Beacon Program Celebrates Sustainability & Climate Action Achievements of California Cities

by Institute for Local Government


This year, the Institute for Local Government (ILG) honored 36 California cities that have taken significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, and implement best practices in sustainability. In a year when we’ve responded to a global pandemic, devastating wildfires, social justice demonstrations, economic uncertainty, and more, ILG looks to these communities as examples of cities taking action — despite competing priorities — to make their communities more resilient and vibrant.

ILG’s Beacon Program was created to highlight local agencies that are making meaningful changes to improve sustainability in their communities. The Beacon Program started 11 years ago with just 10 cities. As of 2020, the program supports and recognizes over 160 participating cities and counties setting the standard in California for what it means to be a healthy and vibrant community.

Through their hard work, this year’s award winners reduced over 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent to removing almost 1.1 million cars from the road, powering 866,000 homes for one year. This also equates to about $450 million in public health benefits.

In total, ILG handed out 55 Beacon Spotlight and Vanguard Awards at the October 8 virtual awards ceremony. Cities earned recognition in five Spotlight Award categories, including agency and community greenhouse gas reductions, agency energy and natural gas savings, and sustainability best practices, which provides a framework for taking sustainability action through ten key policy and program areas.

Six cities received the prestigious Beacon Vanguard Award, which recognizes communities that have made significant achievements in all Spotlight Award categories. Notably, the City of Cupertino is only the fourth city in the history of the program to receive a platinum level Beacon Vanguard Award.

  • City of Cupertino: Platinum Beacon Vanguard Award
  • City of Chula Vista: Gold Beacon Vanguard Award
  • City of Sacramento: Gold Beacon Vanguard Award
  • City of San Diego: Gold Beacon Vanguard Award
  • City of Daly City: Silver Beacon Vanguard Award
  • City of Pacific Grove: Silver Beacon Vanguard Award

Congratulations to the 2020 Beacon Vanguard and Spotlight Award winners for your incredible achievements!

2020 Award Winners

Arcata | Artesia | Arvin | Bakersfield | Beverly Hills | Chula Vista | Coronado | Cupertino | Daly City | East Palo Alto | El Centro | Goleta | Half Moon Bay | Indio | Mammoth Lakes | Millbrae | Moorpark | Ojai | Pacific Grove | Palmdale | Paramount | Sacramento | Salinas | San Diego | San Leandro | San Luis Obispo | San Mateo | San Ramon | Seaside Signal Hill | Simi Valley | Thousand Oaks | Truckee | Twentynine Palms | Ventura | Watsonville

To learn more about the 2020 Beacon Program award winners and watch the ceremony recording, visit


By: Nicole Enright, Associate Manager, Institute for Local Government