Two days ago, thumbing through the daily paper, I came across a half page displaying the outline of the draft EIR for Los Angeles County’s Climate Action Plan. As usual with government writings, and like most people, I intended to not go much beyond the first paragraph of a very dense document. But, perversely I did and came up with a vision of hundreds of county employees engaged in getting the plan into action. And, I was reminded that West Hollywood has a Climate Action Plan, as well. I ventured onto the city website to see what was up.
I found that the Climate Action Plan for West Hollywood has been cooking since 2019 and that the city’s employees are now much engaged in its implementation. A major step in advancing the Plan has been the adoption of a Smart City Strategic Plan and severe training in new collection and use methods for data. Smart Cities began to really take hold in 1994 when Amsterdam became the first “visual digital city”. Since then nearly every major city in every developed countries have adopted a Smart City Plan. The actual idea for such came from Los Angeles in 1972. All this sounds just great, very digitally up to date – and almost indecipherable to the average citizen like me who tend to thing of “climate action plans” to be more down to earth, centered more on actions we ordinary folk can manage.
When I consider what I feel is the single most important challenge we face on Earth, our obviously changing climate, I think of the practical actions a city could take to adapt. While certainly aware that asking for alterations in such areas as building codes is akin to screaming at the wind, this is where I’d start.
I’d require that all buildings feature white roofs as sun reflectors. Where possible on all buildings over three stories have solar panels with battery backup for emergency lighting and escape measures. Double pane windows be the norm and west and south facing windows have sunshades – exterior or interior. Consider replacing many central HVAC units with ductless with units baed upon space needs not just number of rooms. Low voltage LED lamps and bulbs. Proximity switches and more light-controlled switches. Ordinances regulating amount and hours of commercial lighting, indoor nd out. Ever fly into LA at night? Looks like the Ginza. Millions of lights everywhere. Why is any city so lit up? Commercial buildings must reduce nighttime lighting to only essentials. Security lighting should be more universal. Street lighting should illuminate the sidewalks and the streets not the tops of trees.
Grey water systems should be required in every building and the water recycled for plantings. Eventually cull out the great water using trees we now have for those which are hardier and require less water to thrive. Plantings must be more natiuve than exotic immigrants. The city should consider grants to citizens to encourage this sort of conservation. More city space for community gardens.
Just a handful of ideas but, like it or not, as our city becomes more dense in every urban sense these thoughts and others will be necessary to afford the sort of infrastructure we need – and want.