Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed an ambitious green building ordinance, appropriately, on Earth Day 2008.

The Private Sector Green Building Plan will create a series of requirements and incentives for developers to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards—the country’s strictest environmental building standards.

Expanding on the city’s existing municipal green building policies, the new ordinance would hold the private sector to a strict green code, by requiring all projects at or above 50,000 square feet—or 50 units—to comply with the general LEED-certified standard. In exchange, the city of Los Angeles will work with builders to speed up approvals and to remove obstacles in the municipal code for elements of sustainable building design, such as green rooftops, cisterns and permeable pavement. If a builder commits to pursuing LEED silver accreditation, the city will add expedited processing through the Planning and Public Works Departments.

In addition to direct incentives, Villaraigosa’s initiative will require the city to train case managers as LEED-accredited professionals

and will create one-stop checklists of all available city incentives to guide developers through the green building process.

The program will create a cross-departmental Sustainability Team, generating an unprecedented forum between developers and city staff to address issues arising on both a project basis and a policy level. Meeting regularly with the public, the team will file quarterly reports to the mayor on the city’s progress in implementing the Private Sector Green Building Initiative.