Continuing our discussion of topics from Greenbuild, we now move to Los Angeles’ green building regulation. We have already highlighted Portland’s innovative Feebate enforcement mechanism. Los Angeles has created a very different enforcement mechanism that, frankly, may cause problems.
Under Los Angeles’ Green Building Program Standard of Sustainability, projects meeting certain size requirements must: (1) include a LEED AP on the project and (2) demonstrate that the project has met the intent of the USGBC’s LEED certified level. Importantly, Los Angeles’ Standard of Sustainability states that “formal certification by the USGBC is not required.”
Los Angeles’ plan to enforce the Standard differs significantly from other regulatory schemes and includes the following steps:
- Developers must submit plans and a preliminary LEED checklist to the Department of Building and Safety (DBS);
- DBS will then refer an applicant that meets the sustainability requirements to the Department of City Planning for clearance; and
- Every seventh project is then audited to ensure compliance with LEED certification.
The Standard never states the punishment if a project fails an audit. Absent a sufficiently punitive fine for failed audits, owners may be willing to gamble that they will not be audited. Furthermore, the Standard does not include any provision to ensure that green building strategies are incorporated into actual construction. Owners can simply eliminate green building strategies after the design phase and avoid punishment.
Which system do you prefer, Portland’s Feebate or Los Angeles’ Audits?