Los Angeles is the most energy inefficient city in the nation

Even during record heat, surprisingly few people go to L.A. cooling centers. Why? The city needs to stay cool! According to a study released by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, in Los Angeles, it’s the least visited city in the country for energy efficiency and water conservation. Why did Los Angeles have the slowest growing economy in the United States in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau? Because it has the slowest growing population. And why is it the least attractive city to live in? Because it has the least attractive weather.

The answer to why Los Angeles is so energy inefficient is simple. As I sat in the office of John H. Tully, chief economist for the city of Los Angeles, he offered me a cup of water. “Water is such a scarce resource in Los Angeles,” he said. “Not as scarce as gas is, but you have to be very careful about water. You need to be diligent with water use and conservation. The best thing I can tell you is to start doing a little bit of everything.”

It’s hard to find a more eloquent statement about how the city works. Los Angeles operates under the “efficiency myth,” which holds that the problem is not with policies, but with people. Efficiency programs are seen as a solution to the problem of citizens living without water or energy. But Tully’s research shows that Los Angeles is the most energy inefficient city in the nation in many ways, but it’s also the least sustainable, as most of the solutions are a waste of money.

What can be done about this? It really comes down to two choices for Los Angeles. One is to follow the mantra of “Do less, save more,” and the other is to embrace new technologies like geothermal and solar energy. “Energy efficiency,” Tully said, is “not about doing less and saving more; it’s about doing less and doing right.” The key, he said, is to do the two things right

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