqa.com
Mirror Contributing Writerstaff@smmirror.com