Los Angeles moved closer to carbon-free buildings when the Climate Emergency Mobilizing Commission (CEMC) voted September 20 to approve Fair Decarbonization of Buildings Report, written by its municipal team, the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office (CEMO). The report synthesizes findings and recommendations from CEMO’s stakeholder engagement process earlier this year, and now it will be delivered to City Council to confirm community priorities for developing decarbonization legislation. City Council intends to consider the report in committee in October.
CEMO’s Climate Equity LA series brought together stakeholders from frontline communities, low-income tenants, Indigenous communities, affordable housing providers, service organization leaders, local governments and other groups to discuss potential pathways and impacts of building decarbonization. Local coalitions like Leap LA and RePower LA played a key role in peer education, designing and leading workshop conversations, and shaping the final report.
The CEMO report included 10 recommendations for the city council:
- Include frontline communities in design, implementation and evaluation of all building decarbonization policies and programs
- Leveraging building decarbonization to improve public health and livability
- To integrate tenant protections in the development of decarbonization policies and programs
- To integrate affordable housing protections in the development of decarbonization policies and programs
- To integrate worker protection and new job opportunities for frontline communities in the development of decarbonization policies and programs
- To prioritize public funding for the decarbonization of existing residential buildings in frontline communities
- Develop education, awareness and technical assistance related to the decarbonization of buildings
- Leverage efforts to decarbonize existing buildings to collect data on technical and financial requirements decarbonization of buildings
- design a flexible, equity-focused, phased approach to the decarbonization of the building
- Identify all possible new and existing sources of public, private and philanthropic funding to support a fair decarbonization of buildings
Many community organizations highlighted the importance of justice for workers, necessary tenant protections, investment in frontline communities, and inclusive public engagement as the political process unfolds. There is a strong base of support in Los Angeles for decarbonization pathways that meet these provisions and align with preserving housing affordability as buildings go fully electric.
The benefits of carbon-free buildings must be distributed equitably so that better air quality, affordable and efficient energy, and clean energy can benefit those hardest hit by the impacts of climate change. Public investment should go toward renovations that improve the quality of life for low-income Angelenos and communities of color, upgrade schools and seniors’ residences, and maintain affordable housing in healthy conditions. When governments use public funds, they also wield the most influence over strong labor standards, and co-benefits in health, affordability, climate emissions and economic resilience can be realized.
What happens next
The City Council expects to pass an ordinance to decarbonize new buildings in Los Angeles by the end of this year. Council sponsors Nithya Raman, Paul Koretz, Nury Martinez and Marqueece Harris-Dawson have already made it clear that they want a sweeping policy covering all types of new carbon-free residential and commercial construction.
The CEMO report, along with reports from the Los Angeles Department of Housing and the Department of Building and Safety, will be received and discussed in the relevant City Council committees before any final orders or actions are voted on by the City Council. entire council. The Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and Rivers Committee intends to review and discuss these reports at its next meeting in October.
Additionally, the council plans to make rapid progress towards a policy for existing buildings. A performance standard that mandates carbon emission reductions and energy efficiency gains in LA’s largest buildings is a much-needed policy tool to meet the city’s climate goals and ensure its buildings are climate-resilient. . Public incentives will be needed for residential buildings to achieve high energy efficiency and switch to fully electric appliances.
This is where inclusive public engagement should be seen as extremely important, as expressed by community leaders during the engagement process and in the many public comments. Determining the specifics of a policy – or set of policies – that ambitiously reduces emissions from buildings while safeguarding housing, energy and justice for workers must be developed in close consultation with communities. served by these buildings.
We look forward to seeing City Council’s next steps in developing and communicating proposed pathways for building decarbonization. Through this report and in their own words, the Angelenos have already specified the conditions under which communities would support political actions.