Going Green in L.A.

Photo courtesy of R.E.~, Flickr

It’s easy to mix an eco-friendly experience with your next visit to Los Angeles, with Green Seal Hotels, farm-fresh local produce year round, environmentally conscious stores and hybrid rental cars. Even L.A.’s famous Starline Tours went green with topless, lighter, lower emission Diesel powered buses, so you can enjoy the sights and sun. Another Side of Los Angeles also offers ten eco friendly Segway® tours.

Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed an international climate pact as part of an ongoing commitment to making L.A. one of the greenest big cities in the world. Current mayor Eric Garcetti has pioneered the expansion of the Metro Los Angeles rail lines to Westwood to the west and Whittier to the east, including the funding of them. Waste and Recycling News gave Los Angeles its highest rating for recycling more waste than any other big city in the nation, and AltTransport rated L.A. on of the top 10 cities in the U.S. for public transportation.

Here’s an introduction to some of L.A.’s great, green-friendly businesses and activities.

Green Hotels

For business or for pleasure, you can make your stay eco-friendly thanks to L.A.’s many green hotels. Some of L.A.'s top hotels have been recognized by Green Seal for their environmental conservation efforts, including:

  • Replacing old packaged terminal air conditioners with energy efficient systems.
  • Switching from dual to single-head showers.
  • Replacing dilute, ready-to-use cleaner with concentrated all-purpose cleaner.

Green Seal hotels do the work of reducing your carbon footprint for you with grace and style.

Green Shopping

Green shopping in L.A. is plentiful. Check out green-friendly retail stores — like American Apparel, Inc. and Arbor — to buy hot fashions for a cool climate.

Local farmers’ markets are fantastic for finding often organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables, reducing pollution generated by harsh pesticides and fertilizers as well as long distance transportation.

Green Architecture

L.A.’s cutting-edge architecture uses less energy and self-generates power stylishly. The Caltrans District 7 Headquarters is a LEED-certified building with an exterior skin of photovoltaics that produces a significant percentage of the building’s electricity. Entirely off the grid, the Los Angeles Audubon Center at Debs Park earned the highest possible rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

L.A. recently introduced its first solar powered park lights at the North Hollywood Park, increasing safety and energy efficiency for all visitors.

The Los Angeles Convention Center recently reached LEEDS-EB Gold level status for the 4.1 million square feet built on a 54-acre property and became the largest convention center in the nation to achieve this milestone.

Even the LA Zoo has grown greener with a renovated parking lot designed to decrease waste and runoff in the L.A. river.

Green Dining, Activities and Events

In L.A., there’s more to green dining than salad. It’s not just what you eat, but how it’s grown, harvested, transported and prepared. From seasonal menus based on locally-sourced ingredients (often from their own gardens) to sustainable design, L.A. restaurants have had a long-standing commitment to the green movement.  If you really want to get a head start on an eco meal, put on your helmet and start pedaling! There’s plenty of bike-friendly dining to be had from the Hollywood Hills to L.A.’s extensive coastline.

There’s more than one way to go green in Los Angeles. Try area hikes of all stripes from waterfalls to ocean vistas; try a budget conscious activity, like a stroll through the Downtown L.A. Art Walk or a trip to the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve; or head straight to a green event like a tour at the LEED-EB Platinum certified Audubon Center at Debs Park.

Green Rental Cars

Like other green businesses in L.A., Econation made a commitment to the future. They became a premier chauffeured transportation company by setting green auto standards with rides in luxurious, alternative fuel vehicles such as the Executive L Series Lincoln Town Car, which emits 90 percent less carbon.

If you favor your own hybrid wheels, head to California Rent-A-Car. They offer a variety of vehicles that’ll go easy on the wallet and their excellent fuel economy can help ease your environmental conscience.

Simply Hybrid is an all hybrid rental company operating at LAX and specializing in wheels from the Toyota Prius to the Mercedes E320 BlueTEC.

If driving is not your deal, or you need a driver for a night on the town, KLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services has a green fleet of vehicles that can shuttle you around in style.

Green Economy & Innovation

Some of the nation’s best and brightest live and work in L.A. on green technologies that will push the nation to greater sustainability in the ahead. According to a Brookings Institution study published in July 2011, California continues to lead the nation in the number of people with green jobs. Nearly 320,000 people in the state work in jobs such as installing solar panels, making electric vehicles and running organic farms. About 90,000 of those jobs are in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Brookings researchers included jobs in public mass transit and green waste management as well as renewable energy industries such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Clean Tech Los Angeles has brought together the city’s utilities, businesses and major educational institutions including the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, UCLA, USC, Caltech and others to tackle sustainability as it relates to energy, water and building. L.A. is becoming the place to be when it comes to clean technology.