Building Green in Los Angeles

Walker Wells's picture

Last Tuesday was a big day for me and an even bigger Earth Day for the City of Los Angeles. After 18 months of meetings, focus groups, workshops, conference calls, briefings, and a lot of collective putting together of heads the City Council unanimously passed a landmark green building ordinance. Three hours later it was signed into law by the Mayor.

Why is this a big deal? Because Los Angeles is a big complicated city and it is hard to get things done, especially quickly, in big complicated cities. So, for me, being able to create and sustain a collaborative process that wove together the hopes and desires of staff, elected officials, environmental advocates, and the business community is the real precedent setter. With the right issue, the right attitude, sustained commitment, and some momentum it really is possible to move the bureaucracy in a progressive green direction.

But, though its fun to bask in a day of collective accomplishment, the months and years ahead is when things get truly interesting. Starting November 1, all buildings of significant size - 150 a year - will be designed and built to green standards. With this sustained volume of projects it seems that, over time, the market will have no choice to transform and that standard practice will, well, have to rise to a new standard.

So what's next? Folding the green building program into the City's larger climate action plan and using green buildings as the catalyst for creating green neighborhoods.

Walker Wells is director of the green urbanism program for Global Green USA and a lecturer at Pomona College and UCLA.




Congratulations Walker! I remember the euphoric feeling that came when the West Hollywood program was finally adopted. 18 months must be some sort of a record! Hope you've been well.

Greening Los Angeles

Good work Walker. Keep pushing.

nicely done

always nice to hear about the right kind of progress when we've become so accustomed to the seemingly unstoppable wrong kind. thanks for your efforts.

art about the environment

Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.
building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.