Recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award


Climate Change


MCE (Marin County)
MCE Solar One (Contra Costa County)

Leading local action on climate change through renewable energy access and local workforce development

MCE is California’s first Community Choice Aggregation program, which allow cities and counties to procure power for residents and businesses within their area as an alternative to their local utility. MCE’s mission is to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, expand access to affordable and clean energy, and create local economic and workforce benefits.

MCE developed the Solar One project, a 10.5 megawatt solar farm on 60 acres of repurposed land leased to MCE by the Chevron refinery in Richmond. The solar farm produces enough renewable energy to serve 3,900 homes and eliminate 3,234 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. MCE partnered with a local workforce development program to train and hire skilled workers for the Solar One project, many of whom are formerly incarcerated residents of Contra Costa County re-entering the workforce. Solar One has supported 341 jobs and enforces a 50 percent local resident hire requirement. MCE’s innovative leadership is ensuring that community needs and job creation are at the heart of renewable energy development.

United Airlines (Los Angeles County)
Sustainable Aviation Fuel at Los Angeles International Airport 

Disrupting the aviation industry with sustainable aviation biofuel

In 2016, United Airlines made aviation history by becoming the first U.S. airline to begin using renewable fuel for commercial operations. United Airlines started using commercial scale volumes of sustainable aviation biofuel for regularly scheduled flights out of the Los Angeles International Airport.

United Airlines agreed to purchase sustainable aviation biofuel from AltAir Fuels over at least a three- year period. This created 65 jobs at AltAir’s previously idled refinery in Paramount, Calif. AltAir’s biofuel is expected to provide a greater than 60 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on a lifecycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel because it is produced from sustainable feedstocks, such as non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes. Combined with increased fuel-efficiency initiatives, United Airlines has reduced CO2 emissions by more than 285,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to removing more than 60,000 passenger vehicles from the road. United Airlines is creating a pathway in the airline industry to reduce its dependence on traditional fossil-based jet fuel, while supporting economic growth.

Dixon Ridge Farms (Yolo County)
From Walnuts to Clean Energy – Becoming a Net Energy Provider

 Advancing sustainable climate change solutions in agriculture

Dixon Ridge Farms, an organic walnut farm and processing operation, has a proven history of commitment to sustainable agriculture. In 2008, Dixon Ridge Farms received a GEELA for their leadership in sustainable management, which included innovative bioenergy production that turned walnut shells into renewable heat and power. Following their award, they set a new goal to be fully energy self-sufficient through increased renewable energy production.

Dixon Ridge Farms has exceeded this goal, expanding to two 100 kilowatt co-generators that use all of the walnut shells from processing, diverting three million pounds of shells annually. Dixon Ridge Farms worked with the University of California, Davis to determine that their entire operation of 1,400 acres and walnut processing is greenhouse gas and carbon negative, producing about half of the emissions of comparable organic farm systems. Dixon Ridge Farms has demonstrated an enhanced approach to clean energy in its farming practices and serves as an archetype for sustainable climate action in the agriculture industry.


Ecosystem & Land Use Stewardship 


County of Santa Clara & Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (Santa Clara County)
Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan

 Investing in working lands for regional resilience

Led by Santa Clara County and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, the Santa Clara Valley Agriculture Plan (Ag Plan) is a regional effort to conserve Santa Clara Valley’s farmland and ranchland as an innovative climate change mitigation and economic development strategy. The Ag Plan will help cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing conversion of working lands and focusing development in existing urban areas. The Ag Plan also acknowledges working lands as public natural assets, contributing economic and ecological value to the resilience of the region.

Central to the Ag Plan is to identify and map existing agricultural resources in the Santa Clara Valley. It delineates a farm and ranch land base where innovative tools and strategies will prove most effective in stemming urban sprawl and loss of working lands. It is a multipronged effort to protect the environment and economic health of the region as a whole.


Environmental Education


SF Environment’s School Education Program (San Francisco County)
Food to Flowers! School Composting & Recycling Program

 Inspiring students to adopt zero waste practices

The San Francisco Department of the Environment’s School Education Program has been successfully educating and empowering K-12 students for 15 years with their innovative Food to Flowers! School Composting & Recycling Program. The program educates students on zero waste values, spreading its message through engaging school assemblies, training courses for students and staff, after-school presentations, poster contests, multi-lingual signage, a free online curriculum and the dynamic Phoebe the Phoenix mascot

The program not only demonstrates an effective collaboration with the San Francisco schools, it also sponsors field trips to Recology, the district’s resource and recovery company. The School Education Program also consults with other cities across the country and readily shares materials and best practices to support zero waste programs elsewhere. SF USD’s diversion rate – the proportion of waste diverted from landfill to composting and recycling – has increased from 30 percent to 67 percent – an achievement that both the school district and Recology agree is largely due to the success of the Food to Flowers! Education program.


Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities


Moulton Niguel Water District (Orange County)
Developing Innovative, Data-Driven Watershed Solutions

Accelerating innovative and sustainable water solutions

The Moulton Niguel Water District provides water treatment service to more than 170,000 customers in Orange County. Among their many sustainable water initiatives, Moulton Niguel is especially recognized for tackling urban runoff that would otherwise pollute local waterways and sensitive habitats. Moulton Niguel led the OC Stormwater Collaboration, a public-private partnership that voluntarily combats urban runoff through shared data, open communication, environmental education and public outreach.

Moulton Niguel gathered local governments and organizations in support of a Memorandum of Understanding that addressed both inefficient water usage and dry weather runoff. They worked with partners to develop a spatial mapping application that matches household water use with each neighborhood’s urban runoff. Moulton Niguel and Orange County Coastkeeper also launched an education program, which takes middle school students on field trips to explore watersheds and conduct water quality testing to increase environmental stewardship. Moulton Niguel is a model for building public-private partnerships, sharing data and encouraging sustainable water solutions that could be used not only throughout California, but nationwide.

Surplus Service (Alameda County)
Sustainable Zero Waste UpcyclIT® Solutions

Supporting business goals to make electronic waste disposal easy and to make zero waste a priority

Surplus Service is an electronic-waste management business, providing zero waste options for an organization’s e-waste recycling initiatives. Surplus Service UpcyclIT® programs reuse and repurpose electronic parts rather than having them recycled or dumped in a landfill. About 85 percent of what comes into the Surplus Service facility is reused, reducing millions of pounds of toxic e-waste, exceeding municipal zero-waste regulations, and creating a market for the California green economy.

In addition to their UpcyclIT® Solutions, Surplus Service has demonstrated strong community engagement by partnering with local organizations, donating equipment to needy programs and placing a special focus on labor and workforce development for disadvantaged populations. Surplus Service has also incorporated numerous sustainable business practices at their facilities, including water conservation measures, 100 percent solar energy, zero-emission vehicles, and significant internal waste reduction goals. Surplus Service has embedded environmental protection measures in its operations, created meaningful partnerships to reduce e-waste and strengthen California’s economy, while making a positive impact on the community.

Napa Valley Vintners (Napa County)
Napa Green

Supporting the wine industry in soil-to-bottle environmental stewardship.

Napa Green is a comprehensive sustainability certification program for vineyards and wineries in the Napa Valley. The program began in the early 2000’s when Napa Valley Vintners launched a successful effort to certify wineries that developed custom farm plans to protect and restore the Napa River watershed. Building from that framework, Napa Valley Vintners worked with Napa County staff to develop a rigorous, more comprehensive third-party certification.

To be Napa Green certified, wineries must implement more than 100 measures that increase energy and water efficiency, and reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Each winery receives a whole-system integrated audit of energy, water and waste, during which evaluators calculate critical metrics to track continuing improvement. There are now 74 Napa Green Certified wineries – twice as many as there were in 2015. Napa Valley Vintners is instrumental in providing the resources and guidance local vineyards need to operate as sustainably as possible. Through strong partnerships and increasing participation rates, Napa Green is making a meaningful difference in the Napa Valley.


Waste Reduction


Construction & Demolition Recycling Inc. (Los Angeles County)
Commercial Interior Construction & Demolition Debris Recycling

Proving that diverting residual demolition debris is possible and cost effective

Construction & Demolition Recycling Inc. (CDR) is the only construction and demolition recycling facility treating interior debris from commercial buildings as a complete and separate waste stream. CDR targets materials such as commercial carpet, manufactured lumber, and gypsum drywall to prove that diversion can focus on materials that do the most harm when land-filled, not just on the profitable materials. Processing more than 36,000 tons per year and keeping nearly 31,000 tons out of landfill, CDR has pioneered the diversion of what is often considered to be the residual trash at the majority of construction and demolition material recovery facilities.

On top of their standard diversion techniques, CDR salvages and donates more than 6,000 tons of materials a year, on average, to non-profit organizations. The concept of repurposing materials has benefited over 150 organizations in Los Angeles. CDR is a proven asset to the community for its charitable work and its unique business model. It has filled an important void in the recycling industry.

Fetzer Vineyards (Mendocino County)
Pioneering Zero Waste

Decades of leadership towards developing a zero-waste economy for all

Fetzer Vineyards has demonstrated enhanced waste-reduction efforts, expanding on their longstanding commitment to sustainability after receiving GEELA awards in 2003 and 2008. For decades, Fetzer Vineyards worked to decrease impacts to the waste stream and became the first winery in the world certified Zero Waste by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council.

In 2017, Fetzer Vineyards diverted more than 3,000 tons of waste from landfill or incineration to achieve a 98.34 percent diversion rate through recycling, reusing and composting used materials. This was accomplished through waste programs that streamlined the collection of recyclable items during production. Fetzer Vineyards also composts all pomace left over from the winemaking process and later reintroduces these materials into their vineyards as nutrient-rich compost. Employee engagement is also a key ingredient to their success, with break areas featuring recycle bins for food waste and other materials. Fetzer Vineyards is recognized for their ability to reduce material consumption, mitigate negative impacts of solid waste, and create economic benefits for their business and the broader economy.