Snapshot on Sustainability: USGBC-LA Intern shares her impressions

Each year, USGBC-LA hosts a group of local college students looking at how to leverage their unique and varied career goals through the lens of green building. This year, students were asked to share their impressions. We’ve captured a few of their writings and will share them in upcoming blogs. This first one is by Mariana Isidoro-Cruz, who is currently pursuing a career in the IT technology industry.


Society has been living on the thought that Earth is eternal, a self-restoring resource, which is untrue to the real nature of what our planet can provide. Slowly, people have started to realize the Earth is being negatively impacted by an unknown source, which has turned out to be us. As a result, people are looking at ways to act more sustainably. This includes saving resources like energy, and doing this in a way that prevents health issues for those working in buildings. The State and local government have set a course in the direction of sustainability by creating building codes like Los Angeles’ Building Energy and Water Efficiency Ordinance.

The constant construction work going on in cities like Los Angeles are worth billions of dollars. These dollars influence design choices across the world. This is why companies like Gensler are integrating concepts of sustainability into their design projects and advising their clients to create energy and water efficient buildings.

I didn’t think that an old building can and would do its part in saving energy, but as part of the USGBC-LA internship I visited the ACE Hotel. I learned that ACE partners with the City to conserve energy through a Demand Response program. The ACE Hotel also supports local businesses by offering their products to occupants during their stay, reducing the energy costs of transporting goods to their hotel.

LA Metro created an integrated construction design for their Division 13 to reduce energy and water use as well. I was lucky enough to take a tour of the facility where I realized upper management had also kept their workers in mind in making choices about the design of the facility.

They have a beautiful green roof that functions as a peaceful relaxation spot for the employees as well as keeping the building cool to reduce energy use. Breakrooms include an assortment of appliances and pool tables so workers are able to relax and feel at ease during their breaks. Working as a bus operator is stressful and dangerous, so they have small rooms where they can rest and de-stress.

The solar panels on the roof and sides of the building help harvest the sun’s energy to off-set the building’s electricity bill. They have found a way to cut back on their use of potable water by capturing the water that the neighboring county jail must purge regularly to check that safety systems are operational and using it for bus washes and landscape irrigation.

Several people have realized that cars are the biggest contributor to Los Angeles air pollution due to smog and have changed to electrical vehicles. Metro is planning to change their buses from natural gas to electrification, which will benefit the health of all of us in Los Angeles as well as reducing energy costs.

You might have noticed the LADWP has a rebate program for when you purchase an energy efficient appliance like a fridge. LADWP has also been leaving LED light bulbs on the doorsteps of their customers. The LED light bulbs have a better productive life then other light bulbs and save energy, which translates to saving money. With all the efforts to encourage individuals to buy energy-efficient appliances and helping them save money, the problem remains to get people to change to their old behaviors and use the new products that are environmentally-friendly.

Countries around the world have started to take the initiative to reduce their energy consumption and conserve their natural resources. Recognizing that the Earth’s population is greater than it has ever been, it is even more important to reduce the use of resources beyond our needs to allow future generations to flourish.


I hope you will join me in celebrating all Mariana has learned during her internship. Please join the conversation by commenting below and support USGBC-LA’s internship program here (include in the comment section where you would like your donation directed).

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