The Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge (LABBC) in June presented sustainability prizes to the “Best Buildings” in Los Angeles at its annual Innovation Awards. The ceremony, held in Downtown Los Angeles at the L.A. Cleantech Incubator in the Arts District, was held in person for the first time in three years. Among the companies honored were Hudson Pacific Properties, Barings, and CommonWealth Partners, all of whom are ULI Greenprint members.
The selection process identified those organizations which demonstrated exceptional ingenuity in energy and water efficiency, in concert with commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals for their buildings.
LABBC executive director David Hodgins pointed out that many of this year’s award winners were recognized not only for making the most of the tools and technologies available to them, but for applying them in ways that reach far beyond the boundaries of any one property.
“A lot of times we think of ‘innovation’ in terms of technological advancement, but this is also about innovation in process: the way we partner, the way we develop projects, the way we think about what’s possible and the way we engage with our communities,” Hodgins said.
“These winners are truly inspiring,” Hodgins said. “They’re showing it’s possible to make a real impact today, using today’s technology to overcome today’s biggest challenges.”
The energy and water use reductions achieved by this year’s participants bring Los Angeles closer to achieving the goals set forth by L.A.’s Green New Deal, which seeks to put Los Angeles on a course to reach the science-based targets laid out in the Paris Climate Accord.
To deliver on that aim, Los Angeles must by 2025 collectively reduce building energy use 22 percent per square foot and potable water use by 22.5 percent per capita.
“It is important that ULI participates with other organizations in our market as we tackle important urban issues,” said Marty Borko, executive director of ULI Los Angeles (ULI-LA). “LABBC is a key organization focused on the topics of resilience and sustainability in our community and has been a great partner with ULI. We continue to work with and support their ongoing efforts. The Innovations Award winners exemplify how the development community can lead the way. We are proud that both Commonwealth and Hudson Pacific are active ULI-LA members.”
LABBC presented awards to six winners in the following categories:
Industry Leader, Energy: Hudson Pacific Properties
When many commercial property owners were stepping back from energy efficiency efforts during the pandemic, L.A.-based real estate investment trust Hudson Pacific Properties ramped up efficiency efforts across millions of square feet of office, sound stages and other commercial properties to achieve 100 percentcarbon neutrality across operations five years ahead of its 2025 goal. Further demonstrating a commitment to innovation to win an LABBC award two years running, Hudson is currently testing 70+ pilot programs throughout its portfolio to enhance its agility around health, safety, efficiency and equity.
Industry Leader, Office: CommonWealth Partners
City National Plaza, the 3.7 million-square-foot (343,741 sq m)twin-tower property in Downtown Los Angeles, has won an LABBC award for the second year in a row for continued and creative leadership in decarbonization of the commercial office sector. As one of LABBC’s committed Low Carbon Leaders, owner CommonWealth Partners has put increased focus on resilience in the last year by initiating and exploring an opportunity through the Urban Land Institute’s global Net Zero Imperative to anchor the concept of a “distributed district energy system,” which would connect individual central plants at nearby buildings to a centralized system to optimize properties across the neighborhood for carbon intensity, cost and efficiency in real time. This all comes on top of the office property’s reduced energy use by more than 38 percent since 2013, which has put CommonWealth Partners 80 percent of the way toward its 2050 net zero emissions goal.
Industry Leader, Entertainment: Paramount
A 110-year-old studio lot on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, Paramount Pictures Studios has over the last 10 years cut its emissions in half, saving more than 132,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Last year, the studio doubled down on its efforts by joining the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge, committing to reduce emissions by another 50 percent over the next 10 years. Beyond that, the studio is a founding member of the Sustainable Production Alliance and recently achieved its largest number yet of green or gold seals from the Environmental Media Association for sustainable production.
Industry Leader, Affordable Multifamily: East L.A. Community Corporation (ELACC)
Based in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, ELACC is an ardent advocate for economic and social justice in densely populated, low-income urban neighborhoods. The nonprofit community development corporation last year began developing a decarbonization toolkit to simplify retrofit strategies for the affordable housing development community, particularly “mom and pop” owners who tend to have fewer resources in terms of time, money, and staff to implement what their tenants may view as “extra” when much of their energy must be focused first on meeting basic needs. Once complete, the toolkit promises to facilitate energy savings across the affordable multifamily industry, and across the City of Los Angeles.
Innovator of the Year: Barings LLC and Transwestern
The 25-story office building in Downtown Los Angeles known as 801 Tower is a relatively “small” building doing big things in its community. Recognized this year for their inspiring philanthropic efforts, owner Barings LLC was also recognized last year for exceptional water efficiency, a long-running effort that has seen a 65.8 percent reduction at the property since 2015. This year, the building’s property management team at Transwestern has taken its leadership role to the next level, reinvesting money it saved on water and energy during the pandemic into more than two dozen local nonprofit organizations—including those focused on health, housing, homelessness and the arts—in an effort to make a meaningful contribution to the vitality of the area after a challenging couple of years, both socially and economically.
The City of Los Angeles was recently named the top Energy Star city by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 2021 with more than 600 certified buildings. Visit LABBC’s website to learn more about each of this year’s awardees.