Predicting Electricity, Water, and Natural Gas Consumption in Municipal Buildings in the City of Los Angeles

Project Summary

The prediction of rising temperatures in Los Angeles due to reliance on fossil fuels for energy is the driving force for reducing natural resource consumption. Water and electricity consumption are expected to rise along with a hotter climate. Reducing energy consumption is crucial to mitigating the effects of greenhouse emissions and the resulting strain on natural resources. This report provides a simple methodology for calculating energy use and thus discovering areas where consumption can be cut back. Currently, buildings in Los Angeles are the region's largest producer of Carbon Dioxide emissions, accounting for about half of the area's CO2 production. The equations put forth allow facilities managers to easily build their own models and more accurately predict energy consumption. The report identifies the key factors that inform consumption levels and advocates for the creation of comprehensive, publicly-available datasets to create more accurate models. The best way for LA to develop more accurate methods and equations is to adopt Title 24, an existing ordinance that uses models to forecast usage and reduce consumption. The study's equations offer a practical tool for building managers to evaluate consumption, cut use and cost, and thus transition Los Angeles away from non-renewable energy resources and unsustainable water consumption.  

Research Team

James Howe
Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Advisor: J.R. DeShazo
Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Advisor: Matt Petersen
President and CEO of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Former Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Los Angeles


Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Sustainability

Progress and Results

Howe identified different factors that contribute to a buildings' electricity, water, and natural gas consumption. He isolated key variables to produce three main equations that predict water, electricity, and natural gas consumption. In his survey of government buildings, Howe found that water and electricity consumption are expected to increase as temperatures rise, while natural gas is expected to decrease because it is mainly used for heating. Building managers can use Howe's findings and his equations to estimate natural resource consumption and develop more accurate models. Howe's limited access to data informed his reccomendation to improve data availability which will increasingly sharpen model accuracy.  Howe also discovered that adopting Title 24, an existing ordinance on Building Energy and Water Effiiency, is vital to disseminating reliable data.  

Project image showing aerial view of Los Angeles Neighborhood and Hills


Award Year