Friday, July 20, 2007

The First Annual Sustainability Summit

More than 350 developers, advocates, and community stakeholders packed into the LEED-certified La Kretz Hall at the UCLA Institute of the Environment at the first-ever Los Angeles Business Council Sustainability Summit. A broad spectrum of thinkers and policy makers convened to share how companies are incorporating sustainable practices into their business model, from building green structures to providing cash incentives for carpool and alternative fuel vehicles.

Much as corporate America is streamlining sustainability into their operations, so too has the city. We have the largest fleet of hybrid vehicles in the nation, and we were the first big city to mandate that all of our buildings be LEED-certified.

Government’s role in facilitating a green future for Los Angeles was stressed. The threat of climate change has brought environmentalism to the forefront of the public’s attention. It’s our responsibility to engineer the local solutions that will solve this global crisis.


The strongest commitment the city can make to fight global warming is to green our building standards and spur the private sector to achieve the highest levels of sustainable construction. As I’ve written in this space before, the city has proposed a far-reaching green building program that includes new standards of sustainability, a city bureaucracy well-versed in environmental building, and expedited processing through each of the 21 departments involved in the development process for buildings that commit to going LEED Silver.

Towards the end of the day, the conversation shifted from the nuts and bolts of green business models and green building standards to a broader discussion about the nexus of planning and the environment. With the predicted arrival of 20 million more people to California over the next 40 years, we need to plan smart. Parts of Los Angeles, like the new urban trend in Hollywood’s development, can help model the future of California. The environmental impact of 60 million Californians demands that it must.