Image courtesy of Councilmember Al Austin, who was “honored to accept the [award] on behalf of the City of Long Beach, the only city recognized this year,” according to his Facebook post.
The Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for “Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities” was given to the City of Long Beach for its Downtown Plan, and also encompassed successes with the new Civic Center, Mobility Element and LED streetlight Conversion, the city announced today.
“The Downtown Plan has established development and design standards that promote sustainability, energy efficiency, and a vibrant urban core,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “Since its adoption, several major developments demonstrate how economic growth and environmental consciousness can work hand-in-hand. We are honored to be recognized and awarded California’s highest environmental honor.”
The award was given Thursday night in Sacramento through the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). It “recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.”
“This prestigious award reflects our strong commitment to environmental stewardship, sustainable design practices, and thoughtful development that enhances the public realm,” said Amy Bodek, director of Long Beach Development Services, in a statement.
The Downtown Plan provides the framework to achieve long-lasting environmental and economic benefits. The plan facilitates new transit-oriented residential and commercial development opportunities, promotes open space and greater connectivity, and encourages multi-modal transportation options in the city’s core, Bodek stated.
“With a forward-thinking vision and unified approach for improving urban livability, the Downtown Plan serves as a strong model for other diverse communities,” Bodek stated.
Adopted by the Long Beach City Council in 2012, the Downtown Plan “encourages a proactive planning process and refined standards that mandate high-quality, context-sensitive building designs that contribute to defining and activating the downtown,” stated the release.
The Downtown Plan received a Comprehensive Planning Award, Large Jurisdiction, Award of Merit at the 2013 American Planning Association (APA) California Conference.
Officials broke ground on the new Civic Center in July of last year. The development will include a new City Hall, Port Headquarters and Main Library, along with a re-activated Lincoln Park and new residential, retail and hotel commercial development, according to the release.
The new Civic Center will be seismically safe and sustainably built. The development will use solar power and rainwater storage and is targeted to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standard for environmental efficiency.
Adopted by city council in 2013, the Mobility Element provides a guide for future decision making to improve the way people, goods, and resources move throughout the city.
The 20-year guide “addresses all modes of travel, including walking, bicycling, riding transit, driving; and discusses other topics such as land use, parking, and environmental impacts to create a stable mobility system of complete streets and corridors for Long Beach residents and workers, students, shoppers and visitors alike,” according to the release.
LED Streetlight Conversion
The city, partnered with City Light and Power, is replacing tens of thousands of high-pressure sodium streetlights with LED streetlights. The retrofit will save money and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and is expected to save approximately 9.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, reducing the city’s overall energy consumption by close to 10 percent, according to the release.