Two hundred and twenty sustainability advocates, including business and government leaders, students, teachers, and nonprofit founders filled the beautiful Concord Hilton at the annual Sustainability Awards Gala on October 30th.  

The venue was elegantly decorated with wood centerpieces, fire pits, betta fish swimming in glass vases, floating candles, and orange lights lining the white linens of tables.  Four wineries and a brewery kept the wine and beer flowing, and the small plates from our three caterers, including red snapper ceviche, winter squash risotto, dungenous crab mac and cheese, filled everyone’s appetite. Most guests wandered the silent auction, keeping an eye on their favorite items, which led to a few bidding wars and created a fun, competitive flavor to the event. 

After the guests entered the ballroom, they were served coffee, tea and homemade cookies and watched County Supervisor John Gioia and California State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla hand out awards to the finalist winners for their commendable sustainable services and practices.  Overall, the night was abundant with great conversation, cheerful company, and inspiration to continue to make Contra Costa a greener, healthier, and more sustainable county.

Gala Photos   

 2013 Green Building Award Winners

Sustainability Award Winners

Check out our video "SCOCO Awards - First Five Years"

Lamorinda Sun Article

An Environmental Group that is Proving to be Sustainable
Participation in SCOCO gains steam as outreach grows

By Lou Fancher, Correspondent

Sustainable Contra Costa began in 2007 as a way to fight the destructive forces of big-footprint consumerism. Six years later, the 2013 Sustainability and Green Building Award celebration at the Concord Hilton signaled the Walnut Creek-based nonprofit's growing stature.

More than 200 people, including dignitaries from all over Contra Costa County, gathered Oct. 30 in an outdoor atrium to feast on local fare before honoring this years 10 award winners.

SCOCO President and Founder Tina Neuhausel began the program, saying the idea she and four co-founders had to ensure their children would enjoy a sustainable future planet and had come full circle. Dedicating the evening to longtime Concord school teacher Mary Lou Laubscher, who worked tirelessly to educate the community before her death in 2012, Neuhausel asked the audience to continue actively supporting efforts to protect and preserve the wellbeing of East Bay citizens and the planet.

In an interview, Neuhausel said SCOCO’S biggest accomplishments are greater awareness of the problems and solutions relating to sustainability have come through cooperative partnerships between SCOCO and various individuals and groups. We take a positive, collaborative approach by walking hand-in-hand with other organizations rather than seeing them as competitors, she said. This open-arms approach helps us progress faster.

Just this past year, SCOCO has gathered more than 3,000 action pledges from individuals and families who commit to projects aimed at growing food or saving resources. With the help of local libraries and schools, more than 800 youths have participated in hands-on Operation-Green: Mission Possible projects. And from the living room of five green-minded friends, the organization has built a stable of 60 urban gardeners, educators and activists who discussed urban food production and food justice issues in the first Growing Together symposium in August.

As a local nonprofit with an expansive cause, Neuhausel said raising money is difficult. But money used to help save the planet, she said, is money well spent.

How much cost (to us) is involved if we sacrifice the earth in the name of profitability? Claiming she doesn’t like getting political, Neuhausel nonetheless did so in describing some of the big jobs she sees as lying ahead. People need to stand up to the huge polluting companies that have hijacked our government, she said. Monsanto’s genetically modified crops are destroying the chain of our natural ecosystem and our health. Access to healthy food sources remains limited, and Neuhausel suggested the best recourse may be legislation to stop enabling those who are making a profit from replacing our natural food sources with their genetically modified food crops.

Internally, SCOCO’s best tool to fight nonrenewable energy’s proliferating threat to the environment is its team spirit, she said. With volunteers, a tiny staff and longtime allies like Cindy Gershen (through her Sunrise Bistro and Mt. Diablo High School Sustainable Hospitality students), Sustainable Lafayette, East Bay government representatives and average citizens who use less gasoline, Neuhausel likened the team to a rising tide lifting all boats.

The groups first-ever Green Building honors handed out by County Supervisor John Gioia and California State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla went to an El Sobrante residential remodel, Villa Sobrante; Canyon Constructions commercial remodel of the Moraga Barn in Moraga; and commercial/ government/new construction at San Pablos’ West County Health Center. The three winners salvaged materials for reuse, maximized rainwater capture, followed stringent green building practices and demonstrated respect for their surrounding communities.

The fifth annual Leadership in Sustainability winners were selected from a pool of 35 nominees by a team of 11 judges.

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