Los Angeles' Sustainable City pLAn Unveils Ambitious Goals to Improve Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Today Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled the first-ever Los Angeles Sustainable City pLAn. This comprehensive document outlines ambitious yet achievable goals and targets for Los Angeles on environmental, economic, and equity issues.

Within the section addressing energy efficiency in buildings, the Energy Use goal states: Reduce energy use per square foot below 2013 baseline - for all building types - by at least 14% in 2025 and 30% in 2035. NRDC has been an active stakeholder and advisor during the year-long process to create the pLAn, and we are particularly pleased with how this section turned out.

Two near-term energy efficiency outcomes to be achieved by 2017 are:

  • Create benchmarking policy to monitor and disclose building energy use
  • Thumbnail image for pLAn - EE goals-page-001.jpgDevelop policy package (e.g. audits and retro-commissioning) to address energy consumption in the city's largest buildings (public and private)

There is also a comprehensive list of twenty energy efficiency strategies and priorities to work on in areas such as measuring, tracking, and making available building energy data; expanding and improving energy efficiency programs through Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP); expanding voluntary energy efficiency leadership programs like LA Better Buildings Challenge; preparing for energy code upgrades; and having the municipal buildings lead by example.

All of this work is critical if we are to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles. Buildings are the largest consumer of electricity in the city and are responsible for 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transportation or industrial sectors. According to the EPA, 30% of energy use in large buildings is actually wasted. Commercial and industrial buildings throughout the United States spend an annual average of $400 billion on energy costs, meaning there is a lot of cost savings attributable to making buildings more energy efficient right here in LA.

This section of the pLAn recognizes and advances the great work Los Angeles has been doing to improve energy efficiency in buildings over the past year. Last summer the LADWP adopted the most aggressive energy efficiency target of any municipal utility in the nation by pledging to reduce energy usage by 15 percent in Los Angeles by 2020. To help achieve this commitment, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a motion in December 2014, which directed the Department of Building and Safety, in coordination with the City Energy Project, to convene a stakeholder process to develop a package of policies and programs to improve the energy and water efficiency of Los Angeles' existing buildings. That stakeholder process is well underway with several dozens of people in each meeting to date, providing feedback and asking good questions about how to create an energy efficiency policy package that makes sense for LA.

NRDC and the City Energy Project will "Adopt the Plan" and redouble our efforts in working with the City of Los Angeles and local partners to create a comprehensive suite of energy efficiency policies and programs that address large existing buildings in a way that makes sense for Los Angeles.

About the Authors

Kimi Narita

Deputy Director, City Energy Project

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