Climate Resolve

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 1, 2021

CENTENNIAL AT TEJON RANCH IS SETTING NEW STANDARDS FOR FIRE SAFE, SUSTAINABLE, AFFORDABLE MASTER PLANNED COMMUNITIES IN CALIFORNIA

In a major new agreement, the master planned community of Centennial, which has already committed to include 18% affordable housing units, will now achieve a net zero carbon project status that exceeds California’s climate goals; and include new wildfire resilience measures to significantly enhance safety both in and outside the community.

(Tejon Ranch, CA) Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC) and Climate Resolve, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, today announced an unprecedented agreement regarding the Centennial at Tejon Ranch master planned community. The planned development of more than 19,300 homes and 10.1 million square feet of commercial and industrial space, which has received approvals from Los Angeles County, may now proceed to the next steps in the California development process. 

Centennial, which has committed to include 3,480 affordable housing units as a part of its Los Angeles County approvals, will now also become a greater net zero project, meeting and exceeding all the state’s goals and requirements to combat climate change.

The enhanced climate and wildfire resilience measures contained in the agreement set a new standard for development in California and represent the largest climate investment by a housing development in the state, a milestone achieved through the cooperation of both Tejon Ranch and Climate Resolve.

As part of the agreement, Climate Resolve has agreed to dismiss with prejudice its claim that the County of Los Angeles violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved Centennial in May of 2019. 

With the dismissal of the lawsuit, Tejon Ranch Co. retains the legislative approval needed to continue the process that will lead to the development of a well-planned and critically needed community that will bring thousands of homes and jobs to Los Angeles County.  

The agreement includes the following measures and features.

  • Net Zero GHG Emissions: The community commits to net zero GHG emissions by reducing to zero all emissions through significant on-site and off-site commitments. A large component prioritizes disadvantaged communities, followed by other projects within Los Angeles County, and other parts of southern and central California.
  • Electric Vehicle Advancement: Advance the EV future through commitments to install almost 30,000 chargers within and outside the community. Provide incentives to support the purchase of 10,500 electric vehicles.
  • Wildfire Prevention: Funding for on-site and off-site fire protection and prevention measures, including fire-resilient design, planning, and vegetation management with benefits to neighboring communities.
  • Unrivaled Transparency: Provide annual public reports and create an organization empowered to monitor progress to ensure the agreement results in the benefits identified. 

 “We are pleased to reach this agreement with Climate Resolve that will enable us to address California’s housing crisis in the most sustainable manner possible,” said Gregory S. Bielli, President and CEO of Tejon Ranch Company.  “Tejon Ranch has a legacy of environmental stewardship, as well as using its land to meet major needs in California.  More than ever, the state desperately needs the 19,333 housing units Centennial will provide, including the nearly 3,500 affordable units.  At the same time, California needs to achieve its climate goals.  This agreement outlines a way to create this unique climate-friendly, fire-safe, affordable mixed use master planned community that helps California address its housing needs consistent with the state’s policy goals.”

“Working with Tejon Ranch, we’ve been able to secure the largest climate commitment by a housing development in the state’s history,” said Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Climate Resolve.  “We’re setting a new climate standard that surpasses anything previously done in the state. Our agreement builds upon the 2008 Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement and takes the added steps of further protecting the land from the threat of wildfire and zeroing-out greenhouse gas emissions at the Centennial project.”

Both Tejon Ranch Company and Climate Resolve look forward to working together to implement an agreement that sets a new precedent for the development of fire safe, sustainable communities that will meet the needs of California today, and in the future.

####

Contact:

For Tejon Ranch:

Barry Zoeller, Senior VP of Corporate Communications & Investor Relations

bzoeller@tejonranch.com | (661) 663-4212

For Climate Resolve:

Bryn Lindblad, Deputy Director

blindblad@climateresolve.org | (213) 634-3790 x 102

It was another smoldering day in Southern California in 2014, when our Climate Smart Schools team started to conduct energy audits for the Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD). Thermometers read 100°F in the classrooms. The elementary school kids were putting their heads down on their desks to try to cool off. Teachers walked along the rows of desks with water-filled spray bottles to mist and cool their students. 

Only 15% of the buildings in the district’s 70 campuses had air conditioning. Much of the A/C that did exist was damaged, inoperable, or inefficient.

Some of the teachers experimented with large floor fans. Needless to say, not all solutions are created equal. The loud fans blew students’ papers off their desks and made it difficult for the kids to focus or to hear their teachers. One teacher spoke into a microphone headset connected to a speaker system to try to teach students over the noise of the fans. 

School districts throughout the state are trying to educate the next generation while enduring the increasing impacts of climate change in the classroom. Extreme heat makes it significantly harder for teachers to teach and for students to learn. We recommend reading the research of our colleagues at UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation showing that “learning decreases with an increase in the number of hot school days.”

Although it is a low-income district with a culture of frugality, GGUSD ultimately passed a school district bond to pay for new HVAC on every campus. However, the new A/C would pose another major challenge: As a district with a tight budget, GGUSD’s energy costs could skyrocket; it was projecting energy cost increases of more than 100% from the A/C. Not to mention paying off the bonds. GGUSD would need to find a way to reduce its energy consumption with building retrofits and energy efficiency measures. 

Thankfully, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Prop 39) provided $11.5 million for energy efficiency to GGUSD. 

A decade ago, Climate Resolve helped place Prop 39 on the ballot – with major kudos going to Tom Steyer and Kevin de Leon for this successful initiative. Prop 39 closed a corporate tax loophole and allocated $2.5 billion over 5 years to energy efficiency and solar investments in California’s public schools. 

After conducting energy audits, Climate Resolve and the firm EcoMotion provided its assessment and recommendations to GGUSD’s Facilities Department to help the district tie together energy efficiency measures as part of a district-wide building modernization effort.

So what happened in the seven years since our initial audits?

The district implemented its comprehensive building modernization program that included LEDs, greater daylighting, and lighting controls; cool roofs that reflect the sun’s energy and moderate classroom temperatures; insulation, double-pane windows, and other updates to building envelopes; high efficiency pool heaters, pool covers, and electric pumps that reduce natural gas use; new digital thermostats with centralized controls; and an energy management system that we helped them install to track real-time energy usage, water consumption, and metrics for further improvement. 


And that’s just to name a few. From renovating the electrical circuitry and plumbing to upgrading the telecommunications systems to providing new drinking fountains to retrofitting the schools for better accessibility for the diabled, there was hardly a crevice of GGUSD that wasn’t significantly upgraded by the district’s Facilities Department. In addition to Prop 39 funds, Climate Resolve also helped GGUSD win a $2 million state DROPS grant for drought mitigation. Then we helped them manage the design and development of natural stormwater capture and drought mitigation solutions at three high schools, and also implemented a climate education and outreach program with students, teachers, and staff. These new bioswales and drought-tolerant landscapes have become living laboratories for GGUSD’s science classes.

For the past 7 years, our team took the Prop 39 paperwork off the hands, desks, and desktops of GGUSD’s Facilities Department. We managed all of the reporting requirements for the uses of funds and project performance metrics to the California Energy Commission, which approved GGUSD’s final report this month. So it’s time to celebrate!

In addition to assisting GGUSD’s physical transformation, Climate Resolve supported a cultural transformation at the district. Seven years ago, the district was concerned that going green would compromise its need for fiscal frugality. Today the district is enjoying energy cost savings even with new A/C. And the district wants to do more.

“Our work at Garden Grove Unified is proof that improving a building’s energy efficiency is essential when addressing climate resiliency,” said Thelma Briseno, Climate Resolve’s Senior Director of Energy & Water Programs. “Insulation, double pane windows, and cool roofs all contributed to the overall energy savings even though GGUSD added an enormous amount of energy use from installing much needed air conditioning to classrooms.”

But what do the students notice the most? They can learn comfortably.

“Students and teachers are now able to concentrate on learning,” Briseno explained. “Forcing our kids to concentrate in 100°F temperatures is insufferable. Now GGUSD can continue providing award-winning education while successfully minimizing the impacts of extreme heat.”

Climate Resolve is GGUSD’s proud partner. If GGUSD can do it, then other school districts can also become resilient to climate change and foster better places to learn for future generations. 

Greetings from Glasgow, site of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

I’m here, representing Climate Resolve, at the invitation of the UK government.

Our bus shelter project is getting featured. We’re one of twelve finalists from around the globe that will take the stage at the Climate Challenge Cup Innovation Showcase and Award Ceremony later this week. If you’d like to cheer us on, you can livestream it on the main COP26 YouTube feed this Wednesday, November 10, 10:00am-12:00pm PST. 

The project is a seemingly simple one – put bus shelters where they’re needed most – and yet achieving that simple goal requires advocacy. Right now, less than 1 in 4 bus stops in the City of Los Angeles have shelters. Most of the existing shelters are located in neighborhoods where ad dollars from the marketing panels prove profitable. It’s as if the prime function of a bus shelter is that of a billboard. Where bus riders could really use shade is a secondary consideration.

Climate Resolve staff worked with the public agency StreetsLA to introduce heat exposure and transit ridership data as the primary factors that will determine where new bus shelters should be sited. We partnered with community-based organizations Pacoima Beautiful, Slate-Z, and Investing in Place to engage with transit riders, to demand more bus shelters. Our advocacy has resulted in a commitment from the City of LA that within the next five years, 3,000 new bus shelters will be added to the sidewalks of LA. Combined with the less than 1,900 that currently exist, the cumulative impact will be to shade at least 75% of all transit trips in each Council District across the City.

Bus riders deserve a more dignified experience, and we’re proud our efforts are delivering that for them.

Representing this climate justice project at COP26 is a great honor. 

I’m also looking forward to hearing stories from around the globe, from people taking on the climate challenge.

I invite you to follow my dispatches from Glasgow via Climate Resolve’s social media channels: Instagram stories, Twitter feed takeovers, and some Facebook posts, too.

#TogetherForOurPlanet

Bryn Lindblad

Deputy Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 2, 2021

Media Contact:

Armin Mahramzadeh, Communications Manager

amahramzadeh@climateresolve.org | 213-370-0599

Community-Driven Climate Justice Project to Get Showcased on the Global Stage at COP26 Glasgow

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The ‘Heat Equity Analysis for Bus Shelter Provision’ project, spearheaded by Climate Resolve in partnership with public agencies StreetsLA and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, community groups Pacoima Beautiful and Slate-Z, and research institution NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is one of 12 finalists to be showcased at the Climate Challenge Cup at COP26 in Glasgow on November 10, 2021.

“Rather than ad revenues determining where bus shelters should go, as has been the case in Los Angeles in the past, by bringing heat and ridership data to the forefront, we’re shaping a new equity-driven approach to protecting Angelenos from heat, which is a major local impact of climate change,” says Bryn Lindblad, Deputy Director of Climate Resolve.

Exposure to extreme heat, defined as temperatures over 95°F, can result in heatstroke, fatigue that affects student learning, spikes in workplace accidents and violent acts of aggression, cardiovascular and respiratory illness, and even death. With climate change, the frequency and severity of extreme heat days is on the rise, with some parts of Los Angeles projected to have over 100 days a year of extreme heat exposure within the next 20-40 years. Historically marginalized communities, including low-income and communities of color that were previously discriminated against with redlining practices, are still bearing the burden of racial injustice in the form of lower tree canopy cover, more paved surfaces, and with that, a more pronounced urban heat island effect, which can make temperatures 10-30°F hotter than surrounding areas.

“Bus riders deserve a more dignified experience. Today, you can find people waiting for the bus hiding behind a sliver of shade from a lamp post, or waiting down the block in some other patch of shade,” says Lindblad. “By making transit a higher-quality experience, we hope to entice additional people into the system, and in doing so, reduce the number one source of local greenhouse gas emissions, those from the tailpipes of cars.”

A bus rider waits in the shade from a utility pole near a bus stop that lacks a bus shelter.

Currently, less than 1 in 4 bus stops in the City of Los Angeles have shelters. Due to increased public salience and advocacy surrounding the showcased project, the City has committed to installing 3,000 new shelters over the next five years, achieving the target of shading 75% of all transit trips in each City Council district.

The community-driven project that is being showcased at COP26 in Glasgow next week used high-resolution heat mapping and transit ridership data to determine the priority locations for a next generation of bus shelters in Los Angeles. In-depth community engagement brought to light the overwhelming desire for better protection from the heat at bus stops, and also informed the range of additional features that could best serve transit riders to be included in future bus shelters. These potential features include real-time arrival information, variable-angled shade, hydration stations, and smog-absorbing materials.

A technology demonstration of features that could get included in the next generation of LA’s bus shelters.

The ‘Heat Equity Analysis for Bus Shelter Provision’ project is an example of equity-driven collaboration at the local scale to achieve civic innovation and respond to the urgent needs of climate justice.

###

Now Back to Work

by Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director

Cupidity walked out the door and competence stepped in.
 
On his first day on the job, President Biden renewed the United States commitment to the Paris climate agreement. The eight days following have offered a series of breathtaking announcements:

  • Tackling climate change is now at the core of all foreign and national policy decisions
  • The US will achieve a carbon-free electricity sector no later than 2035
  • Zero-emission vehicle fleets will become the standard at all federal agencies
  • Oil and gas drilling permits are halted on all federal lands and waters pending review
  • Taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels are dead
  • Billions of federal dollars will be invested in climate resilience
  • All federal agencies must quickly perform climate action and resilience plans
  • A promise to protect 30% of US land and 30% of US oceans by 2030

To make this ambitious plan a reality, Biden has created a national climate task force, a climate policy office, an environmental justice interagency council, an office of climate and health equity, a civilian climate corps, a climate finance plan, and plans for a global climate summit.
 
The Biden-Harris administration’s bold vision holds the promise of catalyzing the creation of many thousands of great-paying green jobs. Jobs for the future. Jobs that can deliver hope for our future.
 
This is not timid policymaking. Read for yourself.
 
The breadth and boldness of Biden’s climate actions has left me a little speechless.
 
This morning I joked to a friend who manages the climate portfolio at a utility, “Hey, perhaps it’s time to retire.” He replied, “Yeah, I said the same thing to my executive team. But they were dead serious in their response: No, now you’ll be busier than ever.”
 
It’s true. Climate Resolve will now be busier than ever, as we help to implement this bold new vision.
 
It’s all about implementation now.
 
In 2009-2010, after the Copenhagen talks fell through, after the Waxman-Markey legislation collapsed, part of the analysis was that they had been killed by bureaucratic inertia. It seemed people didn’t want to risk exploring a new path. A second barrier was the lack of proof-of-concept. The markets doubted that solar power and electric vehicles could scale.
 
Flash forward to 2021 and General Motors just announced their commitment to go 100% electric by 2035 .
 
Time to roll-up our sleeves and take-on that inertia problem . . .

by Michael Parada, Communications Manager

Climate Resolve is proud to partner with Investing in Place, Slate-Z, and Pacoima Beautiful in the Bus Shelter Blitz project. The cornerstone of our work at Climate Resolve revolves around mitigating the effects of extreme heat in the most vulnerable of communities in and around Los Angeles. We believe in adopting practical and plausible solutions to combat the urban heat island effect, in parts of the city where it is felt the most. LA transit riders’ need for shade at bus stops was underscored by EnviroMetro’s Equity Survey research, conducted in 2018, which sought to determine how Angelenos think Metro should prioritize its future investments.

When the findings highlighted improved bus services as the top priority, participants identified a need for shade structures and seating as the biggest gaps within bus infrastructure around LA County. A lack of shade at bus stops coupled with the rise of extreme heat days rings an alarm for public health risks. Climate Resolve and its partners care deeply about the safety of our region’s transit riders, so we are dedicated to advancing a solution.

To date, Climate Resolve has played two main roles in the Bus Shelter Blitz project: (1) providing scientific data on urban heat exposure; and (2) advising on adding hydration stations at bus stops.

Climate Resolve provided its partners with information about urban heat exposure

This information included maps made for each council district showing the location of existing street trees, the density of existing tree canopy cover, the locations of existing bus shelters, and locations that had been proposed for new bus shelters based on ridership numbers.

Climate Resolve also provided the project partners with an infographic explaining the importance of protecting people from exposure to extreme heat. The graphic suggested solutions that can be implemented at the street level. Our partners reported that the information helped them engage with community members on the subject. See below for images of the analysis that Climate Resolve provided during the initial outreach phase of the project.

Climate Resolve troubleshoots to pilot hydration stations at the bus stops

Ever since initial community feedback started coming in that made it clear that community members would really appreciate having a hydration station at their sheltered bus stop, Climate Resolve has been researching and troubleshooting what it would take to pilot such an installation.

The possibility of including a chiller system to ensure that drinking water is dispensed at a tasty cool temperature was one area of research that has proven difficult to realize, due to manufacturer restrictions on outdoor use. Climate Resolve has worked alongside JC Decaux to identify a range of possible bus shelter upgrades that could be part of this pilot, including cost estimates and considerations that must be taken into account. That information, including renderings of potential hydration station configurations at bus shelters are shown below.

Determining more precise installation costs and procedures for the preferred location(s) is currently underway. Climate Resolve also continues to try to win over the necessary political backing to approve the forthcoming installation expenditure and complete any required permitting procedures.

Together, we are pushing the needle forward to create a more equitable Los Angeles. One where socio-economic status does not determine your right to a comfortable and safe transit experience. While there is undoubtedly more work to be done, we are proud to present our progress.

Climate Resolve