Mapping Historic Energy-Related Zoning and Sustainable Physical Futures in Los Angeles

Project Summary

Zoning and land use policy play a key role in Los Angeles' energy infrastructure and determine what energy systems are prioritized to power the region.  Reliance on fossil fuels for electricity and rising temperatures threaten worsened environmental consequences that will burden communities across L.A. This project takes a historical look at Los Angeles' land use policy and zoning to identify how the region can spur systemic change to transition towards renewable energy resources. This research shows that socially and energetically responsible land use policy can provide significant gains towards reaching Sustainable LA's goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. Specifically, zoning can be used to improve solar orientation of buildings, increase solar energy prevalence and efficiency, regulate oil refineries and hazardous facility safety, and develop more sustainable transportation networks. Zoning development is also a site where local, municipal, state, and federal policy interact with business, industry and utilities.  Land use strategies can improve coordination between policy and local organizations, planning initiatives, and enterprise. The assessment on zoning and policy tackles the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge's Five-Year Work Plan goals of mapping sites for renewable energy infrastructure, evaluating strategies for generating and distributing renewable energy infrastructure, and identifying the role of regulating agencies and governmental structures. A look at infrastructure and the outside forces that determine the energy landscape lays a foundation that works to support land use projects that help achieve renewable energy goals and communicate the impact of zoning policies.

Research Team

Heidi Alexander
Architecture, Arts & Architecture

Advisor: Dana Cuff
Architecture & Urban Design, Arts & Architecture

Progress and Results

Alexander created a framework for developing and accelerating adaptations in land use and building zoning that will help reach a renewable energy future for Los Angeles by 2050. The report covers past and present issues involving the intersection of land use and energy systems, and opportunities and barriers to energy-based zoning in L.A. Alexander outlined relationships between various local, state, and federal agencies and policies that relate to land use and energy systems and provides policy and research recommendations. Zoning changes would not only improve infrastructure but be a key method for reducing proximity to hazardous areas and communicating new standards in civic energy. Through clarification of land use and energy production and consumption, Alexander explained how land use policy can be a proactive tool for reconstructing the Los Angeles urban energy network.  

Other Information of Interest

Project image showing an aerial view of Los Angeles marina area


Award Year