The Regional Benefits of Water Trading in L.A. County as Recycled Water Production Increases

Los Angeles County contains 215 community water systems that are disconnected and fragmented. These water systems vary greatly in their local water resources including access to groundwater storage, stormwater capture, water re-use, infrastructure and potential for conservation. For instance, some systems contain more water resources than they need to meet their local demand. Other systems have limited resources and depend on a single source of imported water or groundwater aquifer. As a result, households face unequal access to affordable drinking water that is mainly determined by their geographical location. A feasible strategy to integrate these fragmented water systems is needed to address the inequities in pricing and ensure Los Angeles County can achieve 100% local water. 
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Direct Potable Reuse for Los Angeles County: Law and Policy Recommendations for Moving Forward

Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) is a water recycling technique that uses treated wastewater as a source of drinking water. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) of California is currently tasked with developing regulations for DPR by the end of 2023. In this project, UCLA researchers focus on ways to clear the legal path toward the adoption of DPR in Los Angeles County and California. The ultimate goal of this project is to facilitate the adoption of DPR in a manner that is timely, secure and protective of public health. 

Agent-Based Modeling of Solar Power Adoption by Los Angeles County Residents

There are a variety of local, state and federal policies in place designed to promote the adoption of photovoltaic or solar power systems in the United States. Examples include the federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, the California Solar Initiative rebates and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Net Metering program. These policies operate by reducing the economic barriers to solar power adoption, while other potential strategies like public outreach focus on educating the general public on the economic and social benefits of solar adoption. like public outreach focus on educating the general public on the economic and social benefits of solar adoption.   Ultimately, the adoption of solar power in residential settings depends on many factors, including finance and homeowners’ perceptions and social influences, as well as regulatory and technological factors. These confounding factors influencing residential solar power adoption rates are far too complex to be fully analyzed using traditional economic models. Thus, a new method is needed to better understand what policies are most effective at increasing solar power adoption in residential areas. 
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Assessing Water Conservation in City of Los Angeles

For Los Angeles County to achieve 100% local water, increasing local water supply and reducing local demand for water must occur simultaneously. Numerous water conservation efforts exist and have been proposed to serve this purpose, but there is a lack of quantitative data on how each of these water conservation efforts functions in the county. Thus, there is a need to evaluate the full portfolio of potential conservation options to identify practices that would maximize benefits. The UCLA research team carried out this evaluation, taking into consideration Los Angeles-specific conditions such as the local climate and the inability to reduce customers’ water demand (often termed, “demand hardening”) due to previously implemented programs. 

Strategies for 2050 Sustainability in Los Angeles

Los Angeles County is the largest county in the nation with a population of approximately 10 million people. By 2050, the county is projected to have a 15% increase in population, adding 1.5 million more residents. With projected urban population growth alongside the effects of climate change, providing Angelenos with reliable energy, water and an environment that will enhance their health will be a challenge. The UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge (SLA GC) was developed to address these problems and ultimately transition Los Angeles County to 100% renewable energy, 100% locally sourced water, and enhanced ecosystem and human health by 2050. In response to SLA GC’s original goals, The NOW Institute research team undertook a first-round assessment of where the county stands today and what can be done to achieve those targets by 2050.
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Terahertz Laser Leaf Scanner to Reduce Urban Ecosystem Water Expenditure

Plant water use accounts for a major portion of the total water use in Los Angeles. Reducing water use in irrigation systems from lawns and gardens to parks is essential to achieving significant reductions in water expenditure across the urban landscape, while still maintaining critical urban greenery for public health and wellness. However, current technologies that monitor the water status of plants are time-consuming and destructive to the plants themselves. Thus, a new technology that efficiently estimates leaf water status in plants using noninvasive remote sensing technology will aide in managers’ ability to maximize water use efficiency in parks and open space.
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A Genomic Roadmap for Urban Biodiversity Conservation: Employing Landscape Genomic Connectivity Analyses for Future Planning of the Los Angeles Basin

The Los Angeles region lies within one of only 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world with more than 4,000 unique native plant and animal species recorded by community science efforts to date. However, development, direct exploitation, climate change, pollution and invasive species threaten our native biodiversity. To better manage our native biodiversity and ensure future generations benefit from the ecosystem services such as food production, environmental health and wellbeing, we need to better understand the breadth of the diversity that exists in our region. Realizing that species conservation efforts must incorporate both evolutionary and genetic data, the UCLA research team will apply genomic tools to assess the genetic diversity of species across the Los Angeles Basin and provide recommendations for effective management strategies to preserve and enhance these critical natural resources.

Los Angeles Renewable Energy Potential: A Preliminary Assessment

The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge of UCLA has an ambitious goal of helping transition Los Angeles County to 100% renewable energy by 2050 through innovations in science, technology and policy. An important first step is to determine the balance of accessible renewable energy resources and its distribution and storage. To address this data gap, researchers assessed the 2050 renewable energy potential for the Los Angeles region (defined by the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and the greater metropolitan area, including the surrounding counties) and presented feasible pathways for achieving the 100% renewable energy goal. This study is a preliminary assessment of the energy portfolio for the entire L.A. region.
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Automated Vehicles for Sustainable Cities: Field Experiments and Future Outlooks in Los Angeles

In 2018, the transportation sector represented over 28%, the largest share, of the total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Automated vehicles, a rapidly evolving technology, have been modeled to reduce GHG emissions up to 94% and bring accident prevention, smoother traffic and better service to people facing driving difficulties other projected benefits of automated vehicles include reduced infrastructure needs but serving the same demand and potentially more efficient public transportation systems that eliminate transit stops. However, as of 2016 there had not been a field experiment study conducted locally to test and verify the impacts of automated vehicles within Los Angeles County. In this project, researchers ran an automated vehicle prototype on various routes in the county to document the effects on GHG emissions and sustainable transportation.
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Greening the L.A. Power Grid: The Role of Utility Regulatory Models in Promoting Grid Modernization

A power grid is a network for delivering electricity to consumers. Because utility structure is widely understudied, a critical component to “greening” the power grid is fully understanding the current system. In the Los Angeles region, two separate entities provide power to residents and are subject to very different regulatory structures:   Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is the country’s largest municipally owned utility that serves the City of Los Angeles.   Southern California Edison (SCE) is an investor-owned utility that serves all of Los Angeles County outside the City of Los Angeles borders.   Having dual models of electricity service and regulation provides researchers with a unique opportunity to evaluate and compare the two. Researchers examined whether these two models under different forms of governance and ownership have necessary structures in place in order to achieve sustainability in the energy sector.
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