Santa Monica: A City with a Proven Sustainability History

April 12, 2012

California has long been seen as on the forefront of environmental innovation and sustainability. So it’s not surprising that two out of the nine Siemens Sustainable Community Awards finalist are from California. One of those finalists, Santa Monica, is a finalist in the mid-size community category, and has a long history of implementing innovative sustainable practices.

Santa Monica’s sustainability work began in 1994 when it initiated its first Sustainable City Plan (SCP). The plan has eight areas of focus, all of which are helping to create a path to long-term sustainability success: resource conservation, environmental and public health, transportation, economic development, open space and land use, housing and community education, and civic participation.

The City of Santa Monica also partners with the business community in programs such as “Buy Local” and “Business Greening,” and in an effort called the Santa Monica Alliance, which promotes healthy businesses in the city.  Santa Monica encourages businesses to adopt sustainable practices such as recycling and eliminating plastic bags and non-recyclable materials. 

To bolster its environmental sustainability work, Santa Monica is a founding member of Green Cities California (GCC). GCC is a coalition of 13 local governments that have implemented groundbreaking environmental policies. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption of sustainability policies and programs through collaborative action. GCC policies have resulted in the conversion of over 665 million sheets of paper to 100% recycled content each year which saves 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, almost 80,000 trees, more than 23 million gallons of water and more than 6,600 barrels of oil.

Santa Monica is reaping the rewards of their innovative and comprehensive sustainability programs. To date results include:

  • Solar capacity has more than tripled since the launch of Solar Santa Monica. There are 320 grid-connected solar projects in the city generating over 2,768kW of solar electricity.  This is a daily generation of over 2,100 kilowatt hours.
  • Food composting kept more than three-quarters of a million pounds of food waste from local restaurants out of the landfill.
  • Residents using the Household Hazardous Waste Center kept nearly 100,000 pounds of hazardous materials and almost 19,000 pounds of household batteries out of the landfill.
  • Ninety percent compliance with the ban on non-recyclable plastic take-out food containers resulted in a dramatic reduction of polystyrene on local beaches. 
  • Bike lanes on city streets increased by 11% and the number of people riding to work increased 13%.
  • 73% of the municipal fleet is fueled alternatively.
  • More than 430 businesses have joined the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign and demonstrated their commitment to our local community.
  • More than 4,000 people and 60 community groups took an active role in shaping the future of Santa Monica by participating in the update of the Land Use and Circulation Elements. 
  • An additional 820 people began integrating sustainable practices in the urban environment by participating in the Sustainable Works Community Greening Program bringing the total participants to more than 5,000.

 We’re thrilled to highlight Santa Monica as one of the finalists of this year’s Siemens Sustainable Community Awards. The Awards will be presented at BCLC’s National Conference, which takes place from April 16 – 18 in Atlanta, GA.