For Immediate Release: May 27, 2022


LOS ANGELES — Today, the Los Angeles City Council adopted Councilmember Nithya Raman’s motion, co-sponsored by Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, to require all new residential and commercial buildings in Los Angeles to be built so that they will achieve zero-carbon emissions. As the gravity and urgency of the climate emergency become more apparent with each passing year, the City of Los Angeles must do all in its power to reduce its carbon emissions and move toward a sustainable, zero-carbon economy. 

“Today is a new day for Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Raman. “With this legislation, we are drastically transforming the physical infrastructure of our City to meet the moment our climate crisis demands. By working to achieve zero-carbon emissions in all new residential and commercial construction, we are one step closer to better indoor air quality, lower construction costs, fewer safety risks for buildings, and a cleaner environment for all Angelenos.”

Buildings in Los Angeles account for 43% of greenhouse gas emissions—more than any other sector in the city, including transportation. The City must ensure new buildings being constructed today, rather than relying on fossil fuels as an energy source, are built to leverage an increasingly clean electric grid, which is set to be carbon-free by 2035, if not sooner. Zero-carbon buildings have better indoor air quality, lower construction costs, fewer safety risks—especially during earthquakes—and lower climate emissions than equivalent mixed-fuel buildings. 

“Forging a carbon neutral Los Angeles means cutting emissions from buildings, which presents one of our greatest opportunities to stem the tide of the climate crisis and return stronger from the pandemic,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This motion from Councilmember Raman is a critical step toward a zero carbon future – and will accelerate our path to zero carbon buildings, create good paying jobs, and prioritize the well-being of our most vulnerable communities.” 

This motion further stipulates that when developing its decarbonization plan, the City must center equity, energy justice, housing justice, and environmental justice and incorporate the recommendations put forth by the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office in its upcoming Climate Equity LA Series. Councilmember Raman emphasized, “The importance of doing this work in a way that centers equity and environmental justice cannot be overstated – no one must be left behind. We cannot balance the bill of decarbonizing our buildings on the backs of renters who are already struggling to make ends meet. Our motion requires that the policies we develop here protect renters and do not negatively impact affordable housing construction.”

“I grew up, and still live today, in a community where multiple families cram into a single house and where garages are converted into apartments with an extension cord providing the power,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “This legislation is what the people in my community have been begging for because they’ve seen their neighbors dying of health effects related to their living conditions.”

Agustin Cabrera, Policy Director of SCOPE and member of the LEAP LA Coalition, stated, “Community input is necessary to get climate policies right, and we appreciate Councilmember Raman working with us to prevent any unintended consequences and ensuring that impacted communities have time to engage with and understand this policy before it is enacted. We know building decarbonization is a critical step in reaching the city’s climate goals, and we are hopeful this motion will deliver cleaner air, healthy homes, and good jobs to frontline communities that are disproportionately burdened by climate change.”

“The recommendation adopted by Council today is an important first step in decarbonizing new construction in the City of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, the chair of the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River committee. “In my committee, we are moving forward on our ‘LA100’ plan to transition away from dirty energy, and achieve 100% carbon-free energy in Los Angeles.”

“As our climate-exacerbated megadrought gets worse by the day, we need to drastically speed up our greenhouse gas emissions reductions; new building requirements are an easy and essential step,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, co-author and author of the Council’s first building decarbonization motion. “Our Climate Emergency Mobilization Office has already been engaging lower income, frontline and labor communities in deep discussions on how to ensure these policies will prove positive for all Angelenos, from cleaner air and better health outcomes in homes to a more stable climate outside.”

Councilmember Raman’s motion instructs the Department of Building and Safety (DBS), with assistance from the City Attorney, the CEMO, and all relevant departments, to report back within 180 days with a plan for the implementation of an ordinance or regulatory framework effective on or before January 1, 2023.