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World's Biggest Carbon Emitters Convene in LA to Ramp Up Efforts Around Climate Change

At the upcoming U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit in Los Angeles, both nations are expected to announce actions to combat ongoing climate change. A leader in energy efficiency, Los Angeles is an ideal city to host the summit.
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United States and China to Meet for Smart Cities Summit

News broke in November of last year that the world's largest developing nation and the world's most developed nation would ramp up efforts to work together in fighting climate change. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping made a historic joint announcement on climate change in 2014, establishing ambitious climate pledges and committing to work together, and with other countries, to achieve a global climate agreement in Paris this December.

At the upcoming U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit in Los Angeles, both nations are expected to announce actions to combat ongoing climate change. A leader in energy efficiency, Los Angeles is an ideal city to host the summit, the first major event held since the 2014 presidential agreement between the two countries. This convening could not be timelier for the City of Los Angeles as Mayor Eric Garcetti released the city's first-ever sustainability plan in April of this year, titled Sustainable City pLAn.

The Sustainable City pLAn focuses on the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social; and sets the bold goal of reducing city emissions by 80 percent by 2050, with a short term target of a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2017, both compared to 1990 levels. Buildings are heavily targeted under the mayor's plan as they are the largest consumers of electricity in the city, and are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions Los Angeles has already established a successful approach with its Green Building Program.

The Green Building Program requires larger structures to be certified under the 15 year-old LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System and mandates that all new municipal construction or major renovations to municipally owned buildings must achieve, at minimum, LEED Silver certification. To date, the city has certified more than 50 of their buildings, making up more than 2 million square feet of building space, under LEED. With the new plan, the city aims for a 30 percent reduction in energy use across all building types by 2035 - backed up by an array of additional policy measures and actions to drive improvement in all building types, including private sector.

With programs like the China Green Building Label, LEED and WELL Building Standard, China is continuing to scale its leadership by adopting and embracing green building practices that will reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions from buildings while creating healthier indoor spaces for occupants.

For example, the government-supported Hongqiao Central Business District -- a roughly 1.8 square mile area in Shanghai adjacent to the Hongqiao International Airport and high-speed railway station -- is being developed into a low-carbon city anchored by green and healthy buildings. Hongqiao CBD will be a vital vehicle for developing Shanghai as a comprehensive, international transportation hub serving the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region.

Additionally, the Fortune 500 company Shougang Group -- one of China's largest steel companies - has demonstrated tremendous leadership in this space. Under China's 12th five-year plan their main factory, a heritage project in Beijing, is being renamed and transformed into a green ecological demonstration area. The "New Shougang Advanced Business Zone" will be a worldwide transformation model of a classic industrial park.

As city leaders from China and the U.S. come together in Los Angeles this month to share actions toward a sustainable future, they should pay close attention to their buildings. Leading cities are demanding high-performing buildings - to help the bottom line, improve air quality, improve human health and wellness, and provide co-benefits, while reducing buildings' contribution to climate change. One need look no further than the summit's host city for inspiration and results. The green building community is committed to climate action, and we look forward to supporting cities in both countries as they craft their next steps to impact climate change. USGBC will be attending this important meeting and remains ready and willing to aid in the evolution of a cleaner, greener future for all. Together, cities will lead the way and make national impact possible.

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