2016 Award Winners

The CoolCalifornia Small Business Awards Program recognizes California businesses that have made notable, voluntary achievements in reducing their climate impact.

The 13 award winners were selected from competitive applicants representing a variety of business sectors from across the state. These businesses took a number of different actions to save money and become more sustainable while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the steps they took included installing LED lights, solar panels, and energy efficient equipment and appliances; replacing landscape with drought tolerant plants; incentivizing the use of public transportation; purchasing wind power generated electricity; using eco-friendly, recycled/reused/repurposed products; composting food scraps and plant material; and implementing water conservation and zero waste programs. Our winners promote sustainable business practices and environmental stewardship by participating in community events, distributing green tips or articles through their newsletters, speaking at conferences, teaching, using social media, and engaging their employees.

Check out the California Air Resources Board's Press Release on March 16, 2016!

Download the 2016 Program Guide!

Businesses of the Year
Crestwood Healing Center Pleasant Hill
Toole's Garage San Carlos
Climate Leaders
Atrium Ventures Unlimited Santa Maria
Captain Vineyards Moraga
Gaumenkitzel Restaurant Berkeley
Greenbar Craft Distillery Los Angeles
Greenway Partners Arcata
Lafayette Car Wash & Detail Center Lafayette
McCown + Evans LLP San Francisco
Mr. Squeegee Window & Solar Panel Cleaning Modesto
My Conference Essentials Sacramento
The Glass Man Professional Window Washing Company, Inc. Ventura
Uptown Studios Sacramento

Crestwood Healing Center

Visit: http://crestwoodbehavioralhealth.com/location/pleasant-hill/
Business of the Year

Crestwood Healing Center is a medical health services provider that has gone above and beyond to both minimize the company’s environmental impact and serve as a strong sustainability role model for its community.  In addition to creating a Sustainability Coordinator position to help maintain the green practices at its facility, the Center implemented a Green Purchasing Practices policy that requires staff to consider the life cycle impact of each company purchase. Crestwood established an elaborate recycling and composting program and makes an effort to reuse items in creative ways such as decorative window art.  Food services prioritize sustainable purchases including locally grown food and reusable tableware and napkins. The business saved more than $1,000 in 2016 by purchasing reusable cups for $200.  Purchasing cloth napkins saved ~$900.  Crestwood Healing Center also replaced disposable pill containers and water cups with reusable versions. The Center estimates it will avoid sending more than 100,000 paper napkins and 75,000 plastic cups to the landfill this year. These actions not only minimize the company’s environmental impact but also have elicited a positive response from residents. Many residents have even commented on how the use of reusable tableware has given the Center’s food area more of a restaurant feel.In addition to waste mitigation measures, Crestwood has taken a strong stance on water conservation. The business installed water-saving devices such as low-flow toilets, shower heads, and faucet aerators and developed a garden irrigation system which uses only water collected in a rain barrel and from washing fruits and vegetables. In 2016 these changes saved 466,000 gallons of water and resulted in cost savings of nearly $2,000.  Crestwood received a water conservation certificate from the Contra Costa Water District Board for its efforts and was deemed “a model for the surrounding community.”While operational changes have shown to have a significant impact on the company’s carbon footprint, community outreach can spread these efforts to the surrounding community. Crestwood has created a monthly newsletter informing its residents and the neighboring community about its sustainability efforts. This newsletter not only provides detailed information on the strategies they have employed but gives readers statistics on the amount of water saved, waste diverted, energy saved, and cost savings. This information gives readers an inspirational feeling about Crestwood’s business practices and helps readers understand that small changes can have a big impact on the environment and cost savings. Along with the newsletter, Crestwood holds regular staff meetings to go over sustainable practices and shares its successful strategies with partner agencies. Crestwood Healing Center is truly a role model for the surrounding community and will likely spur local sustainable actions for years to come.

Toole's Garage

Visit: http://www.toolesgarage.com/
Business of the Year

Toole’s Garage is a family owned and operated automotive repair facility that specializes in hybrid battery maintenance. Toole’s is a certified California green business and, as a hybrid shop franchise, the shop has access to technologies capable of bringing old unusable batteries back to life. Toole’s is one of the only shops in the Bay Area that conditions batteries to prevent nickel metal halide (NiMH) waste from entering landfills. This service keeps older hybrid vehicles on the road longer and prevents expensive battery replacement costs for customers.While Toole’s already is committed to making a positive impact on the environment by way of supporting electric vehicle usage, the shop also has taken a bold step forward to minimize the impact of its daily business operations. Auto maintenance businesses deal with a lot of paperwork but Toole’s makes a significant effort to reduce internal paper consumption. Customer paperwork can now be completed through electronic forms and email. Following a car check-up, customers are given a detailed report online that outlines all suggested maintenance for their car. This system is not only handy but prevents unnecessary paperwork. Employees have been given tablets for inputting customer information and have a system for holding virtual meeting with their clients. The garage provides a shuttle service for customers using their own Prius fleet. The shop’s scrap metal is regularly picked up for recycling. Staff also implements energy conservation practices such as turning off the air compressor every night, using the blinds to reduce cooling needs, increasing the air conditioning set point from 70 ˚F to 74 ˚F, and reducing the lighting hours. These energy conservation practices alone save Toole’s $100 on monthly electricity costs.The shop also has prioritized facility upgrades that reduce waste and boost energy efficiency. Recent updates include the installation of drought tolerant landscaping and an electric hand-dryer in the restroom. A new reusable water bottle refill station is estimated to save $60 per month in plastic water bottle costs. This year the garage will be making more improvements including replacing all lighting with LEDs and installing a rooftop solar system. It is estimated that these future upgrades will reduce monthly electricity bills by $500. Toole’s is also actively engaged in community outreach. The business held a women’s car care clinic and a Boy Scouts of America certification class, highlighting how smart car choices can reduce GHG emissions. Staff also attended a sustainability event held by San Mateo County to learn how they can engage with the community to promote climate action. The shop also offers its proprietary battery conditioning equipment to other local auto shops to further reduce battery waste being sent to landfills.

Atrium Ventures Unlimited

Visit: http://www.theatriumsantamaria.com/
Climate Leader

Atrium Ventures is a workplace rental provider that offers clients fully-furnished office spaces, conference facilities, social common rooms and more. The workspaces have been designed to minimize their environmental impact and maximize energy efficiency while still looking both professional and stylish. Offices come equipped with solar sky tubes, LED lighting, and occupancy sensors. The building’s older HVAC units have been replaced with high efficiency models and all of the walls have been retrofitted with maximum capacity insulation and dual pane windows. The landscaping has been replaced with drought tolerant plants and a drip irrigation system to reduce water consumption. Through these energy efficiency upgrades, Atrium estimates their utility bills will be 75% less than before the retrofits. Over the next year, Atrium will make even more energy efficient improvements by installing solar panels, tankless water heaters, dual-paned glass entry doors, and additional skylights.  These improvements not only save Atrium money, but the energy efficient facilities also appeal to their customers. Atrium staff always highlights the energy efficient features and, in the process, shows their customers that energy efficient building upgrades can be practical and cost-effective.

Captain Vineyards

Visit: http://www.captainvineyards.com/
Climate Leader

While many visitors rave about the views of Moraga’s majestic hills and bold red wines at Captain Vineyards Winery, the sustainable efforts that go into creating the vineyards’ unique wine experience also are worthy of praise. Through consistent efforts to decrease waste, evident by eight years of certification from Central Contra Costa Sanitary District as a Zero Discharge Operation, the winery has established itself as a true leader of sustainability. Everything that is uprooted from the land is returned. The pruning clippings, skins, seeds and stems of the grapes are composted and 100% of the organic material is recycled in the process. Dry farming and actions taken to recycle water (100% of water used in the cleaning process is recycled) have been acknowledged by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, through the Water Smart Award (received twice in the past eight years).  In addition to its zero-waste initiatives, Captain Vineyards installed solar panels that generate more energy than consumed, replaced the refrigerator and water heater with higher-efficiency devices, and insulated crawl spaces and walls to eradicate the use of air conditioners. This winery also is spreading an appreciation for conservation efforts throughout the local community. The winery has offered classes through Lamorinda’s Department of Parks and Recreation and the 4-H viticulture program, provided internships for high school and college students, and encourages clients to make green choices. Captain Vineyards embodies sustainability through its initiatives and inspires viticulturists and visitors alike to include natural resources conservation in their business operations and lifestyles.

Gaumenkitzel Restaurant

Visit: http://www.gaumenkitzel.net/
Climate Leader

Berkeley-based Gaumenkitzel Restaurant has long been praised for its organic and slow-cooked German cuisine, but the restaurant also is proving to be exceptional in its green business practices. The restaurant is carefully focusing on different areas - energy, waste, water conservation and transportation - to reduce its carbon footprint. To decrease energy consumption, Gaumenkitzel has installed solar panels, purchases wind power generated electricity, uses 70% LED lighting, and refrains from using energy intensive equipment such as freezers or deep fryers. The owners purchased a 15,000-kilowatt photovoltaic system for $40,000 for the restaurant and already are saving more than $400 per month.  They save $30 per month by using an ultra-high efficient water heater and $10 per month by using water-saving faucets. These actions alone conserve up to 1,500 gallons of water per month.  All of Gaumenkitzel’s food waste is collected in green compost bins, all organic produce is delivered in recyclable boxes, and plastic, glass and paper are separated and recycled. In addition to internal green business practices, the owners also bike to work every day and rely solely on this mode of transportation to run errands throughout the day. The commitment shown by this business has been recognized by local media, such as the TV show “Check Please Bay Area,” which discussed Gaumenkitzel’s role as a Certified Bay Area Green Business and the environmentally-conscious approaches the business took to achieve that certification.  This recognition, dedication and distinct approach to addressing food waste is making Gaumenkitzel Restaurant a leader in its industry.

Greenbar Distillery

Visit: https://greenbardistillery.com/
Climate Leader

Greenbar Distillery is iconic in its stance as Los Angeles' first distillery since the Prohibition era, but it has also gaining recognition for housing the largest portfolio of organic spirits within the United States. To achieve its signature line of spirits, Greenbar uses only certified organic ingredients to enhance flavors and to prevent fertilizers or pesticides from contaminating farmland and groundwater. To reduce its carbon footprint, Greenbar installed skylights, switched to LED bulbs through the Commercial Lighting Incentive Program, and learned to cool process systems at work by recycling production water to reduce its energy consumption and increase energy efficiency. By using bottles that are 25% lighter than the average bottle of spirits, 100% post-consumer waste recycled labels with customized water-soluble inks, and avoiding the use of frosting, plastics, and metallic paints, Greenbar is reducing emissions from its manufacturing process. Not only is each bottle of spirits designed to decrease waste, the lightweight bottles also save transportation costs and fuel by decreasing the shipment weight. In addition to a sustainable approach to production, the distillery also has a unique initiative as it plants one tree for every bottle of spirits sold. As a result, more than 500,000+ trees have been planted in the rainforests of Central America, helping local communities with shade for fair trade coffee and cacao crops, while also protecting forest land and acting as a carbon sink by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As Greenbar Distillery proudly states on its website, “Now you can choose not only to drink better, but to drink to a better world.”

Greenway Partners

Visit: http://www.greenwaypartners.net
Climate Leader

Greenway Partners, a private consulting firm in Arcata, works primarily with underserved, rural communities on projects incorporating a sustainable approach to project and construction management, community engagement, infrastructure, recreation and restoration, and energy management. Through each project, Greenway promotes and implements sustainable features, such as energy-efficiency or storm water management, thus spreading its environmentally-conscious efforts and thought processes broadly. In addition to the business’s external influence, Greenway prioritizes waste and energy minimization while increasing conservation efforts in its internal operations. To accomplish these goals, the business retired a low-mileage vehicle, purchased office products containing recycled content, and certified equipment through sustainability and energy efficiency programs (e.g. GreenGuard, ENERGY STAR, and Forest Stewardship Council), installed solar panels, and purchased used office furniture. Greenway adopted company-wide Sustainability Standards that include a water conservation policy, providing non-disposable containers to decrease waste, and using low-VOC products. The incorporation of these actions into business operations has led to a 50% decrease in waste removal costs, an improvement in indoor air quality, and savings on rent costs by decreasing energy use. Greenway Partners’ owners extended their sustainable endeavors outside of the office by playing an integral role in replacing more than an acre of lawn with native plant landscaping. The also hosted a 350.org event to raise awareness of environmental issues and sponsored green building expos.

Lafayette Car Wash

Visit: http://www.lafayettecarwash.com
Climate Leader

For the past 21 years, the Lafayette Car Wash and Detail Center in Contra Costa County has been providing quality, environmentally-conscious car care cleaning services to approximately 80,000 vehicles annually. The family-owned and operated center exemplifies how maintaining green business operations leads to both financial rewards and recognition. By installing motion sensor lighting, CFL bulbs, surge suppressors, and updated vacuum equipment and monitoring devices, Lafayette Car Wash has been able to reduce its PG&E bill by minimizing its electrical consumption.  Efforts to conserve water by increasing the water recycling and reclaim system, installing waterless urinals and low-flow toilets, and watering landscape by hand have paid off. The initiatives and investments demonstrated by this business have led to multiple awards, including the 2014 Environmental Award of Excellence from the City of Lafayette and the Water Smart Business Award from 2015-2017 from East Bay Municipal Utility District. The center’s environmental initiative, however, goes beyond profit and awards. Lafayette Car Wash also educates clients and the public on recycling, water conservation, and environmental stewardship through advertisements, company literature, and signage in its hallway that is seen by more than 60,000 people annually. Through both internal and external operations, Lafayette Car Wash and Detail Center is proving that climate-friendly businesses play an important role in building a sustainable future.

McCown + Evans LLP

Visit: https://mccownevans.com
Climate Leader

McCown & Evans LLP provides legal services and counseling on United States and global immigration law. In addition to the company’s stance in representing immigration needs, it is also becoming a leader in implementing sustainable practices to foster environmental health.  For example, McCown & Evans is committed to only using ENERGY STAR certified equipment, motion sensor energy efficient lighting, 100% green cleaning products, and recycled toner cartridges. The use of recycled cartridges alone has saved between $666 and $3,600 annually!  To incentivize the use of public transportation, the company invests in the Commuter Checks Program and provides staff with $86 per month. The result: 100% participation in the program by staff, eliminating emissions from the collective total of 118,000 miles driven by employees annually. The company encourages clients to participate in Skype conferences and consultations with clients in lieu of driving. These efforts aid McCown & Evans’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save approximately $350,000 in potential fuel costs for the firm. This company uses local services such as JetSet Courier, a bike messenger company, and participates in electronic waste recycling events bi-annually. These achievements were recognized by the Pyramid Center, which awarded the company with the Carbon Footprint Award in 2010. Moreover, the company has earned a reputation as the first immigration boutique law firm to be certified as a San Francisco Green Business. McCown & Evans LLP continues to set the bar high for future sustainability endeavors, aiming to have a paperless office by June 2017.

Mr. Squeegee Window & Solar Panel Cleaning

Climate Leader

Mr. Squeegee Window & Solar Panel Cleaning of Modesto provides window, solar panel, and gutter cleaning services to the central California region. Due to its emphasis on water conservation - using 2 gallons of water or less to clean gutters and 3 gallons of water or less for 99.9% of residential window cleanings - Mr. Squeegee’s cleaning services are unique. When cleaning solar panels, water use is metered; on average, 2 gallons of water or less are used to clean 40 solar panels. Clients on Thumbtack, from whom Mr. Squeegee won an award for best reviews, have taken notice of this business’ water conservation efforts.  Online reviews praise the business when it “did a great job and used a minimal amount of water,” demonstrating that clients appreciate being informed about the business’ environmentally-conscious operations. The Mr. Squeegee business has been invited to speak to the public about its success story and sustainable operations.  A Mr. Squeegee representative spoke to a “Future Leaders of America” group at Joseph A. Gregori High School on how to be a successful small business by finding ways to reduce everyday costs, such as the cost of paper and fuel, by going digital, printing on both sides of the paper, carpooling to work, and ridesharing to job sites.  The business also makes it a practice to unplug office equipment when not in use and use CFL lighting to conserve energy; the office manager also telecommutes, saving between $42 and $35 per month on electric bills and $65 monthly on fuel costs.  As the business noted in its school, “Watch the pennies. The dollars will take care of themselves.”

My Conference Essentials

Visit: http://www.mcecheckin.com
Climate Leader

My Conference Essentials (MCE) is a unique event organization services company that prioritizes waste reduction in all of its business practices.  MCE uses a streamlined paperless check-in and registration system for event hosting that minimizes customer stress and unnecessary paper waste.  Many other conference organizers print a large list of name tags for all people registered prior to an event, but MCE does it differently. MCE uses a system that only prints name tags at the time of check-in and uses the latest ENERGY STAR printers. By mitigating paper and ink waste, MCE estimates it saves customers an average $300 per event. Unnecessary battery waste has been avoided by using rechargeable batteries in all remote-controlled devices.  Following each event a name badge recycling service is provided and badge returns are incentivized with treats.  As an event hosting provider, MCE naturally comes into contact with a large diverse range of people. In that role, MCE takes the opportunity to remind attendees to be environmentally conscious by providing flyers that state “reduce your carbon footprint” and incorporating this message on its business cards. MCE is a great representation of how a small business can effectively integrate sustainable practices into its core operations.

The Glass Man Professional Window Washing Company, Inc.

Visit: http://www.theglassmanwindowwashing.com/
Climate Leader

The Glass Man Professional Window Washing Company, Inc. specializes in environmentally-conscious, professional window, rain gutter and solar panel cleaning services. From business operations to philanthropic efforts, this business is committed to sustainability and conservation. The Glass Man Professional Window Washing Company uses paperless invoicing and estimates, natural soaps to decrease harmful contaminants, and high efficiency LED light bulbs and washing machines. The Glass Man implemented a strict travel schedule that improves both fuel costs and efficiency and has pledged to plant trees. The business is dedicated to water conservation and education, educating everyone from employees and clients to the local Business Network International (BNI) chapter.  The business extends these efforts by supporting One Percent for the Plant for the past six years; 1% of its revenues aid the Ventura Hillside Conservancy, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, and Mountain Restoration Trust. The company’s dedication to fostering environmental health has been acknowledged by media outlets such as Sustainable Ventura News, which highlighted the company’s green operations in a short video. The Glass Man Professional Window Washing Company’s leadership is best described in its own words: “Change does not come quickly, nor in large sweeps, but if we continue to stand up and proclaim that operating with the interest of the environment at the forefront of our minds is key to our existence as a business, our success, and our continued operation, others will follow.” 

Uptown Studios

Visit: http://uptownstudios.net
Climate Leader

Uptown Studios, a Sacramento-based business specializing in services such as marketing, website design, social media management and training, is getting creative not only in its services but also in ways to reduce its carbon footprint. In September 2016, the business relocated to a green building with energy-efficient lighting and appliances as well as low-flow toilets and faucets. In addition to the building’s eco-friendly features, this business team also takes time to discuss new and creative ways to decrease energy consumption, improve on waste reduction, and reduce their carbon footprint. Through these brainstorming sessions, the team has implemented initiatives such as only using glass plates, mugs and cloth towels in the kitchen and encouraging public transit or bike use over vehicle use.  The motivation to be environmentally-conscious is turned into action by the employees!  Uptown Studios is awaiting a bike rack installation in front of the office from the City of Sacramento, which will further accommodate biking employees.  To address waste reduction, Uptown Studios recycles its compost through the Green Restaurants Alliance Sacramento (GRAS). The business worked with GRAS to plant and maintain low-water use plants on its front landscape, using the compost of local restaurants to grow the plants.  Most importantly, Uptown Studios team is using its business operations to encourage clients to live more sustainably by opting for digital alternatives or decreasing print requests.