UCLA’s Grand Challenge Project – A 100% Sustainable Los Angeles by 2050

UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) unveiled an ambitious plan to achieve complete sustainability by using only renewable energy and local water for the Greater Los Angeles area by 2050.

UCLA Grand Challenge Project - Sustainable Los Angeles

UCLA Grand Challenge Project – Sustainable Los Angeles (photo – ucla.edu)

The $150 million research project, titled “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” is the first of the UCLA Grand Challenge initiative’s six planned projects.

For this first project, UCLA is putting together a team of around 70 faculty and staff members from about 30 UCLA centers and nearly two dozen of its departments.

The team will include experts in diverse fields including urban planning, economics, law, public policy, transportation, environmental science, public health, engineering, environmental science, communication studies and conservation biology.

The $150 million they plan to raise will be used for research on new policies and technologies over the next five years. Their goal is to provide decision-makers with a detailed roadmap by 2019.

This plan will be backed by the research, new technologies and breakthroughs, and will include laws, policies, outreach programs and other recommendations on how to achieve complete sustainability by mid-century.

Many of the recommendations, policies and technologies will first be tried out on the UCLA campus. Highlighted below are some of the goals of the project:-

- Smart electric grid that works with renewable energy systems and smart metering to enable buildings and cars to send energy back into the system;

- Carbon-free public transit and transportation systems;

- Solar energy on every rooftop;

- Decentralized system for water treatment and supply; and

- Developing environment-friendly technologies for ocean water desalination.

Federal support for the project seems likely, considering that Cristin Dorgelo, assistant director for Grand Challenges at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), was present at the launch event at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

Dorgelo, who is a UCLA alumna, said this was not just going to be a local effort. She said it can cross outside of UCLA, and the breakthroughs achieved can have an impact on the world’s sustainability-related decisions.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the perilous effects of climate change are already here. Chancellor Block added that they will light the path for the rest of the world by making Los Angeles environmentally sustainable.

On a related note, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and the Environmental Defense Fund released a set of maps last week called “Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER): Atlas of Investment Potential for LA County.”

LASER shows that if merely five percent of the rooftop solar energy generating potential in LA County is realized, it will create 28,700 local jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 million tons – equivalent to removing 250,000 cars off the roads.

That’s the impact of just five percent of the potential solar capacity of LA County. The UCLA Grand Challenge project is aiming to put solar energy on every rooftop in Greater Los Angeles.

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