What began seven years ago as a vision by a few volunteers to raise public interest around local sustainability issues, has grown into a county-wide, green social network that provides information and resources to thousands looking to put sustainability into practice at home, at work and in their neighborhoods.

On September 23, Sustainable Contra Costa (SCOCO) brought people together once again for its seventh annual Contra Costa Leadership in Sustainability and Green Building Awards gala at the Concord Hilton. Part fundraiser, part community celebration, the event paid tribute to local champions who have made outstanding contributions to sustainability this year. Over 250 guests were in attendance, including County Supervisors Candace Anderson, John Gioia and Mary Piepho, to honor and recognize this year’s honorees and winners.A silent auction and patio reception hosted by Plate and Vine Restaurant, Yalla Mediterranean, and students from Mt. Diablo High School’s very own Sustainable Hospitality Pathway program kicked off the evening, while Stephen Herrick’s Jazz Ho8095759879?profile=originalrizons provided live music.

Leadership awards were given in five categories: Sustainable Communities, Food System Innovation, Sustainable Resource Management, Green Building and youth service. An inspiring pool of talent and creativity from all over the county made up the list of nominees. Master of ceremonies John Sasaki of KTVU News hosted the presentation of awards and inspired the guests with remarks about the importance of individual action for a sustainable future.

Among the winners for Sustainable Communities, were two local schools in Pittsburg and El Cerrito. Under the leadership of Tom Edwards of Martin Luther King Junior High School in Pittsburg, students launched the Ocean Plastic Pollution project to reduce the use of plastic water bottles, while Fairmont Elementary School in El Cerrito won a leadership award for introducing the school district’s first-ever composting program.

8095759701?profile=original4CL, which stands for Contra Costa County Climate Leaders, took home an award for their work with policymakers to find solutions to local, environmental issues. Environmental advocate and teacher, Sheila Hill, received an award for her ongoing work in the Sustainable Schools program, the Wellness City Challenge, Generation Green, and Parents for a Safer Environment.

White Pony Express was this year’s winner in Food System Innovation for their all-volunteer organization dedicated to relieving hunger in Contra Costa County. Though not quite two years old, this local nonprofit has already made an impact, delivering 1.7 million pounds of food and more than 70,000 items of new and lightly used clothing, toys and books to people in need.

The award in Sustainable Resource Management went to the Markham Regional Arboretum Society, a local horticulture leader. Community engagement is the beating heart of this organization and the group has been educating the public in chemical-free, sustainable gardening since 1981.

The awards ceremony was capped off with a tribute to SCOCO’s young Rising Stars. Brian Wong of Alhambra High School in Martinez and an Eagle Scout with Troop 282 and Marco Conci a freshman at Monte Vista High School in Danville and an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 36 both received awards for their environmental and wildlife projects on Mt. Wanda and San Ramon Valley Creek, respectively.8095760652?profile=original

Three outstanding Green Building projects were recognized this year. Woodbury, Lafayette’s newest eco-friendly residential complex, the Milovic residence in Lafayette and Orinda’s Old Yellow House all received awards for their numerous sustainable features.

For the full list of winners, and information about them, click here.

In addition, SCOCO’s visionary partner, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, announced their Pollution Prevention Awards to four local business groups for their exceptional efforts to minimize water pollution and protect the environment; Concord’s Army Reserve Center, Audi Concord, Julie Lee DDS of Walnut Creek and Republic Services Recycling of Pacheco were this year’s winners.

8095760286?profile=originalFinally, guests at the awards gala visited colorful displays and got a chance to cast their own vote for SCOCO’s annual Seeds of Change Award. This year’s winner was the Global Student Embassy based in Berkeley for their innovative work in creating international, service-learning exchanges for youth that focus on the environment and sustainability.

To find out more about Sustainable Contra Costa, including their new Sustainable Living Workshop Series and upcoming Certified Sustainability Advisors Program, you can visit www.sustainablecoco.org.

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