Anthropogenic drivers of climate change threaten the sustainability of the planet. Fossil fuel-based energy systems threaten to collide with population growth. Globally, sustainability policy on climate change mitigation and adaptation has focused on energy conservation and conversion toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
While systemic energy conservation presents itself as the immediate challenge, in Southern California, cars rule. Although California as a whole has reduced per capita gas consumption, estimates by Next 10 researchers suggest that petroleum accounts for the greatest total share of Californiaʼs energy demand, 43.7 percent. That study also suggests that multiple factors, usually not examined systemically or holistically, contribute to continued growth in demand. Everyday experience illustrates, for example, disconnects in regional sustainability policies, practices and investments in intermodality versus local regulations such as subdivision requirements and zoning. Large unrelieved parking areas lining strip malls, usually without sidewalks, occur as the pro formacollateral result of the off-street parking requirements for the commercial land uses permitted in the malls. These requirements reflect anticipated peak demand conditions; therefore no flexibility or resilience can be built into calculations in a single-mode dependent transportation environment.
And in spite of significant improvements in Los Angeles to air quality performance standards and transit investments, rising vehicle miles traveled and associated emissions challenge livability and sustainability, especially for populations with limited choices of housing, employment and travel.
Domestic, commercial and industrial electrical energy generation infrastructure is linked inextricably to water. Drinking water is pumped over the Sierras to augment other water sources in the Los Angeles Basin and the Colorado River. In Los Angeles, 66% of the water budget for LADPW and 30% of the energy budget is for conveyance.
To cope with an average annual increase in California electricity consumption of 2%, windfarms in the San Bernardino Valley, and solar farms to satisfy the 2020 targets of 33% of production from renewables combined with smart grid technology promise significant energy conservation futures for Southern California. Meanwhile, however, domestic solar power generation, though incentivized, still remains uneconomical for most homeowners. And green roofs, increasingly used in other climates for their insulating and other mitigating advantages with respect to heat islands and greenhouse gases, are seen as less cost effective than other kinds of energy saving roofs
In Southern California, this regional microcosm of global problems of energy conservation and conversion and emissions reductions shapes the Redford Conservancy’s commitment to analysis, discourse and decision support toward sustainability and resilience. Remaking sustainable connections means unraveling unsustainable relationships, some hidden in plain sight by fragmentation. Working toward comprehensive solutions across regionally specific and generalizable enerrgy-defined problems, the Conservancy is particularly focused on integrative analysis and discourse toward conservation across energy-related challenges.
Arup modeling estimates