Sustainability Awards

Sustainability Awards

The nomination deadline for the 2017 Sustainability Awards has passed! Applicants will be notified and Award winners announced in January, and awards will be presented on April 6, 2017 at the Bayview Dining Room at the College of San Mateo.

Jump to: EligibilitySuggested questions to address in your nominationSelection ProcessNomination Form

Ideally the nominee’s work touches on each of the 3 E’s of sustainability – Environmental health, Social Equity and Economic vitality. Each nomination will be evaluated based on how well the nominee’s actions reflect these basic sustainability criteria:

  • Future and long-term oriented
  • Connects ecological and resource limits to business success
  • Regional as well as local in scope
  • Cognizant that everything is interconnected
  • Concerned with creating diverse and balanced communities
  • Inclusive of social equity and well-being
  • Supportive of public involvement in community decisions

Award Eligibility

The only explicit award limitation is that nominee’s work MUST have a local impact within San Mateo County.

  • If a nominee lives outside the County or is based outside the County, but their work for which they are being nominated is inside the County – they are eligible for an Award.
  • If a nominee lives inside the County or is based inside the County, and the impact of their work is inside the county or has positive national or global implications – then they are eligible for an Award.
  • If a nominee lives inside the County, but their work has an impact only outside the county, then they are NOT eligible for an Award.
  • If a nominee has received a Sustainability Award in the past, the Awards Committee may determine that not enough significant improvement has been made. Thus, they MAY NOT be eligible for an Award.

If you wish to nominate a building or campus for a Green Building Award, click here for eligibility and application information. Buildings are generally not likely to be competitive for a Sustainability Award.

Suggested questions to address in your nomination.

  • Not every measure will relate to every nominee. These lists are for your guidance in describing your nominee with respect to sustainability.
  • Please indicate whether you are nominating your entire company/school/organization or a particular program, service, or product for a sustainability award.
  • If you wish to nominate a building or campus for a Green Building Award, the deadline is the same, but the process is different.  Please click here

Business Nominee (Both Large and Small/Medium Categories)


  1. Are the methods and results of your company’s sustainability practices defined, measurable and replicable? How is your business bottom line affected by your sustainability efforts?
  2. How does your work help make San Mateo County more sustainable?


  1. Does your company use fewer toxics and natural resources to produce products as compared to other companies in the same industry?  What steps does your company take to minimize use of toxic substances in products or production process, and to handle them safely?
  2. How does your company adhere to or exceed environmental regulations for your industry?   How is this measured?
  3. Is your company involved in sustainability groups within its industry?


  1. Does your company have internal goals to maintain and improve sustainability?
  2. What are your recycling and waste reduction efforts?
  3. Please describe your company’s energy efficiency measures at your local site in San Mateo County.
  4. Please describe your company’s water conservation measures at your local site.
  5. What does your company do to ensure that your products are effective, durable and safe? Are your company’s products produced in sustainable conditions? How do you track supply chain quality?
  6. Are there sustainability groups within your company?  Who participates, what are the goals, and what have they accomplished?
  7. Does your company provide public transit incentives for your employees, or other means of reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips? Do you have a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program?
  8. Does your company pay a living wage and benefits to all employees?
  9. Does your company have a diverse workforce? Does your company hire, train, and promote at-risk persons from the community as employees? Do you have any internship programs for students from the community?

Education Nominee


  1. What does your school offer in the educational curriculum on environmental, economic and/or social equity topics?
  2. Does the school provide environmental activities for students on a regular basis (i.e. biological exploration, fruit picking, gardening, etc.)?
  3. What activities does the school provide to teach social equity (diversity groups, tolerance groups, community service groups)?
  4. Does the school have tutorial or remediation programs for at-risk students and English language learners?  Please describe these programs.


  1. How does the school recycle, and to what extent are the students involved?  What has been accomplished from these efforts; e.g. more pounds of compostables gathered? Increase in pounds of paper recycled? Etc.
  2. Does the school have an environmental policy administratively, such as commitment to less-toxic products, goals for water conservation, goals for energy efficiency? What have been the measurable outcomes of this policy?
  3. Does it have a specific environmental program (solar school, recycled-content playground)?
  4. Does the school use local or organic food in lunch?  How has this been implemented, and for how long has it been in place?
  5. Does the school promote carpooling or public transit for students? Does the school participate in a community Safe Routes to Schools or other program to reduce traffic?
  6. Is there strong leadership and parent support?
  7. Is there widespread participation in establishing and monitoring its objectives?
  8. How are the methods and results of the nominee’s sustainable practices defined, measurable and replicable?

Non-profit or Government Agency Nominee

  1. How does your organization promote environmental, economic and/or social equity ideals as it provides its services?   How does it make San Mateo County a sustainable place?
  2. What is your organization’s mission and how do your sustainable efforts help you to accomplish the mission?
  3. Does your organization have a minimal environmental footprint resulting from operations (recycling and waste reduction, green building facilities, energy efficiency and water conservation, public transit incentives)?
  4. Does the organization pay a living wage and provide benefits to all employees?
  5. Does your organization have funding mechanisms in place to ensure continuation of programs?
  6. Is there widespread participation in establishing and monitoring organizational objectives? Who is involved – staff? Community members? Others? – and how?
  7. How are the methods and results of the nominee’s sustainable practices defined, measurable and replicable?

Individual Nominee

  1. Please describe the work that the nominee is doing that is sustainable and how it makes San Mateo County a more sustainable place.
  2. Have the nominee’s efforts resulted in toxics reduction, waste reduction, saving habitat, pollution reduction, wildlife protection, environmental equity, environmental purchasing, etc.?
  3. How has this person brought about significant change in the area of social equity (diversity, health, tolerance, community service, education, affordable housing, civil rights, etc.)?
  4. Has the nominee mobilized a larger group of people to take action?
  5. Are the nominee’s efforts resulting in permanent systemic changes?
  6. How does the nominee’s work balance trade-offs between environmental, economic and social concerns?
  7. How are the methods and results of the nominee’s sustainable practices defined, measurable and replicable?

Selection Process

The process of choosing the SSMC winners is designed to be both as fair and transparent as possible. We request submissions from the public for a period of approximately 2 months. The call for submissions is spread through our e-newsletter as well as various local distribution channels.

The voting committee consists of the active volunteer members of the awards committee (the group responsible for organizing the awards event), members of the SSMC Board of Directors, and our Advisors.

After receiving all the submissions completed by the due date, a staff member or volunteer devotes an equal amount of time per applicant gathering additional information from the awards committee, contacting references, and online searches, which can help determine the relative merits of each. This includes whether the nomination has previously received a Sustainability Award, in which case, the awards committee should determine whether significant improvements to warrant an additional award have been made, else a duplicate award will not be given. This information is then distributed to the voting committee for review along with the applicants’ submissions.

The award selection takes place at a designated meeting, which will occur in December 2016 for this cycle. An overview of each candidate will be presented, after which discussion will commence. Then, the preliminary vote will take place, in which each member selects his or her top three choices via secret ballot. Whenever a committee member has a potential conflict of interest (e.g., is connected to a nominee in some way, such as family, investment, etc.), that member must recuse themselves from the vote or will not be able to vote for that nominee. Votes will be tallied by staff. In the case of a tie or no agreed upon winners, further deliberations and additional voting may take place. The contenders with the highest number of final votes will receive an award. All nominees (and nominators) will be notified by mid-January regardless of selection.

Have questions or want help with your nomination? Contact our office at 650.638.2323 or email advocate[at]

Updated 11/21/2016

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