October 8, 2008
County Supervisors OK Rules for Greener L.A.
By Troy Anderson
In what environmentalists called the most progressive environmental action ever taken by Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday moved to make buildings and homes more energy- efficient and landscaping more drought-resistant.
Under three new ordinances adopted by the board, new homes and businesses will be required to use power more efficiently, retain storm water on site and use drought-tolerant plants.
The new rules apply only to unincorporated areas, such as Lennox, Del Aire, El Camino Village and the county strip west of Carson.
Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, called the board's action the most progressive environmental step ever taken by the county and predicted it will set a precedent for the entire region.
"I think this is the most far-reaching set of environmental ordinances that the board has ever passed, and it's not only a strong investment in environmental projects, but in green jobs, too," Gold said.
Under the "green building" rules, new homes and businesses must be 15 percent more energy-efficient than state standards. And buildings larger than 10,000 square feet must install ultralow flush toilets.
Buildings larger than 25,000square feet and high-rises taller than 75 feet must meet stricter green building certification requirements.
In terms of water conservation, 75 percent of the landscaped areas in front of homes and businesses must use drought-tolerant plants and landscaped areas must use "smart controllers" that modify water sprinkling systems based on the temperature.
Developments and certain redevelopment projects will be required to capture storm water runoff and infiltrate it on site, allowing it to percolate into groundwater aquifers.
"This ordinance will require new developments to implement practices that improve water quality and water conservation," said Bruce Hamamoto, a senior civil engineer in the Department of Public Works.
"Additionally, when this storm water doesn't run off the property, it doesn't pollute the rivers and oceans."
On an annual basis, taking these actions will reduce greenhouse gases by 2,138 tons and save more than 14 million gallons of water, according to county officials.
Over a decade, the actions will reduce the amount of trash going to landfills by 66,000 tons. And the new standards will lower the utility bills of households by hundreds of dollars a year.
Kirsten James, the water quality director at Heal the Bay, said the ordinances will help consumers save on their water and electricity bills.
Holly Schroader, a representative of the California Building Industry Association, which represents 650 home development companies in the state, said the association supports the ordinances.
"These ordinances build on California's history of being a leader in sustainable construction," Schroader said.
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