The 16th Annual Sustainable Quality Awards (SQA) were held at the Sheraton Delfina in Santa Monica on April 27. The ceremony honored local businesses and organizations for their achievements in sustainability, economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment.
“We have come together today to honor those businesses whose achievements have become green paradigms for others to follow,” said Laurel Rosen, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.
Two grand prizes were given at the awards luncheon to P.S. 1 Elementary School and LAcarGUY. P.S. 1 is a school that emphasizes a holistic approach to education with environmental sustainability incorporated into all aspects of the school, from curriculum to construction and renovations.
“We are a school that doesn’t call a lot of attention to ourselves, so that makes this award even more meaningful,” said Joel Pelcyger, founder and head of P.S. No. 1.
LAcarGUY is the top hybrid dealer in the world, selling a wide variety of car manufactures at a wide range of prices.
“Even though most people don’t think of the auto business as being eco-friendly and sustainable,” said Alisha Auringer, manager of the environment at LAcarGuy, “LAcarGuy has taken many steps in the last couple years to make it just that.”
Four Excellence Awards were given to Gorman and Miller, a law firm that participates in environmental programs and practices sustainability in its office operations; Lotus East-West Medical Center, a primary care center that offers acupuncture, oriental and naturopathic medicine, medical and osteopathic doctors, and was the first medical facility to receive Santa Monica Green Business Certification in 2007; MINARC, a design studio that offers sustainable design, environmentally conscious construction, and use of recycled materials; and Schaffer’s Genuine Foods, an environmentally conscious catering service.
Four out of the six SQA winners, including both of the grand prize winners, participated in the Sustainable Works Business Greening Program, a free service for businesses located in Santa Monica.
The theme for this year’s SQA was “sustainable food.” During the reception hour from 11 a.m. to noon, guests sampled culinary bites from executive chefs Collin Crannell of The Lobster; Nicholas Schipp of Upper West; Alex Moreno of Border Grill; and chefs from Locanda del LAGO and Whole Foods Market. Each chef partnered with a local farmer from the Santa Monica Farmers Market to prepare the all-sustainable menu. The luncheon (also sustainable) was prepared by Charlie and Kathleen Schaffer of Schaffer’s Genuine Foods and Octavio Sabado of the Sheraton Delfina.
In addition, Mary Sue Milliken, owner of Border Grill and former SQA winner, spoke as a local about the importance of sustainability in business and in restaurant operation.
“What it takes to win a Sustainable Quality Award here in Santa Monica is demonstrating you’re really making the changes and you’re meeting certain goals and criteria,” Milliken said. “What’s great about Santa Monica is that they really help you figure out what you can do.”
Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s “Good Food” and chef/owner of Angeli Caffe, was the keynote speaker. Kleiman told the story of how she got into the restaurant business and why she became an activist.
“If you really would like to live in a world that was more regenerative,” Kleiman said, “then you should really educate yourself and become an activist, because at this point, becoming a conscious eater means you have to become political.”