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Climate and Environment

Buildings Are Bad For The Planet Too — How LA Is Trying To Change That

An apartment building under construction on a street corner in MacArthur Park is wrapped in scaffolding. A large work truck is parked beside the building behind concrete street barriers.
A residential apartment building is erected in MacArthur Park.
(Chava Sanchez
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Los Angeles is taking more steps toward its ambitious Green New Deal goal by curbing the amount of pollution generated by buildings.

Tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks are major contributors to climate change, but many Angelenos may not realize that buildings are also a big source of greenhouse gas pollution.

From their foundations to the way they’re wired up for power, and even from their water usage, they make up more than 40% of the city’s total carbon footprint.

Councilmember Paul Koretz, who authored a city council motion with Counclmembers Nithya Raman and Paul Krekorian, is calling for changes to the city’s building codes to make new construction projects greener and to improve energy efficiency in older buildings.

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He says those guidelines must be drawn up with lower-income neighborhoods in mind since they’re already feeling the effects of the climate crisis.

“The communities that have been dealing with the pollution…and all the things that may go with it, that we clean up those communities first, and we hear from them first,” Koretz said.

The Climate Emergency Office at the Department of Public Works will hold community meetings early next year to get feedback from the public.

The city’s goal is to make all new buildings carbon neutral by the end of the decade and by 2050 for all existing buildings.

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