2016: The Governor's Economic and Environmental Leadership Award

The Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award is California’s highest environmental honor. The award 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, in partnership with the California Natural Resources Agency; the California Department of Food and Agriculture; the California State Transportation Agency; the California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency; the California Government Operations Agency; the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency; and the California Health and Human Services Agency.

Awards Ceremony Program

Photos from the 2016 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards Ceremony

Photo Credit: TC Clark of CalRecycle 

The recipients of the 2016 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards are:

The 2016 GEELA winners are listed below by category:

Climate Change

  • Atlas Disposal Industries (Sacramento County) for converting food waste into fuel using the nation’s first commercial-scale, anaerobically derived renewable natural gas fueling facility. It was developed in partnership with the city and county of Sacramento and CleanWorld.
  • John L. Sullivan Chevrolet (Placer County) for promoting the sale and adoption of zero emission vehicles through its Electric Vehicle (EV) Program.

Environmental Education

  • Alameda County Waste Management Authority (Alameda County) for its StopWaste environmental education program in Alameda County schools that has reduced food waste, increased recycling and helped save the county more than $1 million.
  • Mount Madonna School (Santa Cruz County) for its Fifth Grade Integrated Curriculum Environmental Project, a comprehensive, curriculum-based program that teaches students about citizenship, community service and environmental issues, helping to create the next generation of environmental stewards.
  • Solano Resource Conservation District (Solano County) for an environmental education program that began as an effort to fill the gap in science and outdoor education faced by local schools and has evolved into a diverse set of programs to educate people of various ages and backgrounds and raise awareness about local environmental issues.

Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities

  • Premier Mushrooms Inc. (Colusa County) for a waste-to-energy process that is converting a local waste stream (walnut shells) into energy to power its mushroom farming operation, bringing the facility closer to its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.
  • City of Long Beach (Los Angeles County) for its downtown development plan that encourages density, transit and pedestrian-oriented development and acts as a catalyst in the creation of sustainable public and private infrastructure.
  • Delta Diablo (Contra Costa County) for implementing water resource recovery solutions that include recycled water, pollution prevention, energy recovery, beneficial reuse of biosolids, street sweeping, and household hazardous waste collection.
  • Earth Friendly Products (Orange County) for producing safe and environmentally friendly cleaning products and instituting a waste-reduction program that has diverted more than 95 percent of waste from landfills since 2010.

Waste Reduction

  • Dignity Health (San Joaquin County) for the St. Joseph’s Medical Center Ecology Program, which has dramatically reduced hospital waste and grows food for local homeless shelters, serving as a model for how hospitals can incorporate sustainable practices into their day-to-day activities.
  • Epicurean Group (Santa Clara County) for reducing waste in its food service operations through waste management, recycling and composting.
  • South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition (Santa Clara County) for its volunteer-led efforts to clean-up and restore Santa Clara County creeks and waterways, resulting in the return of steelhead trout, Chinook salmon and other native species.

The awards were presented for voluntary achievements culminated in 2015. The competition was 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. Applications were deemed ineligible if they were the result of mitigation, litigation, or required by legislation. Those who applied previously were welcome to apply again. The finalists were chosen by a panel of judges that included the Governor’s Office and the secretaries of the California Environmental Protection Agency; the California Natural Resources Agency; the California Department of Food and Agriculture; the California State Transportation Agency; the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency; the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency; and the California Health and Human Services Agency. For any questions regarding next year’s application process, please contact Chona Sarte at Chona.Sarte@calepa.ca.gov or (916) 324-9692.