Attendees at the 15th Annual Sustainable Quality Awards were treated to an humorous greeting at the luncheon/awards ceremony: former Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce chair Tom Larmore played guitar and sang a satirical ditty about “good garbage” (that can be recycled) and “bad” garbage that the planet gets stuck with.
The Sustainable Quality Awards, presented by the Chamber, the City of Santa Monica, and Sustainable Works, honor businesses and non-profits that take voluntary action to reduce the “bad garbage” through sustainable practices and green products.
Nominees are judged in three categories: economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment. “It’s really difficult to win these awards,” said Dean Kubani of the City’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. Businesses and organizations are judged not just for their “going green” but for their contributions to the quality of life in Santa Monica and their contributions to the economy.
This year’s honorees included two grand prize winners: Co-opportunity, the natural foods grocer, and the non-profit National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Co-opportunity won for its long history of sustainable practices, including a photovoltaic solar power system, organic produce, and a policy of giving employees complete health benefits and an education in environmental issues.
Bruce Palma, general manager of Co-opportunity, thanked his 100-odd employees for their help, and in turn, noted that it was an honor to work for a company “that cares about its employees.”
NRDC was honored for 20 years of service to environmental causes, its LEED certified platinum building, and its Environmental Action Center.
Santa Monica’s Pacific Park was cited for excellence in stewardship of the natural environment, thanks to its solar-powered Ferris Wheel with 160,000 energy-efficient LED lights; its use of onsite water filtration dispensers for staff; recycling of waste; and use of environmentally safe cleaning materials.
Nichola Gore-Jones, of the Sheraton Delfina Hotel (site of the Awards) accepted a duel citation for stewardship and social responsibility. The Delfina uses a non-toxic electrolyzed cleaning agent and a water-saving drip irrigation system.
Eric Stultz received an award on behalf of the architecture firm Gensler, for social responsibility (Gensler emphasizes green building techniques and retrofits).
George Infante’s West L.A. Printing was cited for stewardship and social responsibility. He quipped: “Five years ago I didn’t even know what sustainability was,” but noted that his company now uses 100 percent recycled paper and vegetable-based inks—and they printed the award ceremony’s program.
Also winning were Flair Cleaners, for excellence in economic development, LivingHomes, a builder that follows LEED standards, for excellence in social responsibility, and the Unitarian Universalist Community Church, another duel award winner (social responsibility and stewardship), for use of compact fluorescent bulbs, reused floor and furniture materials, hosting of City-funded Green Living workshops, and other sustainable activities.
Keynote Speaker Terry Tamminem, founder of Santa Monica Baykeeper, spoke of the day when sustainability might be the “norm” and “alternative” might refer to the archaic fuels and methods in use now. But to reach that day, he continued, more people have to learn more about their planet.
“It’s hard for people to understand the concept of seven generations [in the future] and the impact that today’s practices will have.”
Mirror Contributing Writerlynne@smmirror.com