The Newhall Ranch project in Los Angeles County was highlighted for its proactive and innovative strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

A strategy to gain approvals for the development of the Newhall Ranch community in Los Angeles County — built around the project’s net-zero impact on climate change — was recently featured in a report by the Financial Times that profiled proactive approaches to navigating environmental legal challenges.

The featured article was part of the FT’s annual North America Innovative Lawyers report, which ranks and analyzes creative legal work by law firms and in-house executives based on their originality, leadership, and impact.

Working with FivePoint, the developer of Newhall Ranch, Latham & Watkins lawyers in the firm’s Environment, Land & Resources Department helped advance a unique approach to simultaneously gain regulatory approvals for Newhall Ranch while resolving “more than 17 years of ongoing environmental litigation that had prevented developer FivePoint from commencing construction,” according to the FT. Known as Net Zero Newhall, the initiative is part of an unprecedented commitment to make Newhall Ranch one of the most environmentally sustainable master-planned communities in the nation.

Located in the Santa Clarita Valley, Newhall Ranch will set a new standard of sustainability by protecting vast areas of open space for public use and reducing or mitigating net greenhouse gas emissions to zero. Currently under construction, the community will include approximately 21,500 homes, 11.5 million square feet of commercial space, and 10,000 acres of open space. The development plan includes a comprehensive array of green innovations onsite and within Los Angeles County, as well as funding for direct emissions reduction activities around the world — including a cook-stove project in Africa, featured in the FT’s report, through which carbon reductions are being applied to mitigate emissions in California.

In honoring the work as Highly Commended, the Financial Times reported that Latham and FivePoint collaborated to use “complex models to project emissions from the project and put it on a path to becoming one of the most sustainable in the state.” The innovative work, noted the FT, comes at a time when “lawyers are increasingly being asked to help clients navigate regulations concerning the environment.”

Latham placed as a top-five law firm overall in the 2018 North America Innovative Lawyers index and scored among the top five firms in the Legal Expertise category.