Upgrade your browser - Unfortunately, this site has updated features that cannot run on this version of Internet Explorer. Download a free upgrade of Internet Explorer.
Discover Story Ideas Details back to story ideas

Taking the Lead in Sustainability

As tourists seek more sustainable ways to travel, here is a list of businesses and organizations across California that are doing their part in offering new innovative ways for people to visit while reducing their carbon footprint.


Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s “Planet 21” Initiative
Fairmont Grand Del Mar is doing its part in green conservation with its “Planet 21” initiative. Situated on 400 acres adjacent to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, the hotel has undergone several practices to lower waste such as installing water irrigation systems across its golf course to reduce water usage; replacing single-use plastics with large format dispensers; repurposing glass into ultra-fine grains of sand for the golf course bunkers; and creating a safe habitat for bees to nest, reproduce and pollinate, among several other efforts. 

“On Purpose” at KSL Resorts
In April, KSL Resorts launched its new sustainability program, “On Purpose,” which focuses on reducing carbon consumption and water usage and eliminating single-use materials by the end of 2023. The program was implemented at nine of its California properties. Highlights include the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, which purchased fuel cells to generate on-site electricity, electric-powered airport shuttle vehicles, and an EDC hot water control system to reduce natural gas consumption, and Vespera Resort on Pismo Beach, which eliminated plastic water bottles and irrigated planters. 

The Steward
The Steward, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel by Marriott, opened in August 2023 in Santa Barbara. The property was originally purchased in the late 1860s by pioneer horticulturist Joseph Sexton, and many of his signature trees and plants are still onsite. Promising to carry on Sexton’s work, the hotel’s green initiatives include no single-use plastics, partnerships with local farms, refillable water bottles and water stations, and staff uniforms made of sustainable and vegan material. Its signature restaurant, Terra, incorporates locally sourced ingredients in seasonally driven menus and uses herbs from its own gardens to enhance the Californian and Mediterranean dishes.

Huttopia Wine Country
Huttopia Wine Country is a nature-focused partnership between Huttopia, a luxury glamping organization, and Six Sigma Ranch and Winery, known for its sustainable practices in winemaking, local meats and miles of trails. Since opening in June, Huttopia’s ecologically friendly approach has created an oasis in an already pristine environment hidden beneath the massive oaks that spread across the Lake County property. Spend a day electric mountain biking on one of Six Sigma’s many trails, tour the ranch and vineyard, and end the night with live music while stargazing under the night sky sans light pollution.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Sustainability sets the foundation for The Ranch at Laguna Beach, a 97-room resort that features a half-acre organic farm and compost program, two Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants, a 3,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor spa, and the only golf course in Laguna Beach. The property also recycles glass bottles into sand for its golf course bunkers, replaced plastic room key cards with biodegradable bamboo, and irrigates with reclaimed water. The resort is a founding member of Beyond Green, a global portfolio of hotels, resorts and lodges exemplifying sustainability leadership. Most recently, the resort launched the OC Tree Collective, a tree-planting initiative designed to reduce carbon emissions, capture water resources and cool local communities. It also achieved the highest level of certification in California’s Green Lodging Program.

Solar-Powered Tenaya Explorer Cabin in Yosemite
Explorer Cabin 41 at Tenaya at Yosemite is a model for renewable energy and the latest example of the resort’s environmental stewardship and commitment to sustainability. Retrofitted with solar panels, Cabin 41 is powered by the sun’s rays, operates completely off the grid, and was designed to withstand all four seasons in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Annual environmental benefit from the solar cabin’s energy savings is estimated to equal two tons of carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gasses from entering the air, using 229 fewer gallons of gas or keeping 88 bags of waste from landfills. 

Napa Valley’s Bardessono Hotel & Spa
Bardessono Hotel & Spa in Napa Valley leaves guests with a renewed curiosity and a sense of purpose, bringing true meaning to mindfully living luxury. The resort is one of 14 LEED Platinum Certified Hotels in the U.S. and one of 85 in the world. Dedicated to building a smarter and more sustainable future, Bardessono’s commitment to green initiatives include an underground geothermal system to heat and cool guest rooms, the spa, and the domestic water supply. The roof is lined with 940 solar panels to meet the hotel’s electrical demand, and occupancy sensors in guest rooms decrease energy consumption when not occupied. With several other efforts engrained across the resort, Bardessono has taken every step to provide guests with an incredible yet thoughtful experience. 

San Francisco’s Historic Presidio Lodgings
Built in 1903 as the home for Army bachelor officers, Inn at the Presidio underwent an environmentally sensitive restoration that transformed the historic structure into Presidio of San Francisco’s first public lodging in 2012. The building was certified LEED Gold® by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2012. The Lodge at the Presidio opened in 2018 and was certified LEED Gold® in 2021. Both properties were rehabilitated under the principles of “adaptive reuse” – minimizing waste by reuse, energy-efficient heating, plumbing, electrical systems and appliances, natural ventilation, and lighting. Recycled jean scraps were also utilized for insulation in the roof and walls. These investments help preserve both the natural and historical aspects that make the properties extraordinary.

Fairmont Century Plaza
Following its $2.5 billion renovation in 2021, Los Angeles’ iconic Fairmont Century Plaza is nothing short of luxurious coupled with sustainable initiatives. The popular hotel eliminated nearly all single-use plastics, implemented wood-based guest key cards, and installed reusable toiletry dispensers. Built to LEED Silver standards, the exterior features a rooftop green area, water-efficient landscaping, state-of-the-art recycling and composting programs. To combat food waste, the hotel partnered with the World Wildlife Fund for its Pacific Coast public-private food waste initiative and installed an ORCA digestive unit that converts leftover food into water waste to reduce its landfill contribution. It also participates in local clothing drives, beach clean-ups and supply donations.

San Luis Obispo’s Carbon Neutral Goal 
In an effort to make San Luis Obispo carbon neutral by 2035, the City has implemented several efforts in support of its Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The "Keys for Trees" initiative takes a portion of hotel taxes from all city properties and allocates funds to planting trees throughout the city with ECOSLO. SLO Car Free promotes visiting the City without a car or by parking upon arrival. Visitors receive special incentives from participating hotels, restaurants, transportation services and attractions. This month, SLO Transit launched the first of eight all-electric buses to serve locals and transit users. 


Electric Vehicle Wine Tour
Enjoy Sonoma and Napa Valley Wine Country the sustainable way in all-electric vehicles with Healdsburg Tours. Choose between Teslas or a Rivian to explore the surrounding wine region. The flexible and fully customizable tours specialize in off-the-grid boutique wineries that guarantee a memorable experience.

EV Chargers at San Pasqual’s Tribal Ballfields
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) partnered with the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians to debut 10 new electric vehicle chargers at tribal ballfields – two of which are ADA-accessible. All chargers are available for use by the public and will remain powered during public safety power shut-offs since they are connected to underground power lines. With the debut of the new EV chargers, San Pasqual officially has more chargers than gas pumps, outnumbering them by two to one. SDG&E installed the chargers as a part of their “Power Your Drive for Parks and Beaches” initiative, which has gone on to install around 3,600 chargers through the San Diego region.

All-Electric "Beach Bug" Shuttle in Pacific Beach
The City of San Diego in partnership with the San Diego Association of Governments has launched “Beach Bug,” an all-electric shuttle that provides a sustainable mode of travel for beachgoers in the Pacific Beach community. By providing access to popular locations, the shuttle service reduces the demand for parking near coastal attractions, increases public transit to the beach, and supports the City’s Climate Action Plan goals. The shuttle is currently free for riders during its first three months of operation.

Pacific Surfliner’s New Charger Locomotive

The new Pacific Surfliner Charger locomotive is the first passenger locomotive to receive the Tier IV emissions certification from the Environmental Protection Agency, making it one of the cleanest diesel-electric passenger locomotives in operation today. Manufactured at Siemens' solar-powered plant in Sacramento, the locomotive now powers the majority of 24 daily Pacific Surfliner trains traveling through Southern California. Almost 90% cleaner than the locomotives they replaced, the Charger locomotives allow the service to meet the growing demand for ridership while providing quieter, more efficient passenger rail service that helps relieve freeway congestion.

Southern California’s Metrolink Goes Green
In February, Metrolink became the first rail agency in the country to power its entire fleet of locomotives by using cleaner burning fuel made from recycled natural fats and vegetable oils. The renewable product contains no petroleum fossil fuels and burns cleaner, reducing harmful pollutants and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide by up to 80%. Metrolink continues to pursue zero-emissions technologies of hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric and views the transition to renewable fuel as a bridge to its zero-emissions future. By reducing locomotive emissions, Metrolink is easing the environmental impacts of climate change and improving air quality for all. 


Providence’s Rooftop Ecosystem
Los Angeles’ award-winning two Michelin Star restaurant, Providence, is home to a thriving rooftop habitat garden that produces fresh herbs and edible flowers but also serves as a bat sanctuary and has Italian honey bee hives. The regenerative hives produce honey utilized on the menu from the zero-waste chocolate program to the zero-waste cocktail program. As a result of its sustainable ethos, Providence earned its first-ever Green Michelin Star in July and was designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. 

Santa Rita Hill’s Pali Wine Co.
Family-owned Pali Wine Co. is a pioneer in sustainable winemaking, committed to standout responsible practices from vine to glass. Situated in California’s Santa Rita Hills, the 50-acre vineyard employs organic farming, no synthetic chemicals, and ensures that the land remains fertile for the future. Achieving 'Sustainable in Practice' certification, Pali Wine Co. utilizes innovative kegged wines, reducing carbon footprint by eliminating the need for single-use glass bottles, labels, and excess packaging. Pali's transition to bi-weekly, hyper-local deliveries using one company-owned truck minimizes emissions.

V. Sattui Winery in Napa Valley
Sattui Winery is a steward of Napa Valley through its sustainable farming practices and conservation efforts. Long-running programs include California Certified Organic Farming and Fish Friendly Farming, leading the winery to convert over 200 acres of estate vineyards to 100% organic farming. The introduction of two new electric tractors will eliminate the use of diesel and save nearly 54 metric tons of CO2 emissions per tractor annually. Visitors will notice a near zero plastic packaging and a water refill station V. Sattui has also implemented an employee ridesharing program that pays for the cost of commuting and by the end of 2023, the winery will become Napa Green Certified.

“As Fresh As it Gets" Program
The San Francisco Peninsula’s dedication to sustainably sourced ingredients, otherwise known as the “As Fresh as it Gets" program, creates a link between residents, visitors, San Mateo County’s farmers, fishermen, and restaurants and hotels that proudly offer its fresh and local goods. The initiative celebrates the region’s abundant farms with a direct connection between farmers and chefs to provide the freshest ingredients to visitors – all within a 20-mile radius. Businesses using Peninsula products are awarded the “As Fresh As It Gets” plaque and window decal letting visitors know they serve truly local products. 


Related Content