Los Angeles embarked on one of its most ambitious projects to combat global warming on Monday, becoming the biggest city in the nation to impose “green” building rules that would potentially cut millions of tons of pollution over the next decade.
In a unanimous vote, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring builders of large commercial and residential developments to adopt such measures as planting drought-resistant landscaping and using recycled materials and energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting.
Noting “the Los Angeles tradition of smog and sprawl,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, wearing a green necktie in honor of Earth Day, signed the new law on a sunny terrace flanked by two model condominium high-rises, the Luma and the Elleven, off Hope Street in downtown, which were built to strict conservation standards.
The mayor has pledged to reduce the city’s carbon emissions 35% below 1990 levels by 2030, an effort that will also require a crackdown on the city’s coal-dependent municipal utility and a move toward electricity from renewable sources.
“We look toward the future through a greener lens,” Villaraigosa said, “after decades of poor policies that neglected environmental concerns.”
The law requires new commercial buildings and high-rise residential structures with more than 50,000 square feet of floor space to meet a nationally recognized “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” standard, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington-based nonprofit. It also would cover major renovations and low-rise developments of 50 units or more. City officials said about 150 new and renovated buildings, or about 7.5 million square feet, would be covered by the ordinance each year.
The rules would amount to preventing about 85,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next five years, the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the roads.