Sustainability is an essential part of our Santa Monica lifestyle. Our city is recognized around the world for the role its citizens, government and businesses play in sustainable leadership and practices. As both a participant and messenger, Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau (SMCVB) acknowledges the importance of preserving our natural resources and we are pleased to be part of a community that is a leader in this movement.

With the drought situation worsening, we must all strive even harder to use less of our natural resources. It is important to continually share best practices coupled with sustainability messaging and to embrace our community’s acknowledgements from others. This year, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and National Geographic Traveler recognized SMCVB with a Platinum Adrian Award for “Leadership in Sustainable Tourism” at the 58th annual Adrian Awards, the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competition globally. SMCVB received the honor for its part in creating the Santa Monica Green Business Certification Program, a voluntary program that encourages businesses to implement environmental practices. The program is a collaboration between Sustainable Works, SMCVB, the City of Santa Monica and Chamber of Commerce. As a winner, Santa Monica will be featured as a sustainable destination in an upcoming issue of National Geographic Traveler.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious recognition on behalf of the Green Business Certification Program, its founding partners and all Santa Monica green certified businesses,” said SMCVB CEO/President, Misti Kerns. “The support from our hospitality community has been truly inspiring, allowing us to strengthen Santa Monica’s reputation as a top sustainable destination.”

Since its inception in 2007, 83 businesses in Santa Monica have received their green certification including six hotels, 22 restaurants and attractions such as the Santa Monica Bike Center, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and Santa Monica Museum of Art. SMCVB led the charge by becoming the first office in the city of Santa Monica to receive the Santa Monica Green Business Certification and continues to leverage its communication channels and partnerships to encourage visitors to make more eco-friendly decisions in their daily lives and while visiting our city.

One partnership that has greatly enhanced mobility for visitors and residents alike was forged last May when SMCVB partnered with Santa Monica Free Ride to launch the Santa Monica Shuttle, a free hotel-sponsored service that transports riders to various areas including but not limited to Downtown Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier and beaches, Main Street and Montana Avenue. Since its inception, the service has provided more than 50,000 free, electric, open-air rides for visitors and residents.

“Our 2013 Santa Monica Tourism Economic Impact Study reported that 80 percent of visitors prefer to walk once they’ve arrived in Santa Monica, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. We are committed to continuously looking for new ways that encourage visitors to go car-free,” said Kerns. “It was a natural connection to partner with Santa Monica Free Ride. They have a proven business model that provides a fun, free and eco-friendly service that not only enhances our destination experience, but also helps to reduce environmental impacts to our community and delivers customers to the front door of our local hotels, restaurants, museums and retail businesses.”

On April 16, 2015, Santa Monica Free Ride transported guests to and from the 20th annual Sustainable Quality Awards (SQAs), a special luncheon and awards presentation developed by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the City of Santa Monica and Sustainable Works to identify and recognize businesses in the Santa Monica area that are successfully incorporating sustainable practices. SMCVB was honored to receive a SQA Grand Prize back in 2013 and this year, the hospitality industry’s dedication to sustainability continued to be well represented during the ceremony. Locanda del Lago and Shore Hotel received prestigious SQA Grand Prizes; Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Alchemie Spa received SQA Excellence Awards for Stewardship of the Environment; and Le Meridien Delfina Hotel received an SQA Excellence Award for Social Responsibility.

Locanda del Lago, a Santa Monica staple that has been serving Northern Italian cuisine on the Third Street Promenade for 24 years, is proud to source produce from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, use sustainable and local proteins as much as possible, installed water saving faucets, energy efficient motion sensor lighting and recycles its fryer oil through Further Products, which is turned into soap for local hotels.

“Our motivation is the local Santa Monica community, pride in our business and a love for the environment,” said Megan Heritage, general manager. “Sustainability is the new norm, nothing less can or should be accepted.”

Shore Hotel, a leader in green buildings and in sustainable hotels since its opening in October 2011, was awarded the prestigious LEED Gold certification in 2012. Shore Hotel is dedicated to reducing consumption of resources and the depletion of ecosystem resources while maintaining a luxury experience for its hotel guests and community. The property recently installed an electric vehicle charger in their valet lounge and continues to offer guests advice on all things sustainable and eco-friendly through their Green Concierge Service.

“We are committed to being a green leader in the community and hospitality sector. It is all about making the right choices now and for future generations,” said Jon Farzam, Shore Hotel Vice President.

In the wake of Governor Brown declaring a drought State of Emergency in January, SMCVB held a roundtable for hospitality businesses on what businesses need to do to address the drought. Kimberly O’Cain, sustainability analyst from the City of Santa Monica provided basic steps on how to conserve water and information on the initiatives and rebates available. During the meeting, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel staff shared information on the AquaRecycle system they recently installed in their laundry facilities, which enables the hotel to recycle more than 70 percent of its laundry wastewater and the heat energy contained in it, conserving 4.3 million gallons per year.

“As a Santa Monica Certified Green Business, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is dedicated to supporting a sustainable Santa Monica and strives to be ahead of the game in our energy and water conservation efforts,” said Paul Leclerc, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel Managing Director and SMCVB board member. “I’m thrilled to share that since installing our system in December, we have conserved more than one million gallons of water, surpassing initial estimated projections. We will continue to evaluate each and every opportunity in the hotel in an effort to identify projects that provide significant environmental and financial merit.”

Being green is much easier than Kermit The Frog once sang, especially if you are fortunate enough to live and do business in a city that offers the resources that Santa Monica does. Help Santa Monica remain a beautiful place to live, work and visit and learn how your business can become green certified at www.smgbc.org.

Looking for a Santa Monica-themed gift or apparel? Bring a reusable bag on Earth Day to any one of SMCVB’s the Main Street Visitor Center, Palisades Park Information Kiosk or Third Street Promenade Information Cart and receive a 50 percent discount off your entire purchase. Sale merchandise excluded.

This monthly column is brought to you by Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc., a private, non-profit corporation formed in 1982 and funded by the City of Santa Monica and the Tourism Marketing District to promote Santa Monica as a conference, business and leisure travel destination while providing in-market services to visitors while they are here. To learn more about SMCVB and how you can be a tourist in your own backyard, visit www.santamonica.com, facebook.com/visitsantamonica, twitter.com/gosantamonica, instagram.com/seesantamonica and pinterest.com/lovesantamonica.

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