Celebrating Earth Day in Greater LA

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April 17, 2013

(Left; volunteers make solar happen for the Brown family of Compton)

As we look forward to Earth Day 2013 on Monday April 22nd, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles will be a participating nonprofit at the Los Angeles Business Council’s (LABC) Annual Sustainability Summit this Friday, April 19th.  This year’s event is particularly exciting, with LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa delivering the keynote and a number of other inspiring leaders joining in as speakers and panelists including CA Senator Fran Pavley and Senator Kevin de Leon, Tom Steyer, Director of the Center for the Next Generation, Ron Nichols, the General Manager for LA’s Department of Water and Power, and LA City Council Member Jose Huizar.   You can learn more about the event here.

There are so many critical sustainability issues to be aware of and many different ways to get out and celebrate Earth Day, but this day has a special meaning in urban low-income communities where trees are few, pollution is high, and summers are hot and getting hotter.

A UCLA climate report released in 2012, “Midcentury Warming in the Los Angeles Area” found that the number of “extremely hot” days will triple in downtown Los Angeles and quadruple in surrounding mountain and valley areas and anticipates “more frequent heat waves.” For families living in low-income communities where tree-cover is scarce and heat-trapping building materials are typically used, higher temperatures are a significant health threat.  Yet, given their limited incomes, these families are much less likely to be able to afford air conditioning, leaving them much more vulnerable to heat-related illness and death.

Solar is a perfect solution for these families and can help them maintain a healthy temperature in their homes without burning the fossil fuels that ultimately only contribute to the warming trend.  To date, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles has made clean affordable solar power a reality for 470 low-income families living in some of the most polluted neighborhoods in the country, where communities are struggling with high monthly energy costs while facing high rates of unemployment and foreclosure.  60 of those solar projects were installed for families living in the South Central Los Angeles area, including the Watts and Willowbrook neighborhoods, and 19 were in Compton.  The unemployment rate in Compton is over 17%, dramatically higher than the LA County average of 10%.

To celebrate Earth Day GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles will be installing two more projects for Compton families.  These two projects will reduce energy costs for each of these families by over 90% and will produce nearly 280,000kW of solar energy, reducing over 346,000 lbs of greenhouse gasses throughout their lifetimes. 

Please consider making a donation to support these projects this year on Earth Day or sign up for a unique volunteer experience and get out the community and help make difference for a family and help make Earth Day last all year round.  Click here to make a donation, and here to learn more about volunteering.

Happy Earth Day from all of us at GRID and wishing you a cleaner, greener, more peaceful planet.