About SSMC

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. Our core programs are the Indicators Report, which has been produced annually since 1997; the Pathways Report, now in progress, which will summarize sustainability insights from local experts and data trends from the past 20 years; and the Awards Event, which has been held annually since 1999. In addition, SSMC engages regularly with a broad range of stakeholders including: cities and local governments, the business community, other non-profits and academia to advance a variety of projects, programs and other efforts that are consistent with the organization’s vision and mission.

We welcome your contributions of talent, energy and funding to help make local communities and our county more sustainable. Check the video below, featuring former long-time Executive Director Adrienne Etherton, to learn more about SSMC!

A sustainable future for everyone in San Mateo County.

To drive impactful action on economic, environmental and social equity issues that leads to sustainable practices and improves the long-term health of San Mateo County.

Fact-based Objectivity
Integrity and Transparency
Intentional Collaboration
Local and Regional Impact-focused


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. 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.

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 of the American Institute of Architects, began issuing Green Building Awards at the annual Awards Dinner in 2003.

SSMC’s other key achievements include:

  • The Green Dollhouse Project, a competition designed to show how to make homes healthier and more environmentally sustainable, which SSMC developed with Coyote Point Museum, Eco Design Resources and RecycleWorks. It won the 2006 EPA Environmental Achievement Award.
  • An online resource toolkit for San Mateo County called the Sustainability Hub that SSMC launched in 2009. It allowed community members to share solutions and location resources and debuted the first Bay Area Green Jobs Board.
  • An Energy Ambassador Program that educated homeowners on home energy efficiency in 2010.
  • A series of Healthy Communities forums held from 2011 to 2013 in partnership with the Sierra Club’s Loma Prieta Chapter.
  • A 109-page report published in 2013 with research partner Ecologic Institute called “Senior Health in San Mateo County – Current Status and Future Trends.”
  • Presenting the Indicators Reports in a searchable, mobile-friendly format with more emphasis on timely and actionable data.
  • Offering innovative solutions to housing and transportation issues to a large group of local City Council members at a San Mateo County Council of Cities forum during the summer of 2017.
  • Hosting a program called “Mobilize Your Community to Solve Climate Change” in June 2018 at which four speakers presented specific suggestions for engaging community members in sustainability efforts.
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