Institute for Local Government honors the diligence and commitment of city leaders amid numerous COVID-19 challenges

Institute of Local Government logoThe Institute for Local Government (ILG) today recognized 36 California cities that have made measurable achievements in saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the local level amid significant challenges related to the ongoing pandemic.

ILG’s Beacon Program was founded to recognize local efforts in energy efficiency and sustainability. More than ten years later, California cities are not only implementing trusted best practices, but continue to find, test and document promising new policies and programs.

This year’s awards ceremony was held virtually via Zoom and included hundreds of local elected officials and staff members representing the award-winning local agencies. Attendees celebrated the forward thinking, innovative and collaborative efforts of those cities to address climate change. The featured speaker was retired California Senator and sustainability icon, Fran Pavley, who currently serves as the Environmental Policy Director for the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.

ILG established the Beacon Program to create a framework to assist local governments in setting goals, documenting progress and sharing best practices that create healthier, more efficient, vibrant communities. From small projects to large-scale programs, local governments are making great strides to create healthy, sustainable and economically prosperous communities. Currently, 161 cities and counties throughout the state participate in the Beacon Program, and the program continues to grow despite COVID-19.

“The impacts of climate change have never been more apparent than in 2020,” said Erica L. Manuel, CEO and Executive Director of ILG. “From devastating wildfires, to hazardous air quality and the increased public health risks from COVID-19, we have all had to pivot and think critically about what matters most. COVID-19 changed the format of our recognition event, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of our winners or the pride we feel for the hard work they’ve done this year.”

To win a Beacon Spotlight Award, participants are required to demonstrate achievement in one of five areas: Agency Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Community Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Agency Energy Savings, Natural Gas Savings and Sustainability Best Practices. If Spotlight achievements are reached in all five categories, a jurisdiction will win the prestigious Beacon Vanguard award for illustrating a comprehensive approach to adopting policies and programs that foster sustainability and help meet aggressive state climate goals.

A total of 36 cities received recognition in at least one of the five categories this year. Six of those cities also earned a Vanguard Award.

Beacon Vanguard Award winning cities are: Cupertino, Chula Vista, Sacramento, San Diego, Daly City and Pacific Grove.

Beacon Spotlight Award winning cities are:

Arcata, Artesia, Arvin, Bakersfield, Beverly Hills, Coronado, East Palo Alto, El Centro, Goleta, Half Moon Bay, Indio, Mammoth Lakes, Millbrae, Moorpark, Ojai, Palmdale, Paramount,  Salinas, San Leandro, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, San Ramon, Seaside, Signal Hill, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Truckee, Twentynine Palms, Ventura, and Watsonville.

For a complete list of achievements, please visit 

 About the Institute for Local Government

The Institute for Local Government is the nonprofit education and training affiliate of the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the California Special Districts Association. ILG’s mission is to help local government leaders navigate complexity, increase capacity & build trust in their communities. The organization focuses on four key pillars of work – Leadership & Governance, Public Engagement, Sustainability and Civics Education & Workforce — and provides practical and easy-to-use resources on those topics so local agencies can effectively implement policies on the ground.

 The Beacon Program is part of ILG’s Sustainability pillar and is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Gas Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison, under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. Visit for more information.