ucla green building symposium – resiliency: managing energy, water, and seismic risk and implications for property owners

On March 11, 2015 the Corporate Partners Program along with the Ziman Center for Real Estate and the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge hosted the annual Green Building Symposium* centered around the nexus of disaster response, sustainability, and resiliency. With scientists virtually certain that California will be rocked by a strong earthquake in the next 30 years according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report, it is imperative to focus on preparing for inevitable future disturbances that will impact resources. It is a public health and safety issue, and preparedness is an important step to making cities better for their inhabitants. The panel explored the possibility that buildings should receive quality ratings like restaurants with information on how secure a building is posted publicly and clearly. All agreed that Los Angeles has the opportunity to become a model for other metropolitan areas by implementing new policies and demonstrating their effectiveness.

Presentation highlights included:

Stuart Gabriel
UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate

Stuart Gabriel opened the symposium by stating that the buildings we work in, spaces where we live and play, and roads we travel on signify a city’s vitality. He added that “This is an issue not just for Angelenos, but other cities around the world dealing with natural disasters, energy and water consumption concerns, and the impacts of climate change.”

Matt Petersen
Chief Sustainability Officer
City of Los Angeles

Matt Petersen, Los Angeles’ first ever sustainability officer, delivered the keynote address. He stressed the need for greater responsibility for the human activities contributing to global warming and talked about transforming L.A., with a threefold focus on the environment, economy, and equity. He referenced the upcoming release of a Sustainable City Plan, which will detail initiatives to address increased heat, wildfires, drought, and sea-level rise.  In closing, Petersen encouraged the symposium audience to embrace the role of citizen entrepreneur – an individual who takes responsibility for their corner of the world.

David Hodgins
Executive Director
Los Angeles Better Building Council

David Hodgins moderated the panel and shared some of his insights on the theme. He outlined that cities must prepare for the unexpected and expected shocks, protect against downside risk, and be able to bounce back quickly. He further suggested that information prompts action and that “sustainability is about creating the world we’d like to see.”

Ted Bardacke
Deputy Director Sustainability
City of Los Angeles

Ted Bardacke discussed creating a policy framework for preparedness that factored in energy usage, earthquakes, and the state’s ongoing water situation. He elaborated on some of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plans including seismic retrofits for soft-story buildings and quake-proofing fixes to concrete buildings.

Wayne Ratkovich
President and CEO
Ratkovich Company

Wayne Ratkovich provided a social lens to the discussion by more strongly connecting the issue to human lives, not just buildings. He noted that promoting efficiency is important and both tenants and the marketplace are happy to disclose savings in an effort to encourage moves towards more secure and greener structures.

David Jacot
Director of Efficiency Solutions
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

David Jacot emphasized the importance of recovery and contingency plans in advance of when resources are compromised by a significant disruption. He addressed the DWP’s alternative energy goals (a supply mix that would include solar and wind power) and shared the department’s target of a 15 percent reduction in use by 2020.

John W. Wallace
UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor John Wallace explained his research. He spoke about simulating earthquakes in labs, testing models under various levels of shock, and then sharing the analysis with builders to improve structural components and systems.


*UCLA Green Building Symposium partners included: UCLA Sustainability, UCLA Grand Challenges – Sustainable LA, the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action, and the United States Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter