Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman introduced legislation during the LA City Council meeting Wednesday to require all-newly constructed buildings in Los Angeles to be carbon neutral.
Since the 2010’s, California has set a number large-scale environmental transition goals by certain years, including for public utilities to all be carbon free by 2045. Los Angeles, however, has aimed to meet those goals quicker than the state, passing the “LA 100” measure to be powered by 100% clean energy by 2035 last year.
To help meet this goal, as well as reduce indoor carbon pollution in general, Councilwoman Raman introduced her proposed ordinance on Wednesday. In it, Raman identifies buildings in Los Angeles for totaling 43% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city. Her proposal would help reduce it by having all new construction in the city not include gas lines, she said. All new buildings would come with all electric appliances, heating systems, and other things that in things that in the past have been gas reliant.
The measure would also specifically ask city departments to come up with framework to implement to be in effect by January 2023. If passed, Los Angeles would join other Californian cities such as San Francisco in banning gas lines from being placed in newer buildings.
“This is such a critical moment for us to be engaging in this work. We are seeing rising temperatures, the risks of more dangerous wildfires, more serve droughts, more deaths from heat exposure, we’re seeing a worsening air quality threaten our residents’ health,” Councilwoman Raman said on Wednesday. “We know that we need to take bold and immediate action to save our planet from the worst effects of climate change, and yet, sometimes it feels like the biggest steps are hard for us to start.”
While still being discussed and not voted on during the meeting, multiple Council members gave their support to the measure, indicating that it would likely pass the Council in the future.
“Building energy decarbonization is an important component of our ‘LA100’ plan, which is transitioning Los Angeles away from dirty energy and will achieve 100% carbon-free energy in the City by 2035. A carbon-free future, rooted in equity and sustainability, is what Angelenos want, what our planet needs and what we are moving toward with relentless focus and a sense of urgency,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.
Mayor Eric Garcetti also backed the proposal, adding, “We can see over the horizon at this moment what’s going to happen to Los Angeles and California, to this country and to this world, if we don’t stretch beyond what we think our reach is.”
LA’s buildings account for 43% of our carbon emissions – more than any other sector.
Today, my colleagues and I introduced a motion to require all new residential and commercial buildings in LA to be built to achieve zero-carbon emissions, a critical move toward a green economy. pic.twitter.com/HLrydO8G8z
— Councilmember Nithya Raman (@cd4losangeles) February 9, 2022
Proposed ordinance questioned by many
Many building owners and developers have questioned the plan, noting that the city is currently not clear on a lot of things.
“While going all electric isn’t that big of a deal in new buildings, it is tricky when it comes down to if renovations are covered,” said David Ramos, a building contractor head in Los Angeles who would be affected by the ordinance. “And not just that. Would there be subsidies for residents with gas who want to convert? This is not just about having new buildings be all electric, but saving older ones to get up to the new standards too.”
“So renovations, subsidies for conversions, putting more of a strain on the power grid with more electrical appliances, greater chances of brownouts. There is so much to discuss and work on before any big decisions, but the city is thinking if they can, not if they should or if it is feasible. And that is worrisome.”
The Council is expected to vote on the proposed ordinance later this year.