The 26th annual Acterra Business Environmental Awards ceremony -- which recognizes Bay Area companies and organizations for environmental leadership, sustainability and innovation -- will be held on Thursday at Intuit in Mountain View.
Two of the nine recipients are located in the Palo Alto area: Bon Appétit, a food service company, and Stanford University for its Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI) project. A third, Arkin Tilt Architects, a Berkeley-based project firm, was awarded for its work with clients on Project Green Home, an innovative energy-efficient home in Palo Alto.
"We go around the Bay Area and we look for organizations that are going above and beyond the call of duty in terms of environmental sustainability," said Nicole Angiel, the director of business partnerships at Acterra and the Business Environmental Awards program manager. "They're innovative and doing exceptional things to protect the environment."
Bon Appétit received the highest award, winning the Acterra Award for Sustainability for a large organization. It has led the charge in sustainability in the food-service industry, according to Acterra, and caters to more than 650 locations in 33 states, including local tech companies including LinkedIn and eBay.
"We are very honored and thrilled as a company," said Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit. "There was a lot of competition. There were a lot of really great companies that were awarded and acknowledged by Acterra. We're so honored to be part of that."
Bon Appétit was an early adopter of the use of cage-free eggs, and today it focuses on minimizing food waste with its Imperfectly Delicious Produce initiative, which conserves fruits and vegetables that appear "ugly," such as a crooked carrot, but are still viable.
"We know we have to feed 10 billion people in the year 2050," Bauccio said. "One way to do to that is control waste that happens in agriculture and what we waste in terms of our kitchen. Forty percent of what we grow in our country is wasted food. That's unacceptable to me."
Stanford was recognized under the Environmental Project category for a large organization for its one-of-a-kind energy supply system. By using electricity solely from the grid and a chilled-water system that collects waste heat to repurpose and distribute to the campus, the SESI initiative is projected to reduce carbon emissions on campus by 68 percent and save 15 percent of drinkable water, according to the university website.
"We are excited and pleased to receive the Acterra Award this year for this unique and substantive project at Stanford, which yields so many environmental benefits lasting decades for the campus and leads sustainability by example," Fahmida Ahmed, who is the director at the Office of Sustainability and will accept the award on Stanford's behalf, wrote in an email.
Planning for the project began in 2009, and the system became operational in 2015, replacing a prior energy supply system that relied on fossil fuels. Since switching to the new system, the campus expects to lower its greenhouse gas emissions from 264,000 metric tons in 2013 to 67,000 metric tons.
Arkin Tilt Architects won in the Sustainable Built Environment category for a small organization for their work helping to design Project Green Home, a model environmentally conscious home in Palo Alto. Their clients, Sven Thesen and Kate Kramer, aggressively pursued innovative ideas that required permits from the City of Palo Alto, including implementation of a greywater system that recycles water used in the kitchen sink. A cost-effective, zero-energy home, Project Green Home has given 2,000 tours in the last five years.
"Of course we're thrilled," said Anni Tilt, who founded Arkin Tilt Architects with her husband, David. "Acterra is an amazing organization. We're just impressed with the way they are pushing the envelope forward, pushing the conversation forward in terms of sustainability."
Over 25 businesses and organizations applied for the various awards, which will be distributed at the Thursday reception, where Acterra expects to have 200 to 250 people in attendance. The event is open to the public, but registration for seats filled up days in advance.
Boosted by Silicon Valley's burgeoning tech industry and an increased awareness in energy conservation, the 2016 awards are a far cry from their debut in 1990, according to Angiel.
"Initially some of our first applicants were like, 'Hey, we have recycling bins,'" Angiel said. "Small stuff back in the '90s. The environmental movement has come so far that the new innovations are just mind-blowing."