Category Archives: Environment

Local Infrastructure and Environmental Progress

Great efforts and much work is being undertaken in LA in the fight for climate change. Simultaneously however, for over 30 years, some of the energy being used on a daily basis in houses is coming from a place where coal is burned in a furnace at the bottom of Intermountain’s 710-foot smokestack.  Between one-fifth and one-third of the city of LA’s electricity comes from there.

However, in 2025, there are plans to shut down the plant that creates very dirty fossil fuel. In the meantime, LA has other plans to assemble a natural gas-fired power plant in its stead.  Gas burns cleaner than coal but does trap heat in the atmosphere and leaks methane from pipelines.

The ultimate goal for LA is to import solar and wind power from the area too and construct a compressed air energy storage facility for renewable energy.  Given that two bills were passed last year in an attempt to reduce/eliminate emissions from buildings while offering incentives for moving to renewable electric infrastructure, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

The Californian Building Industry Association (CBIA) also recently found that “natural gas is seen as cheaper and more energy-efficient, whereas electricity is seen as safer and more often viewed as a clean energy source.”

Los Angeles River

There have been issues for a while now at the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles River.  As such, there has been a call by city officials on creating a change in how the area is monitored.  The situation is so bad that, according to co-founder of LA River Walkers and Watchers, Evelyn Aleman:

“Our community members are afraid to use the bike path, also afraid to use local businesses because the crime we are seeing is spilling into local communities affecting everyone,”

As such, Bob Blumenfield who is a member of the LA City council recently proposed a motion for a pilot program that would render one organization to be in charge of patrolling the area.  He believes that putting the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority in this position is “the perfect entity [for the job given that] they are a park agency.”  He went on to explain:

“They know about water quality, park issues and interest in creating vibrant parks and the rangers unlike most other rangers are peace officers.”

The hope is that the motion will be heard by the end of 2019 by the city council and that if approved, a few months later it will be implemented.

LA Firm’s Technology Tackling Toxins

LA based Addvantage USA Ltd will begin its task of reducing the 16 million metric tons of Nitrous Oxide produced each year by America’s  transportation industry. It has the technology to, according to CEO and co-founder, Daniel Mitchell, reduce up to 17.6 percent of diesel used by US haulage firms as well as decreasing NOx emissions by 83 percent.

And the technology is easy to implement as well.  It takes only four hours to retrofit into vehicles; a project that has undergone development and testing for a decade.  According to Mitchell:

“Achieving the investment as quickly as we have is very encouraging. With ever tighter margins and diesel representing around 40% of a fleet’s overall costs, we are confident that this proven, patented technology provides compelling economic and environmental arguments for US fleets.”

LA is no stranger to this kind of work.  Earlier this week on Earth Day (22nd April) the LA Port marked its own environmental success, revealing the newest clean heavy-duty trucks.  Produced by Kenworth and Toyota, in conjunction with the of Los Angeles celebrated on Monday with its own unique flair, unveiling the Port of Los Angeles and the California Air Resources Board, 10 of these zero-emission fuel cell electric trucks will be used this year to transfer cargo, in addition to the two already in service. 

Getting Ahead of the Quake: New App for Los Angeleans

Destruction of an earthquake

Residents of Los Angeles have been dealing with fear from earthquakes for years.  The damage – environmental, physical and psychological – can be shattering.  Now though thanks to a new app being designed, early warning signs will be given for an upcoming earthquake. 

ShakeAlert® is a collaborative project between US state and university partners together with the US Geological Survey (USGS).  During the testing phase the group worked in authentic environments (like hospitals, schools, and other densely populated buildings) to ensure it worked in as close to real life situations as possible.

Now, residents in LA will be able to brace themselves before an earthquake arrives working with the USGS regional sensors that can detect a 5.0 or greater earthquake.  Of this development, the region’s Mayor, Eric Garcetti said:

We often say here in Los Angeles that it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when the next big one is going to hit. We know that we live in earthquake country.”

The app has been a work in progress – 10 years – and was made possible thanks to a $260,000 Annenberg Foundation grant received in 2017.

Solar Water Heating: Save Money

Apart from its positive impact on the environment, solar water heating benefits users monetarily.  Now, Los Angeleans can join the masses who have already benefited from solar water heating thanks to the California Solar Initiative (CSI) and SoCalGas®, operating in Southern California.

The program being offered from the company could ultimately save both individuals and businesses thousands of dollars each year.   One recent example of its use hails from UCLA which installed a solar water heating system for its residence halls.  The result was the neutralization of 80 percent of its water heating needs, saving the academic institution thousands of dollars each year while substantially curtailing its natural gas usage.

Similarly in the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles, Build It Green (BIG) launched a new phase of its Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP).  This is part of its goal of setting up “healthy, sustainable, and affordable homes for all people.”  As such the LIWP is investing $26.8 million in State of California cap-and-trade funds, rehabilitating over 5,500 single-family homes in the poorest communities within these two regions.

LA: Expanding Clean Energy Economy

At the end of last month, Energize California (the “energy innovation hub for Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties”) was launched.  The initiative – developed by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) – is seen as a way to bolster LA’s clan energy economy by backing the industry ecosystem and helping people access the business and technical industry that is needed to bring new technologies to market successful.

The funding from the program is coming from the California Energy Commission (CEC) over a six year period.  Energize California is getting $5 million over six years as part of the CEC’s goal of responding to escalating demand for innovation in the energy sector with the deployment of more renewable resources. Robert Weisenmiller, Chairman of Energy Commission said:

“You never know where the next great clean energy idea will come from, but having a centralized program like Energize California, where innovators can easily network with academia, industry, business and professional development resources, greatly enhances the chances of that happening here in Southern California.”

For LA businessmen and women in the clean energy industry, Energize California will help them expedite product commercialization and market entry by facilitating their connection to mentors, testing and prototyping facilities and pilot programs.

Quality Living in Los Angeles

There is often negative speak about living in LA, relating to driving matters, environmental issues or just plain expense. In this article we look to some of the (very many) positive reasons life in LA is not only good but often getting better.

First, a recent report produced by the California Association of Realtors found that “housing affordability continues to trend much lower in Los Angeles and Orange counties than in San Bernardino County,” with almost 30 percent of households in the region having the ability to purchase its median-priced home of $485,800 in Q117 (an increase of 28 percent from Q416).

Second, green living is getting easier.  There are a few examples of that.  Each Saturday night, the sanitation department of LA is hosting free workshops on backyard composting, smart gardening, worm composting, and grasscycling.  As well, for cyclists, there are a few ways to bike around the city thanks to Metro Bike and the Social Bicycles app which work in the area.  And then LA residents can apply for free trees for their yards/businesses etc., adding to the landscape’s greenery.

Third, education is getting a boost in the state as well. Last week, the professional networking and education initiative, Destination California took place for three days at the LA Hotel Downtown.  Presenting participants with an opportunity to network with CVBs, DMCs and top hotels, the Northstar Meetings Group-hosted event was attended by around 60 meeting planner professionals and 75+ industry suppliers.  Attendees were also invited to take part in CMP-accredited educational sessions.

Conservation in Los Angeles

riverThe Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC) was established in 1986 by Mickey Kantor, “to provide at-risk young adults and school-aged youth with opportunities for success through job skills training, education and work experience with an emphasis on conservation and service projects that benefit the community.” Today, one of the projects it is undertaking is the repair of the Los Angeles River. This involves “plucking out invasive plants, picking up trash, and removing graffiti from the river.” While doing this, they learn about “native landscaping, hydrology, and water quality management from their crew supervisor Brian Casey.”

Still, in other areas of LA, people are calling for a “relaxation of conservation efforts.” Toward the end of 2015, water providers had a very hard time “meeting conservation targets.” Now though, drought rules have been modified in LA, “rewarding water districts for investing in new local supplies, [thus] allow[ing] for adjustments for savings goals based on a district’s climate and population growth.” Indeed “conservation standards” could be decreased by as much as eight percentage points.

South Californian residents are really trying to conserve water, following the call by government officials to engage in this important act. Things were going well for a time, but it seems that the most recent response to this has been that they are “hitting a wall” and can’t do anymore. According to a recent survey commissioned by Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District (MWD), close to 90% of respondents said they either strong or somewhat agree that they’ve “already cut back on water use at my home as much as [they] can.” Many said that they would be willing to lessen their consumption. Realistically though, MWD Board Member Cynthia Kurtz pointed out that, “they know what they’re doing [to conserve], and they believe it’s everything, but when you start giving them other ideas … they realize they’re not. So drought fatigue, in a sense, means they’ve run out of ideas, and we need to keep reinforcing that there are other things they can do.”

Still, water conservation is not all bad for LA. According to statistics from the LA Department of Water and Power, “customers reduced their water use by 13.7 percent in December, compared to the same month in 2013, below the 16 percent reduction goal set by the state, according to figures released Feb. 2.” And since the June statewide instituted mandate, customers have “reduced a cumulative 16.7 percent, just ahead of the goal.” Nevertheless, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, Felicia Marcus cautioned:

“While the recent rains and growing snowpack are wonderful to behold, we won’t know until spring what effect it will have on the bottom line for California’s unprecedented drought. Until we can tally that ledger, we have to keep conserving water every way we can. Every drop saved today is one that we may be very glad we have tomorrow.”

So there is work to be done on conservation projects in LA. But it seems a lot has already been done and proposals are underway for more of the same. Let’s hope for a water-heavy LA for 2016.