Sustainable San Mateo County (SSMC) was established in 1992 by a group of San Mateo County residents who wanted to build awareness of the need for sustainability. SSMC is a public charity nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status, so your contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

In 1992 Marcia Pagels was inspired by the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to bring together like-minded friends and form the Peninsula Sustainability Project, which later became Sustainable San Mateo County (SSMC). It was the local response to the summit’s call to “Think Globally, Act Locally” and the suggestion that residents monitor their own communities and regions.

After years of community research and workshops, SSMC issued its first “Indicators for a Sustainable San Mateo County” in March 1997 and presented its first Sustainability Awards to honor local community members, businesses and organizations in 1999. Under the direction of Chair Ruth Peterson, SSMC earned 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2002. Its Green Building Task Force, in collaboration with RecycleWorks and the San Mateo County Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIASMC), began issuing Green Building Awards at the annual Awards Dinner in 2003. SSMC continues to partner on these annual awards with AIASMC. In 2020 SSMC awarded Reach Code Awards to local jurisdictions committed to decarbonizing buildings and adding electric vehicle infrastructure.

SSMC began hosting events on high-profile issues in 2000, such as “Saving Green, Building Green,” on new construction options, and “Where Has All the Power Gone?”, which delved into California’s energy crisis. SSMC educated homeowners on home energy efficiency in 2010 with a Energy Ambassador Program, published an in-depth report on senior health in 2013, presented innovative solutions on housing and transportation issues to local City Council members in 2017 and began engaging community members in local sustainability efforts in 2018.

In 2019 SSMC’s Board members decided that climate change and growing inequities in society made it imperative to help local cities accelerate sustainability in San Mateo County. SSMC worked with the Transportation Equity Allied Movement Coalition (TEAMC) in a successful effort to make mass transit more equitable and continues to work with 37 other organizations belonging to the Campaign for Fossil Free Buildings in Silicon Valley in urging local cities to limit natural gas in new construction via Reach Codes. SSMC started the Sustainability Ideas Bank in 2019 to share successful sustainability solutions that have been adopted by cities and companies throughout the U.S. In 2020 we began offering monthly Happy Hours, hosting community discussions with experts on timely sustainability topics. In 2021 we started the Sustainability Dashboard, which tracks sustainability progress in all 20 cities in San Mateo County with key performance indicators.