Green Urbanism Project: West Hollywood

Set new green building requirements for West Hollywood, California.


In 2007, Global Green helped develop the city's ambitious new green building requirements. The policy includes new construction, rehabs, and additions for private and public development. The only exemptions: duplexes and single-family homes. Requiring so many of the city's real estate projects to meet green building standards puts West Hollywood in the forefront of the move to thrust eco-friendly design closer to the mainstream of architecture and planning.

Developed with Global Green and community meetings that included developers, the idea was to make up local rules to be administered by local officials, not a national building council. The city installed a green resources center at city hall to make education simple.

Under the strict but more doable rules, developers can't get city construction permits until a project has earned at least 60 points (from a menu of 160 possible points). For example, planting canopy trees can get five points. Using exposed concrete floors can net developers up to five points, bamboo or other rapidly renewable floors up to three points. Cellulose wall insulation gets two points, Energy Star-certified lighting, three points. Projects can earn up to 10 points (1 point per kilowatt) for using solar panels. In addition, all developers must meet mandatory requirements, such as reducing to 20 percent the construction waste they haul to the dump, making all roofs solar panel-ready, and using low-volatility paints and Energy Star appliances.

The City of West Hollywood Green Building Program for Private Development won the California Chapter of the American Planning Association's (APA) 2008 "Outstanding Innovation in Green Community Planning" award.

In 2008, Global Green continued its work with West Hollywood, working on the Environmental Task Force to develop recommendations on how the the city could advance its sustainability efforts. 

Global Green's Green Urbanism team members Walker Wells and Troy Simpson led the 12-month process and drafted the final report that outlines short- and long-term suggestions and methods for measuring success, as identified by the task force. Recommendations are broken down across five categories:

  • Energy Use & Efficiency
  • Green Space & Open Space
  • Transportation & Mobility
  • Waste Reduction & Recycling
  • Water Use & Reduction

Some key examples of recommendations made by the task force include the creation of a bicycle transportation network, a City-managed energy efficiency and solar power information center, increased recycling requirements and infrastructure, and additional water conservation demonstration sites. All recommendations pivot on an integrated approach to education, the creation of a city “Sustainability Coordinator” position, and the establishment of indicators to track progress toward success in each of the respective categories. 

In taking the report to council, the staff report called for the City to hire a consultant to develop sustainability indicators and directed each city division responsible for the various recommendations in the report to return to council in 90 days with responses and plans for implementation.