The honorees at Sustainable Contra Costa’s annual awards gala October 15th are proof that each of us can take successful action to create a brighter future for our communities.

Click here for photos from the gala.

More than a dozen Contra Costa County nonprofits, businesses, community groups, educators and individuals were honored for their efforts toward sustainability at the 6th Annual Contra Costa Leadership in Sustainability and Green Building Awards Gala held at the Hilton Concord.

From high school students developing their own recycling and waste reduction programs, to businesses making decisions based on sustainability and the environment, to nonprofit groups planting trees and growing gardens, the range of programs and actions taken by the winners provided inspiration and proof that any action we take can make a difference.

The Leadership in Sustainability award winners were: Lynda Deschambault – Individual; The Watershed Project – Nonprofit; Advanced Home Energy – Small Business; Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority (Tri-Delta Transit) – Government; Pittsburg High School-Green Campus Challenge – Educational Institutions and Programs; Nutiva – Large Business.

The Green Building awardees were: Hilton Concord – Commercial Remodel; Lafayette Library & Learning Center – Government; Lafayette Ecohouse – Residential Remodel.

Gala guests enjoyed steel drum music, a silent auction and food and wine provided by Plate and Vine, Sunrise Bistro, Corners Tavern, Black Diamond Brewery, Mt. Diablo High School's Sustainable Hospitality Program, Captain Vineyards, Vincenza Ranch, Viano and Bullfrog Creek Vineyards, followed by the presentation of awards.
For the first time, guests also participated in the new Seeds of Sustainability Change People’s Choice Award, where they voted for their favorite nonprofit nominee for the chance to win a $500 grant from Sustainable Contra Costa (SCOCO). The winner was Contra Costa County Climate Leaders (4CL), a nonprofit focused on helping local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Event host John Sasaki of KTVU News and award presenters state Senator Mark DeSaulnier and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia shared their own stories on sustainability and entertained the crowd with their humor.

Sasaki shared one of his favorite quotes: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” “It’s the little things altogether that add up. The more we can get people to save on water, on gas, on electricity, the better off we are as a society,” he said.

Prior to award distribution, SCOCO president Tina Neuhausel commented on the caliber of this year’s nominees. “We have a fantastic group of nominees who all really deserve to be recognized and celebrated for their work.”

Moraga resident Lynda Deschambault was recognized for her expertise and leadership in promoting sustainability in the county. She is the co-founder of Generation Green, a nonprofit that uses workshops, outreach and events to
inspire residents, business and government to be more sustainable. She also is the founder and president of Contra Costa County Climate Leaders (4CL), which encourages all 19 Contra Costa County cities to coordinate, share and implement best practices for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Richmond’s The Watershed Project is working to “green” the city’s watersheds through the planting of hundreds of trees and the creation of rain gardens and bioswales to manage storm run-off. Much of the work is being done by a group of young men who have also become environmental ambassadors and educators in the community.

Advanced Home Energy was recognized for its work helping residents, commercial buildings and businesses create more energy efficient, healthier and comfortable environments and for its expertise in providing assistance with the energy savings rebate process to save an average of 30% per energy upgrade.

Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority (Tri-Delta Transit) received an award for their continuous work toward greener solutions in transportation and creating a more sustainable community. Most recently the agency was
chosen to implement an Environmental Management System that will aid in energy conservation, more efficient water use, a reduction of emissions and hazardous material management.
Pittsburg High School’s Green Campus Challenge is emblematic of what one individual can start and a small group can accomplish. Since 2012 the Green Campus Challenge – a friendly competition between classes – has
promoted sustainability by reducing, recycling and reusing, and has resulted in the collection of more than 5,000 pounds of recyclables. The program is both helping the environment today and educating students on ways to
incorporate sustainability into their lives at school, at home and in their futures.

Richmond-based Nutiva has made zero waste and energy and water efficiency a priority at their facilities. California Green Business certified, the company has installed a host of energy efficiency measures and has established a waste diversion rate of nearly 90%. The company donates 1% of sales to support local sustainable agriculture and communities and to encourage suppliers to adopt sustainable practices. Nutiva also supports global tree-planting projects and plans to help plant 10 to 15 trees in each of Richmond’s schools in the next few years.

Commercial Remodel Green Building winner Hilton Concord is a local and national leader in “green” practices, resource conservation and sustainability for the hospitality industry. In a recent multi-million dollar remodel, the hotel focused on high efficiency systems; water, electrical and gas conservation; expanded recycling; waste diversion; and greater use of sustainable foods and materials.

The Lafayette Library & Learning Center was recognized for the environmentally friendly and sustainable features incorporated into its new building. These include enhanced natural light, thermal windows, solar, waste diversion, “green” materials, high-efficiency irrigation and low water landscaping.

The Lafayette Ecohouse owned by Al and Karen Maggio was remodeled into the “sustainable California Dream of the future.” The home includes non-toxic, reclaimed, recycled and renewable materials; heat-reflective roofing; water conservation techniques such as rain barrels; drought tolerant landscaping; and Energy Star appliances and exterior lighting.

The six Leadership in Sustainability winners were chosen from an inspiring list of 28 nominees in the seven categories. They were recognized for their outstanding leadership and commitment to sustainable practices and
for serving as a role model to inspire others to build healthy, resilient communities.

The three Green Building awardees were chosen from a total of six nominees in the three categories. They were recognized for their outstanding leadership and commitment to building efficient, healthy and resilient buildings and communities.

As the only fundraiser of the year supporting Sustainable Contra Costa's many educational programs, the gala also offered guests the chance to bid on a host of fabulous items, including yoga, kayaking, cooking classes, tango
lessons, luxury hotel stays, home gardening guidance and products, wine tasting events, water filtration, and massage among many others.

--Kathy Schermerhorn

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