Climate change is a growing problem, and large cities can have a heavy impact on those changes. Los Angeles has a particularly heavy impact, due to its high-density population, dry climate, and frequent drought conditions (and the wildfires that go with it).
But Los Angeles is actively working to reduce that impact through a number of sustainability and green initiatives to help ease the strain on the environment. Here are a few ways in which the city of Los Angeles is striving for sustainability.
Even though Los Angeles is one of the most water-efficient cities in the United States, the city is encouraging even more in terms of water conservation. Some current initiatives include:
- The Residential Water Conservation Program, which offer services such as free water-efficient aerators and shower heads to residential customers, discounts on water-saving products, and a variety of free rebates. For example, residents can get up to $15,000 back in rebates for making their yard more sustainable. LA residents can also get financing on energy-efficient home upgrades.
- The Commercial Water Conservation Program, which offers businesses rebates on products like water-efficient toilets and urinals, flow regulators, and more, giving local businesses even more reasons to make their office environments more sustainable.
- Landscape training classes, turf replacement programs, and other water conservation directives.
Air pollution is a major problem that causes damage to animals, plants, and water sources. Air pollution is more than just smoggy days — it can damage buildings and structures, taint the water supply, and cause long-term health issues like birth defects and even cancer.
Air pollution is a sustainability issue because most air pollution is caused by fossil fuel consumption. A switch to cleaner energy sources like solar and wind, or even an emphasis on these technologies, would be a major step toward a more sustainable future.
Since 2005, the city of Los Angeles has been identifying and implementing strategies to reduce pollution, particularly around the Los Angeles Harbor, from ships, trucks, and harbor craft like tugs and workboats. These strategies have resulted in a drastic reduction in various types of pollution over the years. The port has also implemented a technology advancement program (TAP for short) which aims to research and implement new clean-air technologies to continue to pursue sustainable initiatives.
In 2017, the city passed the California Clean Air Initiative, which allocated $895 million toward air pollution reduction programs, seeking to replace diesel engines in vehicles with cleaner alternatives like more sustainable (and renewable) low-NOx natural gas engines.
Many of the environmental issues caused by climate change will affect coastal areas first. Rising sea levels and coastal erosion will make areas like Los Angeles particularly vulnerable. Los Angeles is increasingly susceptible to flooding, drought, heat, and wildfires as the climate shifts and temperatures rise. To help combat these changes, Los Angeles is collecting data to help strategize for a more sustainable future, from building upgrades and infrastructure improvements to public health preparedness, emergency response, and recovery planning.
Green Business Initiatives
Many businesses are already looking into the benefits of using renewable energy and other sustainable business practices. In fact, sustainability has been a growing focus across almost every field of endeavor, leading to increased demand for individuals with a certified education in sustainability.
The green business program is designed to further incentivize the pursuit of more sustainable business. These incentives include more rebate programs to help reduce the costs of upgrading to more eco-friendly facilities; free environmental consulting for businesses looking to change for the better, and access to promotional tools and opportunities for certified green businesses in Los Angeles. Certified businesses will also have an opportunity to be listed on the California Green Business Directory in order to help attract like-minded customers.
One of the most powerful and effective strategies for a sustainable future is the widespread switch to renewable energy sources. Fossil fuels are not only finite, but contribute heavily to the production of greenhouse gases — an issue that’s only grown worse as more parts of the world have developed.
To aid in the wider adoption of renewable energy, the Los Angeles County Office of Sustainability began promoting a regional residential efficiency program, which not only helps inform and educate those people most likely to upgrade to more sustainable energy models, but also to provide resources and financial incentives to help the process along.
The Los Angeles regional planning department also implemented a Renewable Energy Ordinance (REO), the purpose of which is to incentivize small-scale renewable energy solutions and provide regulations for solar facilities, in order to help reduce any negative environmental or community impact.
Sustainability Success Stories
While there is still a long way to go on the road to sustainability, these programs and incentives have already led to enormous positive changes, including:
- Los Angeles has the highest number of installed solar power facilities in the US.
- Los Angeles is the most water-efficient city in the US.
- The city also has the highest recycling rate out of the ten largest cities in the nation.