Deputy Secretary Meets with LADWP & Gets Sneak Peek of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Sep 22, 2015

On September 16th, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall met with Los Angeles city leaders to witness the finishing touches being put on the upcoming La Kretz Innovation Campus, and soon-to-be home of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. When the campus opens next month, it aims to be LA’s clean energy industry hub. 

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator is a collaboration between various City of Los Angeles agencies. It was conceptualized in 2008 between the Presidents of Cal Tech, USC, UCLA and the key economic development organizations of the City (Los Angeles Local Development Corporation, Los Angeles Business Council, Central City Association), Department of Public Works and the Community Redevelopment Agency to meet the research and development needs of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

Located in the heart of the MATEO arts district and in close proximity to a new Arts District park, the front of the street-facing building has a large steel-cut sign designed by local architects John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, Inc. The campus itself is named after Los Angeles real estate legend, Morton La Kretz. A life-long resident of the city, La Kretz has been well known for decades for his philanthropy and love of the environment. He has also been an advocate for bringing together diverse interests and creating a place where policymakers, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs can come together to help solve some of the most pressing energy, economic, and sustainability issues facing the city today.

Surrounded by green and sustainable outdoor spaces, La Kretz comprises 3.2 acres and includes an 8,500 sq. ft. prototyping manufacturing workshop with laboratories. This area is to be shared by campus tenants for workforce training, prototyping construction and demonstration and light manufacturing. A demonstration center will allow for testing of electric vehicle technologies, solar photovoltaics, lighting, HVAC, plumbing and irrigation components.

The workforce training facility will be a place where interested professionals can learn about tools, equipment and technology to embark on a green career. Anchoring the campus is a 30,000-square-foot Cleantech Incubator office space that will provide 50+ companies a place to collaborate, meet, work and enjoy meals together.

LADWP provided 42% of the construction costs for the campus but will benefit through use of 50% of the space. Within this space, LADWP staff will be sharing the LKIC Prototype Manufacturing Lab with onsite businesses to establish research and development without the burden of financial risk. This type of farm or feeder system for new technology allows LADWP a “first look” capability to enhance its practices and operations.

“This strategy allows LADWP to identify, test innovations and ultimately implement technologies that have the potential to enhance sustainable practices, which directly benefit our customers,” said Nancy Sutley, LADWP’s Chief Sustainability & Economic Development Officer. “As we transition out of coal power and deal with ongoing drought conditions, it is imperative that we develop creative solutions to meet our energy and water needs.”

Some examples of improved water conservation, energy efficiency and storage innovations include high efficient HVAC systems, lighting control systems, LED lights, 175 KW PV systems, micro-grid systems, Level 2 and Fast Charger stations, low water use fixtures, water infiltration, capture and treatment of storm water runoff, and water efficiency landscape irrigated via graywater systems.

To date, more than 40 companies have been incubated by the LACI, in turn creating more than 700 new jobs. In addition, companies developed at the incubator are expected to create 1,680 new jobs and generate $85 million in annual sales.

Prior to the construction of the campus, the existing 1923 unreinforced 60,000 sq. ft. one-story brick masonry building was in need of rehabilitation and seismic upgrades. The project will rehabilitate the building to LEED Gold or higher standards to house LACI, LADWP’s Customer Engagement Center and Energy Efficiency and Technology Laboratory, Prototype Manufacturing Workshop and Laboratories, and the Clean Tech Institute Workforce Training Facility.

Now with funding from DOE and the City, the campus will open its door with compelling, first-class accommodations to help spur creative and proactive problem solving in Downtown Los Angeles. 

If you are a potential portfolio company or strategic partner interested in learning more about the campus, sign up to participate in a free walking tour happening over the next few months.