Contributing Monkie Jennifer Buonantony
Published on November 2, 2009
Is the city famous for its smog and its blockbusters ready to take the “LEED” in an industry other than entertainment?
Judging by the November approval of a new “green building program” by the Los Angeles Planning Commission, Los Angeles will become one of the most ambitiously green cities in the nation. The commission approved a policy that will require large new developments to be 15% more energy efficient and aims to significantly cut the city’s green house gas emissions. New construction with more than 50 units or 50,000 square feet would be required to meet the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards set out by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The result would reduce the amount of energy used in new developments below those under California’s current building codes, which are already the strictest in the nation.
In Los Angeles, vehicle emissions are regulated by the federal government, as are power plants another major source of greenhouses gases because Los Angeles, unlike other cities, owns its own utilities. So, for LA, it’s even more important for the local government to regulate emissions whenever possible. In a city where new construction seems to be on every corner, that means regulating new development.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is among 720 mayors nationwide who have pledged to support the international treaty to counter global warming known as the Kyoto Protocol – in spite of the Bush Administration’s lack of support. “ In the city with the dirtiest air in America, reducing our carbon footprint is not a luxury but an absolute necessity,” says the mayor. “Green building may be the most significant thing we can do.” Villaraigosa has pledged to lower Los Angeles’ greenhouse emissions 35% by 2030.
So, it seems that large development is on the right track. But what about small commercial space and residential development that is constantly on the rise?
The proposal also includes establishing a “green team” of experts, including the departments of Planning, Building and Safety, and Water and Power to allow building codes for single-family homes and small businesses to meet environmental standards. These plans include incorporating high efficiency heating and cooling systems, solar energy panels, toilets and shower heads with reduced water usage, improved landscape irrigation, and recycling waste from demolition and new construction.
Although developers fear added expenses in construction and a rise in home and commercial prices, being environmentally friendly may also end up being cost-efficient. Incentives have been proposed to expedite building permits for developers who meet and surpass the LEED qualifications, saving both time (2 months to a year) and money.
If Los Angeles embraces these new proposals, it will end up leading the nation in green building. Now that’s a blockbuster worth seeing…