Maps highlight major opportunities to curb pollution, spur economic development
(Los Angeles, CA – November 13, 2013) Today, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and the Environmental Defense Fund released a set of maps titled “Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER): Atlas of Investment Potential for LA County,” which shows that nearly 29,000 local job years could be created if merely 5 percent of the rooftop solar energy generating potential in LA County was realized.
Capturing this 5 percent of solar capacity would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 million tons, equivalent to avoiding the emissions of more than 250,000 cars annually.
LASER maps also indicate that nearly 1.5 million buildings in LA County were built before energy efficiency codes went into effect. This means that 80% of all buildings in LA County have elevated potential for cost-saving, energy efficiency investments.
The LASER Atlas contains profiles of 9 sub-regions across LA County, mapping the areas in each sub-region where there is elevated potential for solar generation and energy efficiency improvements for local buildings. The LASER Atlas also identifies where these investments are needed the most. There is significant overlap between areas of strong physical potential as defined by infrastructure, and disadvantaged areas as identified by environmental health and socioeconomic data.
EDF commissioned and the Luskin Center produced the LASER Atlas to provide a tool to help local decision-makers and community members think strategically about investing new state funding. In particular, cap-and-trade proceeds stemming from AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, and Proposition 39, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, will results in billions of dollars to mitigate climate change pollution, expand renewable energy generation, and create jobs in California.
“Together, EDF and the Luskin Center have created a powerful resource that can help the LA region unlock a cleaner energy future,” said Colleen Callahan, deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. “Combined with California’s innovative climate policies, the ‘LASER’ Atlas can impact how the region invests new state resources to address pressing environmental challenges while providing job opportunities in its most impacted communities.”
“This study sends a clear message to Angelenos – the potential to invest in LA’s clean, renewable energy economy and build healthier communities is huge. We hope these maps become an effective tool for local elected officials and community advocates as they look to seize those opportunities,” said Jorge Madrid, coordinator of partnerships and alliances with EDF.
Many state leaders have already worked to ensure renewables, including solar, become a staple of California’s energy supply and economic growth. AB 1532, sponsored by the Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez, sets up a broad framework for how cap-and-trade auction proceeds should be allocated in the coming years. It includes investing in opportunities to help California reach its mandated goal of 33% renewable energy by 2020, and directing at least 25 percent of proceeds to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities.
“California has become a global leader in combating climate change, due in part to innovative state policies and projects like the ‘LASER’ maps that provide us with a pathway to lower emissions and a more sustainable economy,” said Speaker Pérez.
The LASER Atlas underscores how energy efficiency investments can reduce demand for electricity, thus lowering climate change emissions while at the same time making buildings more livable and saving money for residents, businesses and taxpayers.
This is important because under a “business-as-usual” scenario, the LA region is projected to experience a tripling in the number of extreme heat days in the downtown and urban core by mid-century, and four times the number of heat days in the valleys and at higher elevations, according to a separate UCLA study lead by Alex Hall, and mapped in the LASER Atlas.
Highlights of Media Coverage
Los Angeles Times: Rooftop solar could generate jobs
Greentech Media: New mapping tool designed to target clean energy investment in LA
Manhattan Beach Patch: UCLA study says tackling energy efficiency, climate change could bring economic gain
Solar Industry Magazine: Investment atlas a model for regional development
Sierra Sun Times: ULCA study shows more solar energy would create thousands of jobs
What Others Are Saying about LASER:
“The LASER maps help visualize not only the stark challenge we face in preparing the LA region for the impacts of climate change, but also the enormous opportunity we have to create good jobs and economic opportunity while meeting that challenge.”
- Kate Gordon, Vice President, Next Generation
“In its efforts to identify energy efficiency opportunities and create jobs, the Labor Management Cooperation Committee of IBEW Local 11 and Los Angeles Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association have found Profiles of Clean Energy Investment Potential in LA County to be a very valuable tool. The profiles have helped us target our marketing efforts, provide data to local political leaders and identify job growth opportunity.”
- Joe Sullivan, Director of Energy Solutions, IBEW/NECA/LMCC
“It’s critical that leadership in Greater Los Angeles build resilient communities as the region prepares for the impacts of climate change. The clean energy potential profiled in the LASER maps can serve as a guide to the leaders looking to achieve a cleaner, more prosperous future.”
- Krista Kline, Managing Director, LA Regional Collaborative
"In our work providing solar to low-income families, the Atlas is a welcome and helpful tool. It is striking to so clearly see the large opportunities in LA County for clean energy investment both in terms of potential solar capacity and the region's environmental and economic needs."
- Michael Kadish, Executive Director, GRID Alternatives-Greater Los Angeles
"These maps will give new urgency to the discussion about how we adapt to climate change at the neighborhood level. They will help us organize for more energy efficiency programs that keep our homes cool during extreme heat days, while creating jobs and helping us transition away from dirty energy."
- Jessica Goodheart, RePower LA Project Director, LANNE
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. For more information, visit www.edf.org/california. Follow us on Twitter @EDF_CA and read our blog at http://blogs.edf.org/californiadream
The Luskin Center (innovation.luskin.ucla.edu), unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with forward-looking civic leaders to address the most pressing issues confronting our community, nation, and world. They work closely with elected officials, non-profit, community, and business leaders to address environmental sustainability in Los Angeles through a mixture of scholarship, research, and community engagement.