08 March 2008

I wear my sunglasses at night.

The headquarters for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, or LADWP, sits about a mile north of my apartment building, a few blocks west of City Hall, and near Los Angeles's newest architectural icons, Disney Concert Hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels. It's an attractive building that seems to hover over water, which in reality is just a large water feature that surrounds the building and helps to cool it; its adjacent parking structure has an umbrella of solar PV collectors.

Still, even though this 1965 structure uses environmental design techniques not seen in much of the city, most people I know here complain about it because, "the lights in that building are always on. They are the DWP. Shouldn't they turn their lights off at night?"

Well, I am here to tell you that the LADWP, despite appearances, is doing its part. I just got my latest power bill which included a tiny brochure about the DWP's conservation members. And since I'm probably the only person in LA who actually reads stuff like this, I will tell you what they have to say:

"With such a high level of visibility, energy conscious customers often call our 24-hour Customer Call Center and ask why lights remain on in the building after normal working hours. Allow us to shed some light on the subject. (Oh, LADWP, you're so funny....)

-The building lights are programmed to turn on at 6 am and turn off at 6 pm M-F, and stay off throughout the weekend. Once the lights have been automatically turned off, building occupants can manually turn lights on in order to continue working after-hours. During the 'off' period, the control system automatically sweeps the entire building turning most lights off on an hourly basis.

-Unlike other downtown buildings, the windows at LADWP headquarters are not heavily tinted, which gives the appearance that lights have not been turned off.

-The LA Fire Department requires emergency lighting throughout the building at all times.

-There are many business operations in the building that function 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

-Most building maintenance and construction work is done after normal business hours to minimize disruptions and ensure safety."

The brochure goes on to describe other conservation measures in place, such as recently improved lighting efficiency and restrooms retrofitted with low-flow toilets.

I don't know about you, but I find this type of communication by a government agency rather impressive. Maybe I am not used to living in California yet but I'm amazed that not only are they trying to save energy, they are actually telling us about it. This from a 40-year-old building whose 2- or 3-year-old neighbors have no discernible energy conservation measures that I know of (but they had to pass Title 24, right?). I mean, who's responsible for new institutions in this city and why can't they emulate the LADWP's model? Of course it's not perfect...perfect would be carbon-neutral, and I don't know any institutional buildings that do that yet. But the standard is there, why can't we have that again?

In the meantime, have a look at LADWP's Green LA initiatives....and turn your lights off!

LADWP, with its high-efficiency emergency lights on, thank you very much


Ryan W said...

If it makes you feel any better, I read the little insert as well. We're such geeks ;-)

kristin w. said...

I only read one line on the bill... you know which one, so of course it took your blog to make me aware of such things ;)

although.... I am still curious why they couldn't be hassled to turn ALL their lights off on the 'lights out LA' night a few months back. That should have warrented a special schedule change.