Third street
Santa Monica Third street

The Sustainable City Plan sets very aggressive goals for a sustainable city and Santa Monica has received national recognition for its sustainability efforts.  Since 1994, when Santa Monica’s City Council adopted the City’s first Sustainable City Program, the Plan has ensured that Santa Monica can continue to meet its current environmental, economic and social needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. The program has evolved in the fourteen years since its adoption and has been responsible for many positive changes in the community.  These changes include many sustainability best-practices that have reduced the City's reliance on fossil fuels, increased green building practices, increased water and energy efficiency and have enhanced the quality of life for the community residents, businesses and visitors.

To learn more about Santa Monica's best-practices and programs click on the buttons to the left.

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The Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility


The Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) treats urban runoff that would otherwise flow into the Santa Monica Bay. The facility can treat up to 500,000 gallons per day from the Pico-Kenter and Pier Storm Drains, which together account for 90 percent of the city’s total dry weather runoff. SMURFF treats runoff from excessive irrigation, spills, construction sites, pool draining, car washing, the washing down of paved areas, and some initial wet weather runoff. Runoff from these sources previously flowed directly into Santa Monica Bay through City storm drains.

The treatment process at SMURRF includes the following steps:

  • Coarse and fine screening to remove trash, plant material and debris
  • Degritting systems to remove sand and grit
  • Dissolved air flotation (DAF) to remove oil and grease
  • Microfiltration to remove turbidity
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to kill pathogens.

By treating urban runoff during dry weather, the SMURRF reduces the amount of pollutants reaching Santa Monica Bay which improves water quality, benefits aquatic life and beach goers, and reduces the regions need for imported water. Additionally this treated wastewater is used for landscape and toilet flushing in Santa Monica.

Solar Santa Monica promotes the installation of solar panels
Solar Santa Monica

Solar Santa Monica is a city-sponsored program that assists the community in reducing energy usage and reliance on fossil fuels. Now in its third year, the Solar Santa Monica Program educates the Santa Monica community on the benefits of combining solar energy with energy efficiency. The program offers residents and businesses assistance throughout the process of installing solar panels with free services including energy audits, evaluation of potential for rooftop solar installations, and assistance on bids received by solar contractors for rooftop installations.

Solar Santa Monica emphasizes:

  • A free, comprehensive On-Site Solar Assessment with written Report and recommendations.
  • Referrals to specialized solar lenders.
  • Referrals to other specialists such as plumbers, roofers, etc.
  • Assistance with comparing competing bids for solar or efficiency home-upgrade projects.

The program is funded collaboratively by residents, businesses, the City, utilities, the State and Federal government, vendors, installers, and lenders. Although Santa Monica does notpay for solar installations the city waives the solar permit fee and expedites permitting costs. To date, Solar Santa Monica has contributed to doubling residential and business the solar capacity with a total of 139 grid connected solar projects representing 926 kilowatts of capacity.

Farmers' Market
Fresh vegetables at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market
Farmers Market

All four Santa Monica markets are Certified Farmers' Markets (CFMs). The markets are organized and managed by city and support year-round access to fresh, seasonal produce for an estimated 900,000 shoppers every year. The markets host a variety of special and educational events throughout the year. Some of these programs include:

  • The "Lunch with a Chef Program" feauturing weekly cooking demonstrations hosted by chefs from some of the area's finest restaurants.
  • Field trips with local schools. During presentations of market produce, the students have a chance to smell, touch and taste all that the market offers.
  • Seasonal festivals include Cinco de Mayo in May, Melon Mania in July and the All-You-Can-Carry Pumpkin Patch in October.

The Sunday Main Street Farmers’ Market is a zero waste event, providing the community with fresh, locally-grown organic food. There is also a bike valet offered at the market to promote and encourage bicycling as an alternative means of transportation to the market.

main library
Interior of the main library
Main Library

The Santa Monica Main Library Complex has 110,000 feet of building space that houses the library, community meeting rooms, a café, and a parking structure. The library facility was awarded LEED Gold Certification for placing a high priority on health, the environment and resource conservation. The project has achieved a net 42.5% savings from the base case energy budget.Project highlights include:

Project highlights include:

  • Raised access floor and underfloor air distribution to improve energy efficiency and facilitate future adaptation of the space.
  • 200,000 gallon rain water storage system for landscape watering.
  • Significant percentages of recycled content materials (e.g., 100% structural steel and rebar, 70% aluminum framing).
  • High-efficiency HVAC equipment. High performance windows.
  • Direct Digital Control System for HVAC optimization
  • 10kW Photovoltaic system

The savings goal established early in design was to achieve 45% savings in site energy and nearly 60% savings in source energy. The project ultimately achieved a net 42.5% savings from the base case energy budget.

Civic Center parking
Civic Center parking structure
Civic Center Parking

The new LEED® mixed-use Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Structure embodies the City's commitment to proactive sustainability efforts. Santa Monica’s 822 space parking structure became the first building of its type to receive a LEED-certified rating through the U.S. Green Building Council. The building features innovative and unique design strategies, materials, products, and construction practices that preserve natural resources, conserve water and energy, and reduce waste.

The structure's LEED elements include:

  • 213 kW DC photovoltaic panels installed on the roof to provide electricity for the facility and shade cars parked on the top level.
  • Natural light and efficient fluorescent lighting that reflects off white ceiling, to enable lower total lamp wattage for and to minimize light spill in unwanted places.
  • Reclaimed water lines for landscaping and tenant space toilets reduce the demand for potable water.
  • Storm water management runoff water is treated using an on-site filtration device to reduce total suspended solids and phosphorus.
  • Concrete contains locally mined aggregate and recycled flyash.
  • Structural steel contains up to 68% post-industrial recycled content.
  • Recycled glass material.
  • Free bicycle storage lockers promote alternative means of transportation.
  • 14 public electric vehicle parking spaces and electrical outlets.
  • Education signage to increase awareness about the green building elements of the facility.

Learn more about the Civic Center Parking Structure's LEED Scorecard.


City of Santa Monica 2009 Sustainability Showcase Grand Prize Winner

Check out the Alliance’s video series highlighting Santa Monica's Leadership in Sustainability, including the following three videos:

Net Zero Energy from Sustainca on Vimeo.

Net Zero Energy showcases Solar Santa Monica, a city agency serving as a “one-stop shop” for energy efficiency and solar energy information for local residents, businesses and municipal buildings since 2006. The agency provides free technical support to residents and businesses, which has resulted in more than 300 installations generating over 2.5 megawatts (MW) of electricity, moving Santa Monica toward its goal of becoming a net zero energy city.

The Value of Trees from Sustainca on Vimeo.

The Value of Trees spotlights the City of Santa Monica’s urban forestry management and explains how their trees are worth $138 million by their replacement value alone. When environmental benefits are also considered, the Santa Monica urban forest is worth $300 million. These benefits include valuable energy savings through shading, air filtration, reduction of stormwater runoff, carbon sequestration, and more.

A Tale of Two Carrots from Sustainca on Vimeo.

A Tale of Two Carrots features the City of Santa Monica’s Farmers Markets support of sustainable agriculture and local economic development through the voices of local residents, restaurateurs and school children. Eighty-five percent of residents and more than 80 local restaurants patronize the City’s four weekly farmers markets which keeps dollars in the local economy and allows residents an opportunity to obtain produce that uses less fuel for transportation than produce from the grocery store.


Dean Kubani and Brenden McEneaney, representatives from Santa Monica, discuss the City's early adoption of sustainable practices throughout all aspects of local government and their continued sustainability efforts, practices, policies and programs that have already successfully reduced greenhouse gas emissions levels 7% below 1990 levels community-wide.