2017 Awards | Sustainable San Mateo County

2017 Awards

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(note: click the awardees name to read about their contributions)

Ruth Peterson Award:


Beth Bhatnagar is a founding member of Sustainable San Mateo County, and served on the board of directors for over 10 years, including as Secretary for much of that time. As a friend of founders Marcia Pagels and Ruth Peterson, she was involved with the organization right from the start. A reliable leader on the board and legal advisor, Beth made significant financial and in-kind contributions to SSMC over the years and actively participates in our programs.

Beth studied languages and linguistics at Duke; there she met her husband, Raj, whom she married in New Delhi in 1966. She continued her studies at Northwestern University, earning an MA in linguistics studying the transition from ancient Indo-European languages to modern Indian languages while simultaneously having the first of her two sons. She later studied early childhood education at San Francisco State, and law at San Mateo Law School. She speaks Hindi, French, and Russian.

As a “doer” and volunteer, Beth has contributed to many local nonprofits and community activities. She founded A Legal Help Committee for indigent people and seniors and convinced many of her lawyer colleagues to provide free legal services. She currently serves on the board of the Burlingame Music Club and her neighborhood association, and is a trained CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member and organizer of the emergency response team. She has long been and remains a very active board member of the League of Women Voters, and has served as President of the local chapter. In 1995, Beth and 8-9 league members from around the US were selected by US State Department to travel to Russia to interact with Soviet Block women’s groups to conduct workshops on democracy and the importance of grassroots action. Following this, her family hosted some of these women in return visits. Beth served as SSMC’s liaison to the League of Women Voters for several years during which the two organizations co-sponsored a very successful video meeting on Pen TV in 2000 about the electricity crisis.

Sustainability Awards:


Pacifica Beach Coalition (PBC) is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the ocean, coastal habitat and wildlife, and ending litter. PBC began cleaning up one beach in Pacifica and now conducts cleanups at nine San Mateo County beaches, from Daly City to Tunitas Creek. Lynn Adams became a site captain in 2001, and was pro-active and creative from the start. Becoming PBC president in 2007, her enthusiasm, energy and leadership have been at the heart of PBC’s success, expansion, and continued improvement. For example, in 2016 volunteers collected 169,000 cigarette butts. PBC operates with trained site captains who oversee each clean-up day, instruct volunteers, and collect data. Beyond the beaches, PBC has education programs for students and for the general public, and its website,, has a wealth of information available to all. The results are visible improvements to our beaches, improved coastal habitat, and a model of organizing community events that others can follow.


Public parks serve as community recreation and gathering spaces, protect environmental resources and habitats, contribute to the vibrancy and quality of life of the region, and are available to all members of the community. While this alone might be deserving of recognition, the San Mateo County Parks Department has gone much further by making sustainability a core value: incorporating environment (planning and preservation), economic vitality (value of parks to the local economy) and social equity (use of parks by those with limited access). For each park, they have examined transportation / access, conservation of water and energy, general stewardship, cost-saving opportunities, and much more. Improvements to address sea level rise (Coyote Point), adaptation of a former portion of Highway 1 to create a walking / biking trail (Devil’s Slide), and use of fallen redwood trees to make park furniture (Memorial Park) are specific improvements now underway or completed. Under a recent grant, the Department operates a free week-end shuttle bus from East Palo Alto, where car ownership is low, to certain parks. The Department is also actively working to expand “urban mini-parks” within Unincorporated San Mateo County to provide additional opportunities for local residents and visitors to enjoy parks closer to home.


SunWork has created an innovative business model that expands access to the solar energy market. It fills a gap by offering solar installations for nonprofits and for homeowners with low electric bills. These are clients who would not find affordable solar services from traditional installers due to their low energy usage. In San Mateo County, SunWork has installed solar systems for Rebuilding Together Peninsula, Ecumenical Hunger Program, Wildlife Associates, and Catholic Worker House. Among homeowners, SunWork is most economical for those with electric bills less than $100 per month. All installations are done by paid staff and trained volunteers, saving 1/3 in installation cost. Since 2009, SunWork has installed more than 1,900 kilowatts of solar energy.


The six pre-K-8 schools in San Bruno Park School District operate with a limited budget and resources, yet they engage students in activities that teach about caring for the environment, healthy eating, recycling, and composting in a variety of ways, depending on students’ learning levels. The schools collaborate with Recology San Bruno in composting and recycling activities, and Green Teams of older students practice what they’ve learned by helping to educate the younger children. The curriculum has continued to expand, sometimes including more sophisticated topics, such as impact on ocean environments. With 40% Hispanic students, there are many parents who are also English learners, so several of the programs are designed to include these families. This engages more families and reinforces what the children learn at school.

Green Building Awards:

GILEAD 309 VELOCITY • Architect: DES Architects + Engineers; Builder: DPR Construction; Owner: Gilead Sciences

The Gilead 309 Velocity project addresses two of the most pressing Bay Area issues – traffic congestion and drought conditions – with a number of sustainable design strategies:

  • vertical structures that provide more open space and efficient use of the site
  • a highly-effective transit demand management (TDM) plan
  • a commuter bus program to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips
  • 50% reduction in water demand for landscaping with a fully-automated drip system
  • on-site stormwater management with extensive treatment measures.

Instead of impervious surface parking, the campus design of the Gilead 309 Velocity project adopts a more sustainable strategy including a parking structure and stormwater retention and treatment systems. This strategy also created more opportunity for landscaping and outdoor public spaces. The site treats 100% of its on-site stormwater, reducing runoff pollutants by approximately 90%. The project uses smart irrigation controller with weather and leak detection sensors.
Gilead’s partnership with Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance included four stops on the campus and increase usage. In addition, Gilead launched a new commuter bus program to bring over 800 employees to and from the entire campus.

Thank You to our Sponsors

Sustainable San Mateo County would like to acknowledge our generous sponsors, whose support is critical to the success of the Awards program and SSMC’s efforts throughout the year.



Community Sponsors: Brisbane Baylands, David Crabbe Architect, Recology of the Coast, Recology San Bruno/Recology San Mateo County, South San Francisco Scavenger
Neighborhood Sponsors: Community Bank of the Bay, DES Architects + Engineers, Genentech, RethinkWaste/SBWMA, SamTrans
Friends: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 617 (IBEW Local 617), Rosalyn Koo, Pete and Diane Lawrence, Ricki and Doug McGlashan, MidPen Housing, Peninsula Health Care District, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local No. 467, Republic Services, San Mateo County Economic Development Agency (SAMCEDA), Sustainable Home Interior Design
In-Kind Donors: Cuvée Wine Cellars, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, Earl’s Organic Produce, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, Laurie Kretchmar – Content Marketing Place, Don Nolte Photographers, Old County Cellars, Dan Peterson, Katy Rhoades, Jim Walters
Advertisers: Burlingame Citizens Environmental Council, Kaiser Permanente, Peninsula Clean Energy

Thank You to our Honorary Host Committee:

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo; Congresswoman Jackie Speier; Jerry Hill, State Senate; Kevin Mullin, State Assembly; Don Horsley, SM County Board of Supervisors; Dave Pine, SM County Board of Supervisors; Rick DeGolia, Atherton City Council; Charles Stone, Belmont City Council; Doug Kim, Belmont City Council; Helen Fisicaro, Colma City Council; Larry Moody, East Palo Alto City Council; Kirsten Keith, Menlo Park City Council; Cat Carlton, Menlo Park City Council; Ray Mueller, Menlo Park City Council; Sue Digre, Pacifica City Council; Maryann Derwin, Portola Valley Town Council; Joe Goethals, San Mateo City Council; Rick Bonilla, Deputy Mayor, San Mateo; Shelly Masur, Redwood City Council

Thank You to our Awards Committee Volunteers:

Joanne Bruggemann, Molly Cornfield, Nancy Crabbe, Adrienne Etherton, Ricki McGlashan, Sarah Prescott, Katy Rhoades, Robin Rodricks, Afsoon Shahrdar, and Dee Sreedhar.


Sustainability Awards Guidelines and Nomination FormGreen Building Award Guidelines and Nomination FormsPrevious Award Winners

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