2011: The Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award Program

GEELA LogoThe Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award Program is California’s highest environmental honor. The program recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the State’s economy.

The annual Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award Program is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Agency, in partnership with the Department of Food and Agriculture, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, the State and Consumer Services Agency, Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the Health and Human Services Agency.

The 2011 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards Ceremony took place on December 13, 2011. Congratulations to this year’s GEELA Winners!

Who May Apply/Eligibility | Categories | Selection | How to Apply

Who May Apply/Eligibility

The awards will be presented for voluntary achievements culminated in 2010. Competition is open to all California residents, businesses, non-profit organizations, professional and trade associations, communities, state and local government entities, tribes, and federal agencies operating in California. Projects are deemed ineligible if they are the result of mitigation, litigation, or required by legislation. Those who applied previously are welcome to apply again.

Award Categories

  • Children’s Environmental Education
    Unique and exemplary educational programs that 1) are supported with written, academic standards-aligned curricula and 2) raise children’s awareness of, and involvement in, environmental issues. Applicants must submit standards-aligned curriculum materials and/or delineate web-based, standards-aligned curriculum materials.
  • Climate Change
    Innovative and forward thinking projects/programs that 1) reduce/mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapt to the adverse effects of climate change on public health and our vast natural resources; and 2) provide economic and business-related benefits. Preference will be given to recipients of the CoolCalifornia.org Small Business Award.
  • Comprehensive Land Use Planning
    A comprehensive plan that demonstrates social equity and adequate housing; cost-effective infrastructure and transportation; water and energy efficiencies, and open space conservation to protect forests, agriculture, watersheds and other ecosystem values.
  • Ecosystem And Watershed Stewardship
    Innovative and sustainable approaches to land, water and resource management that restore or protect natural conditions, functions and processes, and provide economic, social and environmental benefits including productivity and sustainability of forests, farms or other natural resource lands, or conservation of open spaces.
  • Enhanced Environmental and Economic Leadership
    Prior GEELA award recipients who have sustained exceptional leadership and can demonstrate significant and robust improvements in voluntary efforts previously recognized, which conserve California’s precious resources, protect and enhance our environment and/or strengthen the economy.
  • Environmental and Economic Partnerships
    Efforts that foster unique, cooperative and collaborative approaches between the private, public, and/or non-profit sectors to achieve demonstrable results in both environmental and economic improvement.
  • Environmental Justice
    Exemplary grass-roots efforts that foster unique, innovative, and forward-thinking cooperative and collaborative approaches between the non-profit and public (and/or private) sectors to achieve both environmental and economic improvement in geographic areas adversely affected by environmental pollution and hazards. Demonstrates significant and robust improvements in local grassroots voluntary efforts to address disproportionate environmental impacts and produces environmental, economic, and social benefits that lead to a cleaner, healthier California environment.
  • Green Chemistry (Safer Consumer Products)
    Innovative development and marketing of safer, healthier, more environmentally benign consumer products and/or consumer product lines, with demonstrated benefits to human health and the environment stemming from reduced hazard of chemical components and processes, and adoption of a product lifecycle perspective that incorporates enhanced opportunities to reuse, recycle, treat, and/or properly dispose of chemical components.
  • Sustainable Communities
    Examples of completed or underway projects that display effective project design or development of local communities and landscapes that make efficient use of land; include multimodal transportation options and connectivity; improve economic vitality, and the availability of affordability of housing; protect public health and safety; optimize energy efficiency; and conserve local watersheds, habitats and other sensitive lands.
  • Sustainable Practices or Facilities
    Pioneering efforts to integrate environmental values and conservation of natural resources into comprehensive, long-term decision making and management of businesses and facilities.
  • Technological and Market Innovation
    Innovation in product or process design, manufacturing or product marketing to cost-effectively improve environmental and public health, including products or processes that provide deep energy efficiency, new renewable and clean distributed energy generation, innovative energy storage, and/or low-/zero-emission vehicles.
  • Waste Reduction
    Exemplary achievements in conserving and protecting natural resources and reducing costs by incorporating efforts such as waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting, environmentally-preferable purchasing, and product design and stewardship. Preference will be given to previous Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) certificate recipients.


A Selection Committee will evaluate applications for strength in eight specific areas: Results, Transferability/Scalability, Environmental Impact, Resource Conservation Impact, Economic Progress, Innovation/Uniqueness, Pollution Prevention, Public Health, and Environmental Justice. These criteria will be considered in the competitive weighting of nominations and are described below. Evaluations will take into consideration differences in size, region, and scope of projects, as needed.

  • Results: Steps taken to achieve results are described; results are defined in measurable terms; environmental and economic benefits are identified and documented.
  • Transferability/Scalability: Project concept can be scaled and/or transferred to other parties such that impact (or could have potential impact) on State environmental and economic goals is measurable and significant.
  • Environmental/Resource Conservation Impact: Accomplishment includes more than one environmental media or resource; project or program has long lasting and sustainable impact; magnitude of impact is described and significant.
  • Economic Progress: California’s economy is enhanced; measurable benefits are identified and realized; new/better jobs are created and new markets developed.
  • Innovation/Uniqueness: Demonstrates basic practice to unique, innovative practice; a paradigm shift in approach; demonstrates a “pioneer” spirit; ahead of the marketplace and profitability.
  • Pollution Prevention: Achieves measurable reductions in the generation of waste through source reduction; increased public-private awareness of pollution prevention; exemplifies best practices with a cross-media focus.
  • Public Health: Achieves measurable improvements to community environments (social, economic, physical, and services) that result in tangible benefits to public health.
  • Environmental Justice: Significantly raises the awareness and addresses environmental issues in areas adversely affected by environmental pollution and hazards; builds and/or raises the involvement of local/grassroots communities and/or California tribal communities in the project or program; builds community leadership/stewardship to address environmental issues.

The deliberative process of the Selection Committee is confidential and all decisions are final subject to applicable California state law. A nomination may be considered in a category different from that in which it is nominated.

How to Apply

Anyone wishing to apply for, or nominate an individual, organization, or business, for a 2011 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award must complete an application by Friday, July 1, 2011. Please document your answers in advance and then copy and paste them into the online application.

Due to delays in posting the award category description, the application deadline for the Green Chemistry category has been extended to Friday, August 12, 2011, 5:00 p.m. The application deadline for the Environmental Justice category has also been extended to Friday, August 12, 2011, 5:00 p.m. PLEASE NOTE: We are no longer accepting applications submitted under the remaining categories.

View award winners and sponsors in other years.

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