PRESS RELEASE: USGBC-LA Announces Suite of Wildfire Defense Tools for Southern Californians including Best Practices, Presentations, and Professional Certification


LOS ANGELES (September 6, 2022) Southern California now faces a 365-days-a-year fire season with devastating and potentially deadly consequences. The U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter (USGBC-LA) has been working with a suite of experts to provide steps residents can take to protect properties, to reduce wildfire hazards, and increase resilience. USGBC-LA is announcing a trifecta of important tools for all to use as a resource in approaching Wildfire Defense:

  • A new FREE Wildfire Defense Toolkit, to learn about risk reduction strategies property and homeowners can take, along with best practices and community resources.
  • A Sept. 8th online event, “USGBC-LA and SCAG: Wildfire Defense Forum and Virtual Tour”, to focus on why the latest fire science says ‘thinking home first’ is essential.
  • An upcoming launch of a certification workshop for contractors and landscaping professionals to build firewise professional expertise.

All these tools are part of USGBC-LA’s Wildfire Defense Education and Tours initiative, launched after the Woolsey Fire in 2018, to promote awareness by providing resource guides by topic and expert advice to empower our community, property owners, designers, and managers to proactively reduce wildfire hazards and minimize losses. The toolkit and upcoming certifications are funded by Edison International, the State Farm Foundation, and SoCalGas.

(Source: https://www.houzz.com/magazine/fire-wise-landscapes-can-help-keep-)your-home-and-property-safe-stsetivw-vs~73300990)

“It is essential we provide resources like these to home and property owners, as well as a certification pathway for the architects, builders, developers, urban planners and landscapers who have critical roles to play in moving toward a more sustainable southern California for all,” states Ben Stapleton, USGBC-LA Executive Director. “Wildfire Defense is an important element of increasing our regional resilience, and education is the key element of our programming, from tours to toolkits.”

He adds, “I can’t wait to launch the professional certifications that will offer any one of us the opportunity to hire a contractor who really understands how to build and maintain homes or landscapes with wildfire in mind. Much appreciation to our Wildfire Defense Advisory group in helping create this course which we are launching this Fall!”

The Wildfire Defense toolkit provides context and definitions around wildfire through a lens of sustainability; home hardening strategies for different parts of the home; defensible space direction and design; emergency preparedness; and generally compiles essential wildfire defense resources from experienced professionals including Ready, Set, Go! (CA  Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) Ready, Set, Go!), and resources made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Fire Protection Association  (NFPA), and others.

The Sept. 8th event with SCAG will host leaders in fire defensive home design, construction, assessment, retrofits, and related policies. Attendees will learn – via a panel, a fire-resilient home virtual tour, and discussion – why thinking “home first” is essential to wildfire protection, how to “harden” a home to fire, and how best practices in fire defensive building relate to our overall resilience. This event is FREE and open to ANYONE interested.

USGBC-LA has a history of envisioning and investing in unique professional education with certifications that make a tangible impact in and around all our buildings – from the Green Janitor Education Program, focused on a building’s energy and water use, cleaning for a healthy building, and empowering janitors, to the Landscaper Certificate, focused on successfully managing California native plants and gardens. The upcoming Wildfire Defense Certificate, will expand this career development portfolio for those in the construction and landscaper fields, while providing property owners additional expertise – not available prior – as they try to build or retrofit as safely and consciously as possible with wildfire in mind.

“Edison International is proud to support USGBC-LA and other partners in the release of the Wildfire Defense Toolkit for California Homeowners. This toolkit will increase awareness of useful resources and educative information that will assist community members be better prepared to combat destructive wildfires,” said Alejandro Esparza, SCE principal manager of Philanthropy and Community Engagement.

“SoCalGas supports the important work of USGBC-LA to work with builders and designers to integrate energy efficiency, firescaping and water conservation into the development of more sustainable communities,” states Darren Hanway, manager of energy programs and strategy at SoCalGas.

For more information on the Wildfire Defense Education & Tours, please click here, or contact Fernanda Zuin at fernanda@usgbc-la.org. For information on USGBC-LA, please visit USGBC-LA.org or contact Ben Stapleton at ben@usgbc-la.org.

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About U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles

Founded in 2002, USGBC-LA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable future within one generation. Our mission is to accelerate all aspects of sustainability in the built environment by delivering access to knowledge, resources, recognition and networking. Learn, Share and Lead Green. (www.usgbc-la.org)

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