LA Requires Developers to Build Green

Taking action to combat climate change in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the Private Sector Green Building Plan into law setting Los Angeles, Calif., on course to cut carbon emissions by more than 80,000 tons by 2012.

Developed by the Mayor's Office in partnership with City Council, the ordinance will create a series of requirements and incentives for developers to meet the US Green Building Council's standards – the country's strictest environmental building standards.

"Our city is growing fast and growing up, and we're holding the private sector accountable to their commitment to be friends to our environment," Villaraigosa said. "Already the city of Los Angeles has the largest, most aggressive municipal green building plan of any large city in America. Now it's time for green building to go private."

The ordinance will require all projects at or above 50,000 square feet – or 50 units – to comply with the general Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified standard. In exchange, the city will work with builders to speed up approvals and to remove obstacles in the municipal code for elements of sustainable building design, such as green rooftops, cisterns, and permeable pavement.

If a builder commits to pursuing silver accreditation, the city will add expedited processing through the Planning and Public Works Departments.

In addition to direct incentives, the mayor's initiative will require the city to train case managers as LEED-accredited professionals and will create one-stop checklists of all available city incentives to guide developers through the green building process. A new cross-departmental Sustainability Team will also be created under the program, generating an unprecedented forum between developers and city staff to address issues arising on both a project basis and a policy level.

"Given that greenhouse gas emissions from buildings account for more than 40 percent of global warming pollution, the Los Angeles Green Building ordinance is a good first step toward building an energy-efficient, climate friendly sustainable city," said Global Green USA President Matt Petersen. "While certainly not an end destination, it is important that Los Angeles has become the first big city to codify a private-sector green building program."

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