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Salt Lake City’s Largest Renewable Energy Project Has Broken Ground

by SLCgreen Clean Energy Intern Monica O’Malley

Salt Lake City Corporation has been using renewable energy to support government operations since 2005, when the Public Utilities Department started turning methane into energy at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Since then, the City has steadily added to its renewable energy profile. By installing solar panels on over a dozen city facilities, becoming the largest subscriber to Rocky Mountain Power’s Subscribe Solar program, and establishing the Salt Lake City Solar Farm, Salt Lake City is able to source roughly 14% of its municipal electricity from renewable energy sources.  Although 14% is certainly an accomplishment, it does not fulfill the City’s ambitious goals of achieving 50% renewable electricity for municipal operations by 2020 and 100% by 2030.  After taking small steps towards these goals for so many years, Salt Lake City is finally ready to run. 

On October 18th in Tooele County, the City commemorated its largest renewable energy procurement ever with the official groundbreaking of the 80 Megawatt solar farm known as the Elektron Solar Project. 

Representatives from Salt Lake City and other organizations stand in a large muddy field with shovels at the Elektron Solar Project groundbreaking event. They are all in colorful windbreakers and white Elektron Solar hardhats.
Salt Lake City helps break ground for the Elektron Solar Project.

Elektron Solar Project Will Take Salt Lake City to 50% Municipal Renewable Electricity Goal

With this extraordinary project, Salt Lake City will reach and likely exceed its 50% renewable energy goal for municipal electricity.  When the solar farm is up and running in 2023, it will power between 50 and 90% of the City’s municipal electricity consumption. Because electricity generation is responsible for over 50% of Salt Lake City’s municipal GHG emissions, the Electron Project will greatly reduce city emissions, helping to achieve the City’s emission reduction goals and improve air quality. 

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Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council is Building a More Equitable & Sustainable Food System

by SLCgreen Outreach Coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov

There are over three hundred food policy councils in the U.S., representing towns, cities, tribes, counties, and entire states. Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (FPC) is one of three in Utah, with another council in Ogden and one at the state level. Food Policy Councils unite community organizations to help guide policy related to our food systems. They inform local government on everything from food access and urban agriculture to food waste and climate concerns.

Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (formerly the Food Policy Task Force) was created in 2009. The group identifies policy and program opportunities and makes recommendation for how to create a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient community food system. Their first project was a sustainable code revision, which made it easier to keep chickens, bees, and grow food in Salt Lake. The FPC has supported the Sustainability Department on a variety of other initiatives over the last decade, including the SLC FruitShare program, the curbside composting program, the Square Kitchen Culinary Incubator, the Local Food Microgrant Fund, and much more. Fourteen members representing various sectors of the food system make up the FPC, from small farmers, to anti-hunger organizations, advocates for immigrant and refugee communities, and representatives of the public health sector.

This year, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future launched an initiative to help food policy councils around the country confront systemic racism and inequities in their local food systems. Fifteen councils from fifteen different states were selected to participate, including the Salt Lake City FPC! The initiative will help Salt Lake City as our FPC takes its next steps to build a more equitable food system.

Food, Equity, and Sustainability

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October 14th is International E-Waste Day!

Electronic Waste (also known as e-waste) is one of the fastest growing waste streams. It may come as a surprise, but it is estimated that in 2021, 57.4 million tons of e-waste will be produced worldwide. Unfortunately, only 17.4% of that waste, which can contain harmful as well as rare materials, is expected to be properly recycled. Statistics like this are why the WEEE Forum, an international group dedicated to developing best practices for managing waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), created International E-Waste Day.

Join SLCgreen in commemorating International E-Waste Day on October 14, 2021 by learning more about e-waste and how to properly recycle these materials.

International E-Waste Day October 14, 2021. Graphic shows a photo of a yellow bin filled with e-waste that is superimposed with a teal transparent filter. A small pink, yellow, and blue graphic shows different broken electronics next to the banner text. The SLCgreen logo is in the lower left corner.

What is E-Waste?

E-waste includes any electronic items– from cell phones to televisions– that have reached the end of their functional lives. A broken cell phone or smartwatch might feel like junk, but it is full of many precious materials such as gold, silver, copper, and lithium, that can be refurbished or recycled! Moreover, if not properly handled, electronic components can be hazardous. Electronic components often contain heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, and beryllium; PVC plastic; and other harmful chemicals.

Managing e-waste can be dangerous when not taken to the proper facility. Besides making your data an easy target if old phones or computers wind up in the wrong place, e-waste can also pose a threat to the health of waste management workers. By taking care to properly dispose of your e-waste, you can protect yourself and others while also putting valuable resources to good use!

What to do with E-Waste in Salt Lake City?

Navigating all the options for proper household waste management can be tricky. Luckily, if you live in Salt Lake City, there are many ways to recycle your e-waste:

  • Call 2 Haul: Salt Lake City residents can schedule a bulky waste pick up once a year through the Call 2 Haul program. Call 2 Haul will pick up bulky items that don’t fit or belong in your weekly curbside containers including e-waste, and make sure that the materials are properly handled and correctly diverted.
  • Salt Lake Valley Landfill Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off: The Salt Lake Valley Landfill accepts hazardous waste materials including e-waste, paint, oil, gasoline, antifreeze, batteries, propane, fluorescents, and chemicals in the Household Hazardous Waste drop off.
  • Specialty Recycling Services: Some businesses and specialty recyclers are able to accept e-waste for recycling and disposal. Check out our Specialty Recycling Services page for more resources for materials that don’t belong in your recycling or trash.

Whether you’re clearing out old tech, or just upgrading your phone, take the time to dispose of your e-waste safely. Remembering to recycle e-waste will help protect the environment from harmful chemicals and can save valuable resources for reuse!

In honor of International E-Waste Day, share this information with your networks to spread the word about what to do with electronic waste!

Going All Outlet: How to Electrify Your Home

by SLCgreen Clean Energy Intern Monica O’Malley

As we celebrate the 5th Annual Utah Climate Week, it is a great time to take stock of the ways we can act on climate at home. In our last post, we talked about the importance of energy efficiency. The cheapest and most “renewable” energy is the energy we don’t waste.

After you’ve made energy efficiency improvements to your home, it’s time to look at the type of fuel you’re using to power it!

Perhaps you have solar on your roof or a subscription to Blue Sky. Or maybe you’re supporting Salt Lake City’s efforts to move all of our community to net-100% renewable electricity!

As our electricity sources get cleaner, moving towards partially or fully electrifying your home is one of the many ways you can use to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as reduce local air pollution. When we advocate for building electrification, we mean switching to using all-electric appliances and heating/cooling systems in your home.

Building electrification can be accomplished at any stage — whether you are updating an old or broken appliance, renovating your space, building a new home, or just looking for ways to live more sustainably.

Benefitting the Environment

It may come as a surprise, but choosing energy efficient electric appliances and scaling-back the use of natural gas, heating oil and other fossil fuels will significantly reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions.

You might be thinking: But if my electric grid is powered primarily by fossil fuels, how will switching out my gas appliances for electric lower my carbon footprint? The short answer is energy efficiency and a grid transitioning to renewable sources.

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Home Energy Efficiency Tips for Utah Climate Week

It’s Utah Climate Week, which means that there are opportunities statewide to get involved with climate action in Utah.

But taking steps to help the environment can also start at home. Improving at-home energy efficiency will help you shrink your carbon footprint and save money.

Switching to high efficiency LED lights is a quick and easy way to save energy!

Why Energy Efficiency Matters

According to the EPA, around 40% of energy use in the United States is for generating electricity. Salt Lake City is working to move towards net-100% renewable electricity for the entire community by 2030. This means that more renewable energy will be fed into the grid, helping power everything from your lights to your phone chargers. But in the meantime, taking steps to improve your energy efficiency will go a long way to save energy!

SLCgreen’s Household Energy Actions Checklist outlines the ways you can save energy and money by taking small actions.

  • For example, switching to a low flow showerhead may seem simple, but it can help you save $18 annually and cut 250 pounds of CO2, not to mention the water savings.
  • Using a power strip to avoid energy vampires like phone chargers can help you save $96 per year and cuts 1,200 pounds of CO2!
  • And washing your laundry in cold water can save 1,270 pounds of CO2 annually and $92!

Reducing your energy use cuts down on emissions that contribute to global warming as well as local air pollution. As a result, energy conservation and efficiency can help build a healthier and more resilient community.

Resources & Incentives

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Celebrate the 5th Annual Utah Climate Week

September 26th to October 2nd marks the 5th annual Utah Climate Week! In Utah, we’ve experienced extreme heat, drought, and smoke from nearby wildfires all summer. Climate Week is an opportunity to work with local leaders to identify the impacts of climate change locally, and collaborate on solutions to ensure an equitable and resilient future for all Utahns.

Climate Week is organized by the Utah Climate Action Network, consists of local governments, non-profits, faith based organizations, businesses, and individuals who are working to build a more sustainable community. Each year, Climate Week gives us a chance to connect with each other and find solutions to the threat of climate change.

Climate Week Calendar in teal and green lettering.

2021 Climate Week Schedule

Over 50 organizations are participating in this year’s Climate Week with in-person and virtual programming across Utah. SLCgreen will be participating in the panel discussion on the Utah 100% Clean Energy Program on September 27th hosted by Sierra Club Utah. This virtual event will provide an update on the Utah 100 Communities‘ work to provide community-wide net-100% renewable electricity.

Utah Climate Week 2021 Transforming Utah's Energy landscape - Panel Discussion Monday September 27, 5:30-6:45pm.

Other events include a film on air pollution hosted by HEAL Utah, a panel discussion on managing business risk during climate change, and more. Check out the full lineup and register for these events on the Utah Climate Action Network’s event page.

Act On Climate

We need everyone’s help to Act on Climate in Utah and around the globe. There are many ways to take action, including investing in solar panels at your home, reducing your meat consumption, being mindful about energy use around the house, and finding ways to improve air quality like taking public transit or biking rather than driving.

Whether you’re a seasoned environmental advocate or you’re just starting out, Utah Climate Week is a chance to learn about the unique issues Utah faces as human caused climate change impacts our health, access to food, livelihoods, and communities. Participating in Utah Climate Week can help you find ways to Act On Climate all year.

Urban Farming Highlight: The Village Co-Op

by SLCgreen outreach coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov

One of the many ways SLCgreen furthers our sustainability goals is through supporting our local food system. Salt Lake City is committed to providing and facilitating funding for local food programs to enhance access to fresh, healthy, and sustainable food. In recent years, we’ve worked to relax ordinances to allow for backyard chickens and beekeeping, expanded the number of community gardens in the city, and contracted with Green Urban Lunchbox to run the SLC Fruitshare program.

Have you ever wondered how much food you could grow in your yard if you took the time to garden? We produced a Food Map that helps you find an estimate of your yard’s food production potential and provides resources that will educate and empower you to grow more food.

Many Salt Lake City locals are already growing thriving gardens. We recently sat down with one of Salt Lake’s urban farmers, Darin Mann, to talk about his garden, water reduction efforts, and food justice advocacy.

Growing Community

Darin Mann calls his neighborhood the “Venice of Salt Lake.” The garden of cabbages, kale, tomatoes, and everything in between, known officially as the “Village Co-op,” is nestled between  Fairpark and Rose Park, in one of the most ethnically diverse places in the state of Utah. On the other side of his farm stands a mosque and, next to it, a Buddhist temple. Just down the street is the Virgin of Guadalupe Catholic Church. An oasis of green in a crossroads of cultures.

Darin knows the neighborhood well. His farm isn’t called the Village Co-op for nothing: “Every single day I have at least 30 neighbors coming and talking to me about my garden,” he says. Add to that number the 200 families signed up to receive produce box alerts and upwards of 300 volunteers this season alone, and you start to see the sort of impact a small urban farm can have on the surrounding community.

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Resident Food Equity Advisors Reflect on the Past Year

Mayor Mendenhall and seven of the inaugural Salt Lake City Resident Food Equity Advisors, with the project consultant.

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Last year, as part of the city’s overall focus on equity and as part of an effort to co-create programs with residents, rather than for them, the Sustainability Department piloted the Resident Food Advisors Program.

Thirteen residents from a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds explored issues in the food system and strategized solutions for their communities, discussing everything from food vouchers to a food leadership academy, and in their final report, published last month, advocated the idea of an “Edible Salt Lake City” and made recommendations for how the city can achieve greater food equity.

We caught up with a few of the Advisors after their recent meeting with Mayor Erin Mendenhall to see how they’re feeling now that the report is out.

Zana Jokic, from Sarajevo, whose work as a medical interpreter has given her a unique perspective on healthy food access among immigrant communities, said she’s been sharing the report with everyone. “I’m so proud of our work,” she said. “I’m passing it around to friends, families, organizations,” anyone and everyone she can think of.

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Fall Tips for a Pesticide Free Yard

With this year’s drought, growing water-wise, pollinator-friendly yards is more important than ever. Whether you’re investing in water conservation landscaping or working on maintaining the vitality of your lawn after our extreme summer, going pesticide free can help keep your yard – and community – healthy and flourishing.

Pesticides can pose health risks, especially for children, pregnant women, and older populations. Many pesticides are also linked to declines in bird and pollinator populations. Eliminating the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers is a great step towards protecting our community from harmful chemicals.

Establishing a healthy organic yard may require a little extra work up front, and fall is the perfect time to get started!

We’ve gathered some of our best tips and resources to help you restore soil health in your yard and eliminate pesticides in your lawn care. Check it out!

Graphic includes a photo of bright green grass on a teal, green, and chartreuse, backdrop. Text in white reads "Pesticide Free Lawn Care Organic lawn care is simple! And now is the time to start!" with the SLCgreen logo.
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Richmond Park Becomes Latest Addition to Salt Lake’s Community Gardens

Salt Lake City is proud to support Wasatch Community Gardens’ work to grow the City’s robust collection of community gardens. Last month, Salt Lake City and Wasatch Community Gardens (WCG) celebrated the opening of the newest addition: the Richmond Park Community Garden.

Wasatch Community Gardens and Salt Lake City partners at Richmond Park Community Garden.

Green City Growers

Over the years, Salt Lake City has partnered with WCG through the Green City Growers program to help coordinate the use of city-owned or managed land for community garden plots. The plots are managed by WCG and help Salt Lake City residents build a more robust and sustainable food system.

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