LA has a vast amount of natural open space, more than 214,000 acres, including the nation’s largest municipal park – 4,014 acre Griffith Park – plus 22 miles of beaches in addition to countless parks and recreation areas. LA’s top nature reserves include the 153,095-acre Santa Monica National Recreation Area and the 55,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
So, what does this all mean? Well, according to the Brookings Institution, a prestigious Washington think tank, LA truly is the “Emerald City,” ranking greener than New York, more virtuous than Portland, Oregon and, yes, even better than socially conscious San Francisco.
Recently, LA was named one of the top ten cities for public transportation by AltTransport, adding another green feather into LA’s hat.
- LA was the first city to require that city-owned buildings be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications — the internationally recognized standard for constructing environmentally friendly buildings — back in 2003. Mayor Villaraigosa recently committed $1.3 Million in grants to nonprofits and community organizations for energy efficiency outreach.
- LA has the highest solid waste recycle rate of any large American city — 62%.
- The Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) is the largest solar-generating building in North America. The LACC also recently accepted its Gold Level certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB), awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
- LA’s celebrity chefs are leading the charge for sustainable food and environmentally sustainable restaurant practices.
- You can shop ‘til you drop for eco-friendly products in LA. From designer shoes made from tree sap to contemporary furniture crafted from recycled materials, green is the new black all over town.
- Nearly 14% of all LA's energy comes from renewable resources, including solar and wind power. The city’s LA Solar plan, the largest of its kind in the nation, is slated to provide for 10% of all LA’s energy needs by 2020.
- The city’s “Native Tree Ordinance” protects all Oak, Southern California Black Walnut, Western Sycamore and California Bay trees from harm.
- LA boasts the single largest fuel cell power plant at any university in the world, at the California State University Northridge (CSUN) campus in the San Fernando Valley.
- More influential green organizations have been founded in LA than in many other cities. They, include TreePeople, Heal the Bay, American Oceans Campaign (now part of the global advocacy group Oceana) and the Wright Organic Resource Center.
- Go green on wheels! Celebrities and others choose LA-based Ecolimo’s fleet of green limos and VIP vehicles, while Hertz’s “Green Collection” features rental hybrids.
- Breathe easy. LA has a fleet of Hazmobile trucks and trailers devoted to picking up and disposing of hazardous waste.
- LA was one of the first cities in the nation to establish curbside recycling back in 1989 and currently boasts the highest recycling rate of any large US city.
- Green Glitz. As the world’s entertainment capital, LA’s celebrity galas spread the word of eco-responsibility around the globe. The Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Grammys, the MTV awards and even the Teen Choice Awards are all eco-savvy, using recycled materials, organic foods, solar-powered technology, Green Tag carbon-offsets and eco-chic gift bag goodies.
- Do as I do. The LA Department of Water and Power (DWP) leads the nation in energy conservation by using solar power and recycling — and it encourages LA residents to do the same. The DWP picks up power-guzzling refrigerators free of charge and gives residents a refund; gives a $300 rebate to customers who install water-efficient washing machines, and offers financial incentives to homeowners and businesses to use solar power.
- 80% of LA City’s trash trucks and street sweepers run on natural gas, with the goal of getting to 100% by the end of this year.
- The Port of Los Angeles is slashing in-port air pollution by half — well below EPA standards — with its five-year Clean Air Action Plan, meeting their 2011 goal, by replacing diesel-powered equipment with clean, natural gas and electric-powered equipment. Not content to stop there a revised program will lead to a 72 percent reduction in diesel particulate matter, along with 22 percent fewer smog-forming nitrogen oxides and a 93 percent decrease in sulfur oxides emitted by ship exhaust fumes by 2014.
- Shady deals. LA is proactively moving to reduce the use of eco-harming residential air-conditioners with the One Million Trees LA program. 300,000 shade trees have already been planted throughout the city. “Trees for a Green LA” gives free shade trees to any resident who wants to plant them. More than 30 water-resistant species are available.
- LA boasts the nation’s largest fleet of clean, green buses — 2,500 — all powered by compressed natural gas.
- Metro LA’s modern subways and light rail lines are totally electric.
- Waste not, want not. LA recycles more than 850 tons of restaurant food waste a month into compost that is sold to local farms and vineyards. More than 335 restaurants participate and dozens more join the program every month.
- Water wisdom. Back in 1988, LA was one of the first cities to require low-flow toilets and showerheads, as well as water-efficient devices for landscaping in all residences prior to re-sale.
- Airport clean. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Van Nuys Airport (VNY) use non-polluting green sources for up to 35% of their electrical power — they’ve been doing so for years. Bob Hope Airport (BUR) was one of the first to install electric charging units at all its airport gates in 2005 to encourage airlines to switch to non-polluting electric ground support equipment (eGSE). More than 70% of its eGSEs are clean. LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) recycles paper and beverage containers and more than 50% of the airports’ GSEs are electric, hybrids or use natural gas.
- Green greens. Only recycled water is used to irrigate LA’s numerous area golf courses and regional farming operations.
- Ahead of its time, in 2004, LA passed Proposition O, a first-of-its-kind, $500 million local water quality bond measure, designed to keep LA in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act. City officials unveiled a new sustainable L.A. Zoo parking lot that goes a long way toward protecting the nearby LA River thanks to Prop O.
- The Smart Grid Demonstration Project provides $60M of federal matching funds for the development and demonstration of smart grid energy management solutions in LA. This five year project was awarded on a competitive basis and is the largest single award of its type in the country.