Greening Commercial Buildings Is LA’s Focus

The Clinton Climate Initiative is all over energy efficient retrofits for commercial buildings these days, and its latest endeavor – with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group – is the LA Commercial Building Performance Partnership. This is an American Recovery and Reivestment Act-funded program designed to help owners of commercial properties make their buildings more energy and water efficient, saving tenants cash they can then go out and use to stimulate the local economy. The program is also part of Energy Upgrade California, a state-wide initiative focused on reducing energy consumption in existing buildings.

Villaraigosa noted, in a statement, that since commercial buildings in LA account for 57 percent of the city’s total energy consumption, it has a large built-in market for such retrofits (and is also in dire need of the quality of air and quality of life benefits expected to spring from this program). The city is a green jobs titan, and Villaraigosa said that, “Once again, Los Angeles is leading the way in finding innovative methods to promote environmental stewardship that also benefits our local economy.”

Energy Efficient Buildings

image via Pike Research

Until now, commercial building owners interested in reducing their energy bills faced challenges, such as how to identify and implement energy-saving measures and how to fund the cost of the upgrades. The LA Commercial Building Performance Partnership seeks to address both of these challenges by funding energy savings assessments (through the Recovery Act) and introducing “innovative financing options” to increase the supply of capital to fund retrofits. One financing option available through the program is called property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, in which building owners can secure funds for energy upgrades and repay the costs through their property tax bill, payable over a period of up to 20 years.

Energy assessments covering more than 12 million square feet of commercial building space are already under way as part of the early stage pilot program of the LA Commercial Building Performance Partnership, with participating buildings ranging in size from less than 10,000 square feet to more than one million square feet and ranging from factories to high-rise offices, hotels and retail stores.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.