Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The City Council Tuesday took action to reduce energy use in large, older buildings, which studies have found are responsible for a great deal of the city’s energy consumption.

The Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency ordinance would require buildings 20,000 square feet or larger to report energy and water usage to the Department of Building and Safety each year. Every five years, these buildings, along with ones 15,000 square feet or larger, will be required to take action to reduce their consumption.

The motion, co-written by Councilmen Bob Blumenfield and Jose Huizar, said a preliminary analysis by the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA and the nonprofit City Energy project shows that half of the city’s electricity demand comes from just 4 percent of its buildings and that a strategy to help reduce energy consumption for these major users could provide proportionately high returns for the city’s conservation and sustainability goals.

“This program is crucial to our goal to reduce energy use by 15 percent by 2020,” said Huizar, whose Planning and Land Use Committee approved the item last week. “While the city has been a leader in establishing efficiency standards for new buildings, there is a great need to reduce energy use in thousands of older, existing buildings.”

The motion also said a package of policies and programs to address energy and water efficiency in existing buildings could include financing support, incentive programs, regular benchmarking and performance tracking, as well as an expansion of the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge or development of similar programs.

Huizar’s office said the program has received support from the L.A. business and environmental communities, including the Los Angeles Business Council, the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the L.A. Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Building Owners and Managers Association.

Councilman Paul Koretz seconded the original motion.

“What I like best isn’t simply the energy, water, and related cost- savings the city and building owners will achieve, it’s how this program will motivate ongoing overall improvement in our building stock, making sure they are constantly well-maintained and updated, which is good for building owners, for building tenants, and for our overall infrastructure,” Koretz said. “Like our new waste franchise system, this is going to be one of the most comprehensive programs in the country, one that other cities can and will emulate.”

–City News Service 

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