When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in 2006 that he wanted all building in Los Angeles to be green, Krista Kline, the city's urban planning and design coordinator, received a lot of phone calls. Both city officials and developers wanted to know exactly what the mayor meant.

That, Kline contends, was the first step in formulating a green building policy for the city. Now, less than two years later, the City of Angels has launched The Private Sector Green Building Program to cut carbon emissions by more than 80,000 tons by the year 2012.

As part of the plan, Los Angeles will require that all projects at or above 50,000 square feet—or 50 units—comply with the basic LEED certification standard. In exchange, it will work with builders to speed up approvals and remove obstacles in the municipal code for elements of sustainable building design. If a builder commits to pursuing LEED Silver accreditation, the city will expedite processing through the planning and public works departments.

Kevin Ratner, president of Forest City Residential West, is pleased that the city consulted with developers during the process. Developers already have to comply with California's Title 24 environmental code, so the Los Angeles codes shouldn't be too onerous, he says.

Before Los Angeles required LEED-certified buildings, REthink Development planned Cherokee Lofts in the City of Angels.
Pugh + Scarpa Architects Before Los Angeles required LEED-certified buildings, REthink Development planned Cherokee Lofts in the City of Angels.

The city will use an outside firm to audit every seventh project under the program.

“If we find that one developer we audit is not [following LEED], we'll make them do it,” Kline says, whose office has authority to change the program, even to audit every building if necessary. “We will be able to make adjustments,” she says.