City, university wharf partnership earns Silicon Valley award

Along with solar photovoltaic panels, this wind turbine charges the batteries of the whart's electric maintenance vehicle.

The GreenWharf Initiative, a partnership between the City of Santa Cruz and UC Santa Cruz, earned recognition from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

The GreenWharf Initiative was awarded the Sustainable Green Development award in the small city category. The award highlights programs that “target and create a positive relationship between economic development and environmental sustainability.”

“We are very proud of the work of the city and university to green our wharf,” said Mayor Cynthia Chase. “We appreciate the recognition and look forward to future innovation.”

The recognition was part of the SVLG’s “Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet” awards, which recognize outstanding work in promoting economic competitiveness and business development that creates jobs, strengthens partnerships, and has a positive impact on the economy.

The GreenWharf is a suite of collaborative projects that together minimize the footprint of wharf operations on the surrounding environment while enhancing its appeal as a visitor destination.

The following GreenWharf projects have significantly raised public attention to the environmental and economic benefits of the partnership:

  • Installation of a renewable energy testbed with solar photovoltaic panels and the first wind turbine to be permitted by the Coastal Commission off the coast of California, together powering the batteries of the whart’s electric maintenance vehicle.
  • Launch of a free EcoTour mobile phone app and live docent-led tours on summer weekends that highlight the wharf’s environmental protection efforts and research.
  • Upgrade of all street and pedestrian lighting to LED technology and installation of a novel solar streetlamp pilot project.
  • Installation of the first electric vehicle charging station on the wharf.
  • Installation of cigarette butt and discarded fishing line receptacles for wildlife protection.
  • Green certification of seven Wharf businesses and Wharf Headquarters through the “Green Business Challenge.”
  • Academic research on marine wildlife, energy, and solid waste handling.
  • Retrofit of 50 trashcans with custom bird-proof and water-proof recycle tops as well as decals featuring high quality underwater species graphics and a call to action to protect them.
  • Educational events, interpretive signs and exhibits, internships, field trips, and press conferences to highlight the success of the GreenWharf efforts and encourage public participation.