Stephanie Barbaran, Los Angeles Business Journal Interim Editor

Stephanie Barbaran, Los Angeles Business Journal Interim Editor

L.A. has pressing concerns and competing priorities in the form of its housing crisis, economic growth, environmental goals and more. But it also has numerous companies and organizations working to make progress in these areas. One such organization is the U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles, which launched its call for its 2022 Net Zero Accelerator cohort on Jan. 13. The call for entries closes March 20.

USGBC-LA describes the goals of the program as making “zero carbon, zero energy, zero water and zero waste buildings a reality.” It has focused on themes such as building decarbonization, sustainable infrastructure and clean construction. Past cohort members, such as Westwood-based CarbonBuilt Inc., have gone on to develop their brands and win competitions like those held by Culver City nonprofit XPrize Foundation.

“The built environment remains one of the most challenging areas to get new technology to market, and people are starting to wake up to the fact that buildings account for more than 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions,” Ben Stapleton, USGBC-LA executive director, told the Business Journal via email. “Framing and facilitating the conversation around a pilot the right way between a startup and building owner or manager is critical.”

One of the surprising developments to come out of the pandemic is that more people are embracing these ideas and potential collaborations to improve air quality, for example. And building owners are seeking additional technological advancements to make their properties attractive to prospective tenants.

“The good news is that during the pandemic, while buildings have been less occupied, many buildings have started to accelerate their own process of evaluating the technology in their building, especially as it concerns air flow, data analytics, and opportunities to reduce utility costs,” Stapleton said. “We are starting to see a shift in the market. … In the coming year we will start to see increased momentum with the City of L.A. and others to decarbonize not only our new buildings but our existing buildings.”

Stapleton said this will likely include advancements in electrification technologies such as heat pumps, especially to create the infrastructure for a more electrified future.
To that end, USGBC-LA’s Green Affordable Housing Program, for example, works with apartment owners in low-income communities to reduce their building operating costs and emissions. And in conjunction with those efforts, the Net Zero Accelerator deploys pilot programs of technologies to provide services such as EV charging and air purification.

USGBC-LA has started integrating technologies to help reduce building-level emissions and calculate personal greenhouse gas emissions. Stapleton said these technologies will enable people to see to see how the changes will make a real impact in their buildings.

As Covid appears to become endemic, efforts like this inspire hope that lasting, positive changes for L.A.’s infrastructure, growing leadership role in tech, and improvements for the city’s residents will be just as pervasive.

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