FutureBuild conference in downtown LA focuses on financial benefits of sustainable development

Brian Watt/KPCC

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At the FutureBuild Summit, real estate developers, city leaders and planners and green technology experts focused on the financial benefits of sustainable development in Southern California.

"For clean and green technologies to move from the cutting edge to mainstream, we must ensure that making buildings sustainable is financially attainable," said developer Rick Caruso during the opening session.    

He used his successful Los Angeles development - The Grove - as an example.

For several years, said Caruso, he's tried to install solar panels on the roof of The Grove's parking structure. But so far, he said, "what makes perfect ecological sense does not make any economic sense."

Caruso said he’s not giving up, but government can do its part with more financial incentives and less bureaucracy. He said urban centers like Los Angeles should foster such sustainable projects, as their populations and economic output continue to grow.

The Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles organized the conference, partnering with VerdeXchange. One of the breakout sessions focused on adding energy-saving features to appartment buildings and affordable housing communities.

Hunter Johnson, president of the Long Beach-based non-profit LINC Housing, held up a shower head that saves one of his properties a lot of water and money. He spent about $8,000 to install the shower head in the each of the 274 units at the City Gardens affordable housing community in Santa Ana.

"We believe we've saved roughly $11,000 in water usage, gas usage, and sewer bills," Johnson said. "For an $8,000 investment, it means we're going to get our money back within a year, and that's a pretty good deal. "