Sustainability Awards | SSMC

Sustainability Awards

Award Criteria

The work of Sustainability Award winners must address each of the three E’s of sustainability – Environmental Impacts, Social Equity and Economic Vitality. Their work must have a local impact in San Mateo County. They are 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

Past Sustainability Award winners are listed here.

Nominations for 2020 Sustainability Awards are open NOW until December 15, by midnight. 

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 will determine if enough significant improvement has been made to be eligible for a new Award.

Click here for information about the Green Building Award, which honors sustainable buildings.

Selection Criteria

Please click on the heading to view criteria for each category:

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?

Educational Institution 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?

Nomination Form

To fill out and submit the Sustainability Award nomination form, click here.

Selection Process

The process of choosing the SSMC winners is designed to be both as fair and transparent as possible.

The voting committee consists of the active volunteer members of the Awards Committee, members of the SSMC Board of Directors, and our advisers.

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 researching online to help determine the relative merits of each. Consideration is given to whether the nominee has previously received a Sustainability Award, in which case the Awards Committee will determine whether significant improvements have been made to warrant an additional award. Information about each nominee is then distributed to the voting committee for review along with the applicants’ submissions.

Have questions or want help with your nomination? Contact our office at 650.918.1992 or email advocate[at] Please write “Award nomination” in the subject line.


2019 Sustainability Award Winners

Sustainability Award recipients were honored at the 2019 Sustainability Awards Dinner on April 4, 2019. The event was hold at the College of San Mateo, Bayview Dining Room.

Congratulations to our Sustainability Awards winners!

  • TransForm
  • Lime
  • Citizens Environmental Council of Burlingame

Read about this year’s winners

Updated 11/12/2019

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