Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles—100% Sustainability by 2050

Winning submission by Futterpop

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

UCLA Grand Challenges

Organization website:

Organization Twitter handle:

Organization Facebook page:

Organization Instagram:

Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization



Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


The UCLA Grand Challenges initiative brings together faculty, students and partners to solve critical issues.

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.


UCLA's "Hotter LA Project” pursues 100% sustainability in water, energy, and nature in the LA region by 2050.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)


Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


Bold vision for LA Region: @UCLAgc & partners pursue 100% sustainability in energy, water & nature #LA2050 #grandchallenges

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



What is your idea/project in more detail?


The “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles” (Hotter LA) Grand Challenge Project commits to transform the LA region to 100% sustainability in water, energy, and nature by 2050. This means the region will produce all energy locally with renewable sources and rely exclusively on local water supply while protecting biodiversity. This transformation will require game-changing technologies, new policies, and an evolved urban fabric.

In 2013, UCLA publicly announced our commitment to deliver, by 2019, a plan for sustainability (2019 Plan). In the 1-year grant period, we will increase visibility of the effort, strengthen key stakeholder relationships and publish a draft work plan.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?


Three key resources underpin the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the LA region: the energy that powers our economy, the water that supports life and activity, and the weather and physical landscapes that shape our lifestyles and culture. All three are essential to our quality of life and are deeply intertwined with climate change and the immense challenges and opportunities it represents. The world must get on a path to renewable energy to avert the most extreme consequences of climate change. Even if the transition to renewables occurs immediately, significant climate change is inevitable, and water scarcity may be its most important consequence.

Resilient communities will need to simultaneously mitigate and adapt. LA can lead the way. By becoming self-sufficient and sustainable in energy and water in harmony with the region's ecosystems and cultural identity, we will ensure our own access to these critical resources as well as a healthier and more prosperous future. Our example will drive similar transformations in urban areas across the globe and create worldwide demand for local expertise and products.

The Hotter LA Project unites dozens of UCLA’s most prominent scientists and scholars with key public and private stakeholders around a common goal: full sustainability in the LA region by 2050. By 2019, we will produce a plan detailing the new technologies and efficiencies required to obtain all energy and water from local and renewable sources in a way that’s economical, socially equitable, and supportive of the LA region’s unique biodiversity. We will map out the required actions to modernize energy, water, and transportation systems; enhance the built and natural environment; define new policy and legal frameworks; and heighten social responsibility, thereby transforming the urban fabric and mitigating the effects of climate change.

In the 1-year grant period, we will focus on the following objectives:
a) Creating a working outline of the 2019 Plan and a project management timeline
b) Increasing the number and depth of partnerships with critical stakeholder groups
c) Raising public awareness of and support for the effort

In summary, we are committed to making all parts of the city resilient in alignment with the LA2050 goals.

How will your idea/project help make LA the healthiest place to live today? In 2050?


Raising awareness about the Hotter LA Project, gathering support, and developing the infrastructure for this intense and complex collaboration TODAY lays the crucial foundation for the success of this project and a healthier, greener Los Angeles. We will realize benefits from these transformations long before 2050.

Here’s how achieving the Hotter LA 2050 objectives makes LA the healthiest place to live in 2050:

-The transition to renewable energy and a carbon-free transportation infrastructure will eliminate the public health burden associated with fossil fuel--taking us off the list of US cities with the worst air quality.

-Transformed urban spaces and cleaner oceans offer greater opportunities to be active in natural outdoor spaces where our unique biodiversity can be celebrated.

-The creation of substantial bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure will provide active commuting options that improve health and quality of life—reducing the number of vehicles on the road as we currently have more than any other urban area in the world.

The compound effect of these changes will result in the LA region becoming healthier, eliminating current environmental injustices so that all communities have minimal environmental health risks. We will see a notable reduction in asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death.

Whom will your project benefit? Please be specific.


By 2050, it is estimated that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities and face the same urban environmental concerns currently present in the LA region: limited resources, smog, water waste, traffic congestion, increased heat and rising sea levels.

The Hotter LA Project is designed to achieve maximum societal impact. Even before we reach the 2050 goals, the steps made in approach of 100% sustainability will have positive benefits for all citizens and communities in the entire LA region. Millions of people will have cleaner air, safe, sustainable energy and water, and improved quality of life. We expect this effort to become a model for how other megacities might achieve sustainability through goal setting and cross-sector collaboration. Lessons learned here will be shared with communities across the state, nation, and globe.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.


Robust partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders are critical to the success of the project and to the eventual implementation of the 2019 Plan. Key stakeholder groups include:

Local, State, and Federal Government: LA City and County leaders and even the White House administration are aware of this project and have confirmed broad support for our goals. Members of the Hotter LA team have active research and consulting engagements with the City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, and federal agencies. Critical Success Factor: We must expand relationships with all government stakeholder groups, become fluent with their complex structures, and find ways to connect beyond existing relationships to ensure that the right people are engaged, improve the feasibility of the 2050 plan, and obtain buy-in from groups that will have significant responsibility with implementation.

Industry: The expansion of industry partnerships is a priority for this Project. Through early engagement of industry, we gain a greater understanding of needs and aligned interests as related to the goals of the project. Critical Success Factor: While a number of relationships currently exist, we must develop more extensive relationships with industry and foster more entity-level engagement.

Philanthropy: Hotter LA represents our most ambitious fundraising effort to date. We believe that there is great opportunity to engage supporters of the university in new ways. Critical Success Factor: We must capture the imagination and commitment of individuals passionate about meeting the goals of the project.

UCLA Campus and Other Universities: With full support from the UCLA Chancellor and the 140 faculty members involved, UCLA is deeply committed to this effort. Critical Success Factor: We will extend our reach outside of UCLA to include academic partners who can stimulate innovation and fill gaps.

Public: We will shift our public communications from broadcasts to dialogues. With increased interaction, we hope that LA citizens will learn about the proposed project, draw inspiration from it, and get involved. Critical Success Factor: An engaged and supportive Los Angeles community is essential.

With our partners, we will create a shared vision of the future, communicate openly and directly about opportunities and challenges, increase access to all types of resources (monetary, intellectual, data, etc.), and make progress on our collective commitment to the 2050 goals.

How will your project impact the LA2050 "LIVE" metrics?

Access to healthy food

Healthcare access

Exposure to air toxins

Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard

Percent of imported water

Obesity rates

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Rates of mental illnesses

Prevalence of adverse childhood experience (Dream Metric)

Percentage of LA communities that are resilient (Dream Metric)

Percentage of residents receiving coordinated healthcare services (Dream Metric)

Percentage of tree canopy cover (Dream Metric)


If other, please specify.:

Others described in response below.

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

The benefits to be achieved with the Hotter LA Project are closely aligned with several LA2050 Metrics as summarized below:

-New technologies and efficiencies position the region to cost-effectively obtain 100% energy from renewable sources and 100% water from local sources. (Metrics: Exposure to air toxins, Percent of imported water, Acres and miles of polluted waterways.)

-The region's urban spaces are reimagined with increased green space supportive of Southern California’s native biodiversity. (Metrics: Percentage of tree canopy cover, Access to open space and park facilities.)

-Clean energy and water and decarbonized transportation leads to more equitable outcomes for communities disproportionately burdened by pollution. (Metrics: Exposure to air toxins, Percentage of LA communities that are resilient.)

-A county-wide bicycle and walking transportation network reduces traffic and provides faster, safer and greener commutes. (Metrics: Walk/bike/transit score, Other: Median travel time to work, Number of public transit riders, Transit-accessible housing and employment.)

-The LA region is recognized as an innovation leader in the areas of water, energy, natural resource preservation, public health, and policy implementation. Climate change is transformed from crisis to opportunity. (Metrics: Other: Increased grant funding for environment and sustainability research, Patents per capita, Jobs per capita, Number of high growth start-ups, Venture capital investment, Measures of cultural and global economic influence.)

Please select which other LA2050 Goals are relevant to your project or organization (check all that apply):

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the best place to LEARN

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.


An integral part of the 2019 Plan is the inclusion of specific metrics and milestones. A representative sample of what will be included is below:

ENERGY: Los Angeles moves to a diversified energy portfolio that is 100% renewable. Our vision includes every rooftop in the LA region producing solar energy. Widespread adoption of solar will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create jobs. A recent UCLA study demonstrates that if LA county could achieve just 10% of its rooftop solar capacity it could create 47,000 jobs and slash nearly 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually--the equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road.

WATER: The LA region no longer relies on importing 85% of our water. We have access to plentiful, sustainable, and 100% local water. This will be achieved by reducing per capita water consumption to 50 gallons per day and significantly improving water reuse and recycle technologies.

BIODIVERSITY: The region’s transformation with energy and water is accomplished in a way that ensures no net loss of native biodiversity—preserving our status as one of Conservation International’s top 25 biodiversity hotspots and protecting the beauty of our natural spaces. Biologists have projected that globally 50% of all living species might be lost by 2100, and virtually all of these losses are being driven by human activities.

Success in the one-year grant period includes meeting the following commitments:

--Refining our Project Plan (creating a working draft outline for the 2019 Plan)
--Expanding Partnerships
--Increasing Public Outreach
--Building Capacity
--Engaging UCLA Students
--Securing External Funding for the Project

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?


Two lessons have informed the shape of our Grand Challenges initiative and our approach to the Hotter LA Project:

1. COMPLEX CHALLENGES REQUIRE CREATIVE SOLUTIONS: As a research university, UCLA has the intellectual capital and resources it takes to explore society’s most challenging issues, and as a public research university, we have the obligation to develop solutions that improve quality of life in the U.S. and around the world. UCLA is made up of brilliant and innovative people who firmly believe that for every problem, there is a solution. Our faculty and students not only believe that anything is possible, they also frequently prove it. We call upon that spirit throughout the UCLA Grand Challenges initiative and the Hotter LA Project.

Solving any of today’s most complex societal challenges—including those related to the environment and sustainability—requires not just expertise from one discipline but collaboration from a wide variety of disciplines. We’ll need inventions, policy solutions, law, education, economics, engineering, the basic sciences, public outreach strategies, and more.

2. WE CAN’T DO THIS ALONE: Our environment is threatened to such a degree that basic research isn't enough. We’ll also have to show decision-makers clear applications of that research. Grand Challenge Projects differ from UCLA’s usual approach in scale and scope. These are cross-campus, “mega-research” collaborations — bigger and more transformative than anything we've done before. This means we need more coordination and more grassroots efforts focused on topics that people are passionate about. We must increase our partnerships with other universities, foundations, philanthropists, private industry, and government agencies. We’re calling for all hands on deck. Together, we’ll make breakthroughs that will benefit Los Angeles and the world.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.


With more than 140 faculty members committed to the goals of the Hotter LA Project, UCLA is in a unique position to lead this effort. Among these faculty members are the top experts in the areas of climate change, water quality and supply, smart grid technology, renewable energy, public policy, law, environmental justice, air quality, biofuels, sustainability and more.

Over the past year, we have been building internal support and an infrastructure to support the project team. Notably, Mark Gold, D.Env. (former president of Heal the Bay and currently acting director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability), recently accepted the role of academic lead for the project. In August 2014, our new full-time Hotter LA Project Director (Cassie Rauser, PhD), begins her role as project manager. Concurrently, we are interviewing candidates to serve as the principal fundraising officer for this project.

This accomplished team will work closely with various marketing, communications, research and administrative offices on campus (Chancellor’s Office, government relations, media relations, research administration, intellectual property and industry sponsored research, etc.), to ensure that UCLA achieves the 12-month objectives outlined above:

-Refine our Project Plan (creating a working draft outline for the 2019 deliverable)
-Expand Partnerships
-Increase Public Outreach
-Build Capacity
-Engage UCLA Students
-Secure external funding for the Hotter LA Project

All of these deliverables are important contributors to the 2050 goal of achieving sustainability in the LA region.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?


We have identified three major barriers associated with creating the 2019 Plan to transform the LA region to 100% sustainability: Financial Resources; Skepticism; and Integration.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES: The first major challenge will be acquiring the financial resources necessary to create the 2019 Plan, which requires new research (engineering, technologies, regulatory, materials etc.), significant outreach and consensus building, and proof of concept test beds (est. $150M). While the figure is daunting, our strategy is to draw from a combination of government, industry and philanthropic funding sources. Our efforts are bolstered by a number of factors:

- The inclusion of the Hotter LA Project as a centerpiece in UCLA’s $4.2B Centennial Campaign celebrating our 100 year anniversary.

- Plans to establish a donor advisory board comprised of individuals with a shared vision for the future of Los Angeles.

- Hiring of a new fundraising professional to pursue philanthropic support for the project.

SKEPTICISM: The second major challenge is skepticism, which is often the first reaction to the seemingly impossible goals of the Hotter LA Project. We have been assured by our faculty experts that the goals are achievable. Our frequent motto is that we certainly won’t achieve these goals if we don’t strive for them. Our strategy for dealing with criticism is to listen to it, analyze it, and if appropriate, correct our course. And in fact, this strategy has proven successful as we have watched our skeptics convert to our biggest advocates, as they too become inspired by the pursuit of solutions to grand challenges.

INTEGRATION: The third challenge we have encountered is integration. The process for defining and pursuing solutions to grand challenges requires our faculty members to visualize their work beyond the traditional boundaries of their disciplines. We ask them to work with individuals with all kinds of expertise and points of view and to identify common goals. Getting this many people to work together on this scale isn't easy. We have learned much from the two years we've spent shaping this initiative, and our success with the engagement of faculty proves that they also believe that they can achieve the impossible.

There are still many barriers to overcome; our strategy is to be flexible and adaptable and to keep our sights set on the big goals as we build synergies.

What resources does your project need? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

26 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

"Los Angeles: A History of the Future" is the first attempt to systematically describe how a metropolis can be rebuilt toward balance with nature.

by metroeco
over 1 year ago

It's like a green washed car commercial.... so what's the big project?

by freemante
over 1 year ago

I genuinely don't understand what the project entails. It sounds like a lot of big promises but is short on details. I'd really need to know a lot more before being able to endorse this (despite my wholehearted support of its objectives).

by gjh
over 1 year ago

Although I really like this idea, I'd like to see it running in conjunction with the BLOCK project and the TreePeople project. Wish there was a way to fund multiple projects now. I don't believe we have until 2050 to pull our collective act together to save the planet. I'd like to see specific goals with timelines--I know that this might seem to interfere with the open creative aspect of this project, but I think both could happen at the same time. Ambitious? Maybe. Necessary? I think so. Specific items I like: 1. 100% solar roofs. We should get government funding now, hire people and do it now--would jump start the economy and get buy-in to the projects. Could be done. Anyone who has been part of a successful rebuild after a disaster (e.g., the Cal State Northridge campus after the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake) can tell you innovative and creative work can be done quickly if the community believes it must be done. 2. Water sustainability. What I don't like: the lack of specific mention of major non-profits, especially environmental ones like TreePeople (other than Heal the Bay) that you would be collaborating with who have already been working in this field for many years. This reads to an outsider (me) like a government/public education project that will involve some parts of the community, but not enough parts of it. I'd like to see the names of specific non-profits you would be working with in L.A. I support government/public education projects and have seen great successes, but have also seen failures, mainly because of the insular community that ends up leading the projects. When we reach the critical disaster stage of climate change, the insular leadership by government is inevitable and likely necessary, but since we aren't there yet, why not tap into the existing huge volunteer community that exists within the environmental non-profit sector? I've primarily worked in the government/education field, so I believe in your ability to achieve a great deal, but I'd like to see you aim just a little higher. Thanks for your efforts and creativity.

by nlfalls
over 1 year ago

What part of this project will be trying to solve (can it be?) loss of energy over the grid? Or is local creation and storage and use of solar electrical a better strategy?

by AnneZ
over 1 year ago

Awesome goals! I just want to note your sustainability needs list missed a big need: communications and regional coordination. Data Roads Foundation is trying to help communities build more resilient and sustainable local mesh networks, which can peer together and form global networks.

by jaredhardy
over 1 year ago

This is a great project! Do you have a need for a sustainable Aquaponic/Hydroponic component? We are a non-profit organization that builds and maintains systems in schools, restaurants, back yards, anywhere that there is a need for growing your own veggies! The benefits are to teach Los Angeles a healthier, non-GMO, self sufficient, cost effective way to eat. If you are interested please contact us at TAPFT Green Solutions ( We would love to work with you!

by NeighborNick
over 1 year ago


by 34.05N.118.25W
over 1 year ago

Hi Katherine, thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is because of the increasing drought and increasing population in the LA Region that we believe our "Grand Challenge" approach to this seemingly unsolvable problem of sustainability in energy and water is more timely than ever. We believe that the most effective way to tackle this problem is to work together across disciplines to develop a holistic implementation plan by 2019 that looks at water, energy and biodiversity together, as none of the challenges in these areas are isolated. We look forward to working with groups within and outside of UCLA to make this happen. We understand that our goal is "Grand," but we believe it is achievable - many technologies already exist, and it is about putting our minds together to make it happen. Here's one example of the many ways UCLA and our partners are working to address the water issue: Please stay in touch and follow our progress! - UCLAGC

by UCLAgc
over 1 year ago

Lovely idea but I don't think you have really considered how this will work. Your thoughts about water are well-intentioned but somewhat immature considering increasing drought and increasing populations in Los Angeles. Getting LA "sustainable" (an annoying word) by 2050 is probably not possible until you solve water issues in a realistic fashion.

by katherine.rinne
over 1 year ago

Hi Makinodagen. If you have questions about the Thriving in a Hotter Los Angles Project, please write to us at If you are local, we can set up a time to meet... if you're not, we can talk by phone!

by Futterpop
over 1 year ago

So how does it work exactly?

by makinodagen
over 1 year ago

What a great initiative! I love how this team isn't afraid to dream big, and with all the resources and talented individuals at UCLA, I believe they can take real, practical steps to make this dream a reality!

by andrea.cabrera.737
over 1 year ago

If anyone can do it, it's UCLA.

by mockswell
over 1 year ago

Michael, that is the intent! We expect that the strategies we explore and adopt and the lessons we learn here will serve as a model for the rest of the world. Please vote if you haven't done so yet!

by Futterpop
over 1 year ago

I am so impressed by this project. Although this is focused on LA, I hope the lessons learned provides a blueprint for success throughout the USA and the rest of our planet!

by MichaelHutney
over 1 year ago

This is definitely something that Los Angeles needs. The project looks great and I hope it is successful!!

by swandro
over 1 year ago


by aehconet
over 1 year ago

This incredible project could serve as a model for urban areas worldwide and couldn't be more timely!

by darwinista
over 1 year ago

This is a hugely ambitious project that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination. It seems that UCLA has put their top people on the job, and seriously, I don't think that any other university could pull this off. Go Bruins!

by rivsma
over 1 year ago

What a well put together platform. And the quality of the video is outstanding!

by jazmin.barajas.54
over 1 year ago

This is a great initiative!!

by roxanamoya
over 1 year ago

Love the video

by amy.e.hawkins
over 1 year ago

This is such a great platform for Los Angeles!

by jwhslugger
over 1 year ago

I agree, it sounds extremely vague and almost a sort of way to fund UCLA interests. disappointing this was voted on.

by leslie.dugger
over 1 year ago

Thank you for the support. Please remember to vote!

by Futterpop
over 1 year ago

Pink ribbon award box icon 45b87e779c93f5099a48378c2aadc0fcd51184974daecf76e3f5c50034ea21fb
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Circle 1 inactive e7784182a1bd5eace578987db27fc19ec6337f418c48c6c8732605b9043d50d0 Step1 title submission inactive cde083e53089b973e7c9dc80a44a038c1ce4cf3b2650aeb5549157d1ed58a2d9

Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014