Orange County Recognizes More Than A Dozen Sustainable Leaders in Southern California at Annual Eco Awards | U.S. Green Building Council
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Recipients represent impressive environmental efforts undertaken by individuals, businesses, non-governmental organizations and schools

Newport Beach, Cali.—(Jan. 2, 2018)—The USGBC Orange County community held its Eco Awards last month, the community’s biggest celebration of sustainability achievements in Orange County, California. The Eco Awards honor accomplishments in sustainability and educate the Orange County public about sustainable places and organizations in the area. This year, the awards recognized 10 individuals, companies, schools and nonprofit organizations across 10 different categories, including seven honorable mentions.

“This year’s Eco Award honorees continue to raise the bar for sustainability in Southern California,” said Brenden McEneaney, USGBC Pacific regional director. “We’re all proud to hail from a part of the country that works so hard to be environmentally sustainable. In that spirit, we’re happy to recognize the hard work and dedication of Orange County’s residents, organizations, schools and businesses that contribute to the greening and resiliency of our cities and communities.”

“It is obvious that there is a high level of passion and dedication with companies, cities and individuals in Orange County to provide healthier, productive and sustainable environments,” said Ray Dapp, USGBC Orange County community project manager. “We congratulate all the award recipients, and look forward to working with every member of the community to promote our common goals and visions.”

Recipients

  • Eco-Leader: Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks. As president and chief executive officer of the family business, Earth Friendly Products, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks has propelled the company to truly embrace the triple bottom line. Earth Friendly Products manufactures cleaning and household products made from natural and sustainable materials in industrial plants powered by renewable energy. Under Vlahakis-Hanks’s leadership, Earth Friendly Products has implemented a rigorous employee engagement program, with one of the highest minimum wage levels in the country, family-focused benefits and continuing education opportunities.

Honorable Mentions for this category include: Dan Heinfeld, president of LPA, Inc.; Salem Afeworki, founder and program director of Value Sustainability; and Walter Schindler, CEO of SAIL Capital and SAIL Global Advisors.

  • Most Sustainable School: Orange Coast College. Located in Costa Mesa, Orange Coast College strives to implement green practices across campus. The school’s on-campus recycling center offers free recycling of most materials, as well as financial incentives to encourage individuals to recycle. The recycling center is pursuing LEED, SITES and TRUE certifications to showcase the role of sustainable design in supporting environmentally responsible activities.

The Honorable Mention for this category is the University of California–Irvine.

  • Most Sustainable Single-Family Residence: Tiniest House. Cody Harrison, founder of the regenerative design and consultancy firm Corona Enterprises, works with like-minded companies to promote healthy food, clean air and water, health and wellness and affordable living. In the spirit of transparency and the desire to share Corona’s work with a broad audience, Cody is building a tiny home to the rigorous environmental standards of the Living Building Challenge, and sharing every aspect of the design online to inspire others and eventually form a community of sustainable tiny homes in environmentally vulnerable locations.

  • Most Sustainable Restaurant/Retail: Cafe Gratitude. This small chain of restaurants serves organic, plant-based food in five locations in the Los Angeles area. The cafés source all of their food locally and support sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly products.

  • Most Sustainable Multi-Family Housing: TCA Architects. Sustainability is a signature value of TCA Architects, which has designed dozens of LEED-certified multi-family residences, including Hanover Olympic in Los Angeles and Boardwalk in Huntington Beach. The company stresses the importance of sustainability education in the design and construction field, and regularly holds training and education sessions to update employees on the latest design innovations and sustainable products.

  • Most Sustainable Non-Governmental Organization: The Environmental Nature Center. A staple in Orange County, the Environmental Nature Center (ENC) has been educating children and families about environmental issues since the 1970s. ENC’s mission is to provide quality education to all ages through hands-on experiences. The Center’s headquarters, based in Newport Beach, was the first building in Orange County to achieve LEED Platinum.

  • Most Sustainable Land Plan, Landscape Design or Open Space: Filtrexx. Filtrexx helps nature regenerate through natural landscaping design and innovation, using renewable, locally recycled organic materials in a patented system based on sound scientific research. As a landscaping company, Filtrexx has created various products used in landscape design, such as the Filtrexx Soxx® technology, created from organic material and used for a variety of retention and stormwater management applications.

  • Most Sustainable Large Company: Cox Communications. Cox Communications has made a commitment to sustainability from the top down and strives to actively support the sustainability efforts of all of the communities where the company has a presence. In 2007, CEO Jim Kennedy launched the company’s sustainability program, Cox Conserves. Cox Conserves Heroes, an awards program created by Cox Enterprises and The Trust for Public Land, has donated nearly $500,000 to local nonprofits, and more than 140 volunteers have been honored from across the country for their work to create, preserve or enhance the shared outdoor places in local communities. Cox also provides grants to nonprofits and encourages employees to adopt sustainable practices such as installing solar arrays at home and taking personal time to engage in community service.

The Honorable Mentions for this category include The Disney Company’s Disneyland and Psomas.

  • Most Sustainable Small- to Mid-Size Company: Earth Friendly Products. Headed up by the Eco-Leader award winner Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, Earth Friendly Products manufacturers cleaning and household products made from natural and sustainable materials in four manufacturing plants across the country. The company has achieved carbon neutrality, water neutrality and Platinum-level zero waste certification at all four of its facilities. Earth Friendly Products has implemented a living wage program for employees and actively engages in socially responsible activities in the surrounding community.
  • Most Sustainable City: The City of Huntington Beach.City of Huntington Beach has miles of pristine coastline and wetlands that attract thousands of visitors, both locals and tourists, each year. To preserve these natural resources, the city has woven sustainability directly into its strategic plan, which includes a dedicated energy and sustainability manager, a city environmental board and a sustainable business certification program for local companies. The city encourages all of its citizens to engage in sustainability efforts, offering energy incentive programs for both commercial businesses and residents. Huntington Beach has also created robust programs to enhance energy efficiency, waste reduction and water conservation across the city.

The Honorable Mention for this category is the City of Irvine.