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Building a Better, More Sustainable Future in Los Angeles (Part 2)

By Dennis Kaiser

Part 2: Building A Model of Sustainability Through Innovation

As a new Presidential administration transitions to lead the nation, a green economic agenda promises to hold a prominent position in the coming year. The challenges of 2020 are expected to acquiesce to a host of innovative solutions and practices that ultimately lead to a more prosperous and sustainable future for the country.

In the second of a two-part series, we examine ways the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge (LABBC) is promoting energy efficiency across the city and working to mainstream the practices that have made L.A. building owners models of sustainability. (Read Part 1 on this link.) The LABBC’s 7th Annual Innovation Awards program, designed to showcase buildings that have successfully navigated the challenges of health, safety and sustainability over the past year, is open for nominations now through January 15, 2021.

Recession-Shaped Green Agenda

A local program under the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Better Buildings” initiative, the LABBC came out of the last recession in 2010, says LABBC Executive Director David Hodgins. “The LABBC started by rolling together three different federally funded programs that I designed on behalf of the city: a program that provided standardized energy audits for large commercial properties, a revolving loan fund for retrofits of affordable multifamily residential properties and a bond-financed program to retrofit city-owned facilities. The world has completely changed since then, but we learned a lot through the last ‘green stimulus’ that we can apply today.”

In 2010, the federal government stepped in with block grant funding for cities—as well as providing R&D and technology-specific stimulus—and states allocated additional funds to support various programs, a pattern that Hodgins predicts will repeat as the Biden administration focuses on economic recovery in the aftermath of a global pandemic.

“What’s different this time around is the level of political support for legislative action on climate. Over the next three to five years, I expect every major state and local government will enact some sort of building performance standard, carbon tax or other ‘stick’ to goose demand,” predicts Hodgins. “That is already happening in cities like New York, Washington D.C. and St. Louis.”

“More people are waking up to the fact that sustainability is not a political issue, it is an issue of economic growth and competition. To borrow Biden’s term, it’s about ‘building back better,’ about not repeating the mistakes of the past and expecting a different result,” he continues.

In addition to developments on the policy front, Hodgins says there is also a push to standardize the ways in which we track and account for carbon emissions. As a program, the LABBC will continue to track and recognize the downward trajectories of its partners’ greenhouse gas emissions at a local level, as well as working to align them with national and global reporting frameworks.

“As we begin to shift toward mandatory tracking and reduction of carbon emissions, it’s important that local policy requirements align with global frameworks, so we can see how each sector, each city and each country is contributing,” says Hodgins.

A Unique Partnership

With the Innovation Awards, Los Angeles has the opportunity to demonstrate how its unique partnership between the LABBC, the city, utilities and the commercial real estate community produces real results.

“Ultimately, we serve as a bridge between the city, the utilities and the commercial real estate industry. We are the only ‘Better Buildings’ program in the country that has partnered directly with a municipal utility in this way,” says Hodgins. “It’s exciting to be doing work right now, because buildings are the through-line connecting all kinds of green infrastructure upgrades, from grid modernization to electrification of transportation, microgrids and energy storage.”

Leaders in Los Angeles who participate in LABBC’s Innovation Awards demonstrate exceptional ingenuity navigating the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, while remaining committed to environmental and social governance (ESG) goals and laying the groundwork for a green recovery. Their efforts promise to build a better, more resilient community and contribute to a recovery that truly creates a more sustainable future.


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For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser

Pictured Kilroy’s Westside Media Center, LABBC’s 2019 Energy Performance award winner

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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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