Partnering with the NRDC for Efficiency Ordinance in LA

Change Climate Change is partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Council to encourage the Los Angeles City Council to enact a Buildings Efficiency Ordinance. This ordinance would give every building a “report card” for its efficiency and make this rating public, which would raise awareness about building efficiency and allow vendors with efficient solutions to target problem buildings. Similar legislation already exists in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

When the legislation comes up for debate in the first quarter of 2016, we will write letters to council members and make an appearance in City Hall to advocate for adoption of the measures.

Here is some background on the subject from the NRDC:

Support Energy and Water Efficiency in Los Angeles

We want Los Angeles to be the most sustainable and resilient city in America. To do so, we must use our natural resources wisely in the face of climate change and drought. This includes making Los Angeles buildings as energy- and water-efficient as possible. Recognizing this, the City of Los Angeles and the State of California have already made ambitious goals to improve energy and water efficiency in buildings. The creation and passage of a city-wide ordinance addressing energy and water efficiency in existing buildings is a crucial step to help meet our goals, and make Los Angeles the most sustainable city in America.

Why Buildings Matter

  • About half of Los Angeles’ electricity demand comes from just 4 percent of its buildings.[1]
  • Within buildings, about 30 percent of the energy used is wasted due to inefficiencies.[2]
  • This high use and waste has a large effect on the city’s health.
  • Fifty-one percent of Los Angeles’ carbon emissions come from buildings.
  • Buildings are also heavy water users, and saving water through improving efficiency in buildings is critical in this time of drought.
  • Increasing energy and water efficiency in Los Angeles’ large buildings will drastically reduce the city’s carbon footprint, improve resiliency during drought and heat waves, and alleviate pressure on the electric grid.
  • Further, investing in energy and water efficiency saves money that can be invested in our economy, generates new green jobs, and creates a more equitable Los Angeles.

Existing City- and State-Wide Energy and Water Goals

  • To reap these many benefits, we must think ambitiously.
  • On April 8, 2015 Mayor Garcetti unveiled the City’s first ever Sustainable City pLAn[3] – a comprehensive strategy to improve Los Angeles’ environment, economy, and social equity, with bold, yet achievable goals in each area.
  • The pLAn calls to reduce city-wide building energy use per square foot by at least 14 percent in 2025 and 30 percent in 2035.
  • Los Angeles imports 80 percent of the water it consumes from sources that are at risk of depletion.
  • Recognizing this is not a path to a sustainable future, Mayor Garcetti signed an Executive Directive to reduce per capita potable water use by 20 percent by 2017.[4]
  • Further, the Sustainable City pLAn calls for a reduction in water use by at least 22.5% by 2025 and 25 percent by 2035.
  • These aggressive city-wide goals correspond with new state-level requirements. Governor Brown’s April 2015 Executive Order[5] directed the State Water Board to implement mandatory water reductions to reduce potable urban water usage by 25 percent.
  • And Senate Bill 350, signed in September 2015, calls for a doubling of statewide energy efficiency savings by 2030.

Strong Solutions with Stakeholders

  • To help achieve our city-wide sustainability commitments, on November 18th, 2015 the Los Angeles City Council’s Energy and Environment committee unanimously directed the Department of Buildings to create a buildings efficiency ordinance.
  • This came at the heels of a comprehensive stakeholder process. The feedback received from stakeholders during the process strongly favored the creation of an ordinance that would reduce energy and water consumption in existing buildings through benchmarking, transparency, audit, and retro-commissioning practices.
  • Benchmarking & Transparency means tracking and reporting a building’s energy and water use on an annual basis, and then making that information publicly available. Just this action alone is correlated with a 2% annual reduction in energy use in other cities that have this policy.
  • Audit – A close examination of the building to determine what improvements and investments could be made to make the building more efficient. The finished product is usually a report that a building owner can use to make decisions.
  • Retrocomissioning – “Tuning up” the building using the existing equipment in the building. This creates a lot of savings because just like a car, and building will start to fall out of alignment, and a tune up creates efficiency and saves energy.


[1] Analysis by the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA and the City Energy Project.