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City of West Hollywood – Green Building Program to Address Climate Change

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Green Building

Comprehensive green building programs that emphasize interior and exterior green measures, as well as provisions for bike parking and for future solar, can reduce energy use, vehicle travel, and thus greenhouse gas emissions.

Community:West Hollywood (Los Angeles County)

Population: 37,500


West Hollywood requires all new and remodeled development to meet minimum green building standards. Commercial and multi-family residential earn points and are offered non-monetary incentives to encourage greater use of green measures.

Program Highlights

  • Customized green development standard establishes minimum green requirements for all new and remodeled construction projects.
  • Customized green building point system specifically for all new commercial and new residential projects with three or more units.
  • Minimum number of points must be earned with incentives for those that earn at least 50 percent above minimum.
  • Reduced parking, density bonus and flexible open space among incentives offered.

Lessons Learned

  • Take time to assess unique aspects of your own city or county; don’t assume what works in another community will work in yours.
  • Set a green point threshold at a level that is attainable by all, but still pushes the envelope beyond business as usual.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

In 2005, West Hollywood established a Green Ribbon Committee to explore green building options. After investigating programs in several other cities, the city developed its own customized green standards and point system. It also consolidated and amended several existing green requirements in various existing city codes.

In late 2007, the city adopted the green building point system and green building ordinance. It includes mandatory standards for all development, including new residential buildings, remodels and tenant improvements. In addition, it adopted a point system for new commercial and new residential projects of three or more units.

Customized Green Standards

West Hollywood’s customized green standards and incentives are tailored to the needs of the community. The basic green standards apply to all projects and require construction and waste demolition diversion, promote indoor air quality through the use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and finishes, increase energy efficiency through the use of Energy Star appliances, and include bicycle parking in residential projects and accommodation of future solar photovoltaic systems.

The city’s customized green building point system offers up to 160 points in 12 categories, with a minimum requirement of 60 points. Projects that earn at least 90 points (or 50 percent more than required) are eligible for a variety of incentives unique to building issues in the city. These incentives include:

  • Allowing open space requirements to be met with a rooftop garden
  • Flexibility in meeting open space requirements, such as using side setbacks as open space
  • Allowing one additional unit not to exceed 700 square feet
  • Parking reductions for commercial projects
  • Increased floor-to-area ratios (FAR) for commercial projects
  • Expedited permit processing
Designed to Respond to Local Development Conditions

West Hollywood’s green point system is intended to address development conditions and issues in this urban city, where infill development and remodeling on small lots is the norm. The city’s program is designed to allow development trade-offs in return for more sustainably built projects.

In designing its green building program, the city considered local circumstances, such as available materials, infill and development trends in the city, how best to work within existing zoning code requirements, as well as existing procedural opportunities and constraints.

As of May 2009, West Hollywood processed over one million square feet of residential and commercial space using the green building ordinance.

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.

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