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City Council passes comprehensive and far reaching plan - a first for a major American City that would reduce LA's carbon emissions by more than 80,000 tons by 2012

Los Angeles, CA - April 22, 2008 - Taking bold action to combat climate change in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today joined City Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilmembers Jan Perry, Ed Reyes and Bill Rosendahl to sign the Private Sector Green Building Plan into law setting LA 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 Energy and Design (LEED) 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,” Mayor 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.”

During a visit to LA's greenest residential building, the Mayor signed into law the most far reaching plan of any big city in America to promote green building practices in the private sector. The ordinance would reduce the City's carbon emissions by more than 80,000 tons by 2012, the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road – surpassing any other major city in the country.

Under the ordinance, the City will require all projects at or above 50,000 square feet – or 50 units – to comply with the general LEED-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 LEED silver accreditation, the City will add expedited processing through the Planning and Public Works Departments. “This legislation puts Los Angeles squarely at the forefront of building green,” Council President Garcetti said. “With it we will clean our air, clean our water, preserve our land, and lead the fight against global warming.”

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. Meeting regularly with the public, the team will file quarterly reports to the Mayor on the City’s progress in implementing the Private Sector Green Building Initiative.

“Today, we are taking another great step toward becoming a greener, more sustainable City. We are already setting a high standard by creating municipal buildings with strict green standards and now we are asking the private sector to do the same in order to make a more significant impact on the quality of our environment here in Los Angeles,” said Councilwoman Jan Perry, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee.

“The future of green industry is happening right here in Los Angeles with our green building program,” said Councilmember Ed P. Reyes, who chairs the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Los Angeles River. “Green buildings reduce energy and water consumption, and improve air quality. That translates into healthier communities and reduced water and power bills for our customers.”

“Given that greenhouse gas emissions from buildings account for more than 40% of global warming pollution, the Los Angeles Green Building ordinance is a good first step towards 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.”

“Trammell Crow Company believes building green is good for business, building green is good for developers and building green is good for the City of Los Angeles,” said Brad Cox, Managing Director of Trammell Crow Company and Chairman of the Los Angeles Business Council.

The US Green Building Council awards LEED silver, gold and platinum certifications based on the level of environmental sustainability met by a developer. The site of the news conference, the Luma residential project, is a 19-story high-rise in downtown’s South Park neighborhood and has been certified as LEED Gold.

Luma becomes only the second condo complex in California to receive the Gold designation, joining its sister building Elleven, which was LEED Gold certified in October 2007. To reach Gold, Luma has achieved high levels of water and energy efficiencies, improved indoor air quality and drought tolerant landscaping.

The Green Building Plan is an integral part of the Mayor's Green LA Plan, which was unveiled in May 2007. The aggressive and bold plan calls for the City to reduce its carbon footprint by 35% below 1990 levels by 2030. The goal goes beyond the targets set in the Kyoto Protocol and is the greatest reduction target of any large US city.

Key Points of the Private Sector Green Building Ordinance:

  • Require that all new projects greater than 50 units or 50,000 square feet show compliance with the LEED Certified level. Expedite processing through all departments, if LEED Silver designation is met.
  • Initiate an ongoing review of city codes to ease use of environmentally sound and superior materials and processes.
  • Create a cross-departmental Sustainability Team to review and revise green building policies and specific projects. They will meet weekly so that the development community can enjoy ongoing interaction with City staff.
  • Direct City General Managers and department and agency heads (namely Planning, Building and Safety, Public Works, Water and Power, Transportation, and CRA) to train and certify their staff in green building methods and policies and/or as LEED Accredited Professionals. This training should be ongoing and appear in each departmental annual budget.
  • Work with the Board of DWP Commissioners to continue to add DWP financial incentives for projects that meet green building standards.
  • Create and confer the Mayor’s Annual Award of Excellence in Sustainable Design & Construction to recognize exemplary efforts by individuals and companies in the private sector.

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