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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Let’s Keep Sustainability Discussion Going in 2009

One of the admittedly few bright spots in this year for me has been the mainstreaming, if you will, of the sustainability, or “green,” movement into our everyday lives. I’m not a committed tree hugger I’ve never had a Sierra Club membership nor do I own a pair of Birkenstocks but in the past couple of years like so many of you, I’ve become more educated about sustainability issues and, thanks to Al Gore and friends, have come to feel a great sense of urgency about the need for all of us to make major changes in business as usual. Even if you still believe that global warming or climate change is not occurring as a direct result of human activity, there are other very compelling reasons to change your ways. Check out The Story of Stuff online. It’s a 20-minute animated video that simply and comprehensively describes the impact that rampant consumerism is having and will continue to have on the environment. A key principle of sustainability is to think globally but act locally. As a representative from the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power put it at a meeting I attended recently, it does not make sense for a huge new wind farm being built in Tehachapi to use turbines built in India and controllers built in Germany when there are plenty of manufacturing facilities right here in the San Fernando Valley that could just as easily produce high quality parts and pieces locally. How about retooling some of the aerospace and aviation plants? A group of like-minded individuals has been meeting over the past several months to form what is being called the Valley Green Team. The big reveal is planned for February at the Valley Business Expo but what I can tell you is that there are people from a wide sector of business and public sector institutions that all believe that our region is perfectly poised to be the hub of clean tech for all of Southern California. The Green Team is not planning on reinventing the wheel, either, but has as its primary goal to facilitate connections between industries, consultants, researchers, utilities and end users. Stay tuned for more on that. About six months ago, North Hollywood became the home of REC Solar’s new Southern California hub. The San Luis Obispo-based company plans, designs, installs and maintains solar systems for commercial and consumer applications. They’ve already completed a system for apparel manufacturer Jerry Leigh, in Van Nuys that should be live before the end of the year. Buildings with solar or other energy-efficient improvements command greater interest, asserts broker John La Spada of CB Richard Ellis in Ventura. In April I wrote about a building he represents in Panorama City that invested in an overall energy efficiency improvement including adding solar panels. Since then, “interestingly, vocational or trade schools have shown the most interest in the building,” said La Spada. “It seems like the energy part has really helped us because these schools tend to operate during a much longer time period during a day than normal businesses, and so their energy savings are more dramatic.” Soon more building owners and prospective purchasers or lessors will be able to learn more about the energy efficiency of their property. A new state law, AB 1103, requires that beginning in January, electric and gas utilities must maintain energy consumption data on all nonresidential buildings to which they provide service. They will then be required, once an owner requests the information, to upload their records to the Energy Star Portfolio Manager an online tool maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By 2010, anyone who wants to buy, finance or lease a building will be allowed to see not only information on that building, but also to measure it with other comparable buildings. Your Two Cents on LEED The U.S. Green Building Council, the organization responsible for LEED ratings, is asking for public comments on a new category: Neighborhood Development. Visit the USGBC.org website by Jan. 5 to provide your comments. The program will evaluate projects on criteria concerning their location and linkage to the community at large in addition to green construction and other sustainability elements. Breaking News The Business Journal has confirmed that actor Will Smith is moving his production company, Overbrook Entertainment, to Studio City. Tenant improvements and other upgrades to The Campus building at 11331 Ventura Blvd., owned by Smith, are nearly complete, according to broker Dennis Earls of Spencer Group Investments in the Re/Max Commercial Sherman Oaks office. The Overbrook suites should be occupied in the first quarter of 2009, he said. Also debuting in the building is a new skin spa called Face to Face Los Angeles which had its soft opening this week. Plans for a grand opening celebration are in the works, said partner Robert Van Den Hurk. Las Lomas Loses in Court Just days after learning that Dan Palmer had resigned as president of the Las Lomas Land Company, a judge ruled that the City was not legally required to re-open its file on the project. In March, the Los Angeles City Council voted 10 to 5 to stop processing the application for the project. The City of Santa Clarita had previously rejected Las Lomas’ application for annexation. “An appeal is likely,” said Carlyle W. Hall, Jr., counsel for Las Lomas, in a prepared statement. The company declined to answer any questions about their plans. And finally, my best wishes to all of you for a warm and cozy holiday. See you next year! Staff Reporter Linda Coburn can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or at lcoburn@sfvbj.com .

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