Beveridge & Diamond

Los Angeles Green Building Law Applies to Private Developers

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., May 8, 2008

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On April 22, 2008, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa signed into law the Private Sector Green Building Plan, one of the nation’s first green building laws requiring private  property owners to build green.  The Ordinance is one element of the “Green LA Plan,” which calls for Los Angeles to reduce its carbon footprint by 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.  Los Angeles estimates that the Private Sector Green Building Plan will reduce carbon emissions by 80,000 tons by 2012.

Under the Ordinance, all new projects greater than 50,000 square feet or 50 units must comply with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED) “certified” standards.  This requirement also applies to certain rehabilitations and alterations.  For projects pursuing at least a LEED “silver” rating, the Ordinance offers an expedited permit process.  The Ordinance also creates a process to review the city code to create incentives and remove obstacles to using environmentally sound materials and processes, and it establishes a “Sustainability Team” to review green building policies and specific projects.

L.A.'s initiative follows a trend in other major U.S. cities aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.  In San Francisco, new construction and significant renovations of municipal buildings greater than 5000 square feet must meet the LEED “silver” standard.  In addition, the San Francisco City Council is currently considering a private sector green building law that would require projects greater than 25,000 square feet to meet the LEED “gold” designation.  Washington, D.C. passed a groundbreaking green building law in 2006 that currently applies to municipal buildings and certain private developments.  By 2012,  new construction and substantial improvements of a nonresidential privately-owned projects greater than 50,000 square feet will be required to achieve certain LEED certifications.  These initiatives and other legal and regulatory developments at the federal, state, and local levels -- including tax credits, financial incentives, and stricter municipal energy efficiency codes -- are pushing the green building sector from a purely voluntary standard to one heavily influenced by legal and regulatory regimes. 

Beveridge & Diamond helps clients comply with these new mandates and identify new market opportunities in this emerging sector.  Our green building practice builds on the Firm’s extensive experience in environmental, land-use, real estate and project development law.   We have helped clients in several sectors identify proposed and enacted green building provisions at the federal, state, and local levels, in order to comply with green building requirements and also to take advantage of marketing opportunities created by green building incentives.  In addition, our expertise in other practice areas -- including energy efficiency and climate change laws and land-use and planning requirements -- provides our clients with broad capabilities across the fields related to this sector. 

For more information about either the Green Building Act of 2006 or the LEED Building Rating System, please contact David M. (“Max”) Williamson at (202) 789-6084 ( or K. Russell LaMotte at (202) 789-6080 (