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Connect SLC and Sustainability

Did you know that Salt Lake City is working on a new transportation master plan? Master plans are a great way to engage with your city and help make it a place YOU want to live in!

The last transportation master plan for Salt Lake City was published in 1996, over twenty years ago. In 2021, the Salt Lake City Transportation Division began Connect SLC, an extensive process to collect data, engage the public, and eventually create a new plan that better meets the needs of the city’s current residents.

Currently, the city is in Phase 2 of their civic engagement process and you can weigh in!

Phase 1 consisted of collecting values: air quality and the environment, reliability, safety, affordability, and equitable access to opportunity. With these values in mind, Phase 2 consists of expressing possible policy recommendations that the city could take and getting even more feedback from residents and user-groups!

What does this have to do with sustainability?

Everything! How we commute around the city has a major impact on the air we breathe, as well as other physical health concerns. Increasing access to safe routes for alternative transit increases the likelihood of people using it. This means fewer cars on the road, leading to lower emissions, and better air quality.

Additionally, improving accessibility to public transit makes choosing public transit more convenient, also increasing the likelihood of usage! This decreases the reliance on single-occupancy vehicles which in turn decreases emissions per person.

Data provided by the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration

The Salt Lake City Transportation Department has created an interactive website featuring policy recommendations for each value and an opportunities to provide feedback and comments.

Take this easy opportunity to provide feedback for your city!

It’s Bike Month!

At SLCgreen, we love biking for many reasons! Not only is choosing to commute with a bike better for human health, it’s also super beneficial to the environment (which also relates to our health).

This week, celebrate Bike Month by joining us on Mayor’s Bike to Work Day!

When: Wednesday, April 17th at 7:30am

Starts: Allen Park

Ends: City & County Building

Why do we love bikes?

Moving into the summer months it’s important to remember that air quality is still an issue. As we commute around the city, to work, festivals, and/or the farmer’s market, biking provides an environmentally friendly alternative to single occupancy vehicles. In the summer, pollution from cars, industry, and a multitude of chemical products, combined with high temperatures and bright sunshine, lead to harmful ozone levels.

Choosing to ride a bike is a great way to personally reduce your impact on climate change and help reduce air pollution!

International Compost Week 2022!

Did you know that last week was International Compost Week? This year’s theme is Recipe for Regeneration: Compost which means focusing “on the crucial role recycling our food scraps and yard trimmings plays by creating compost, which when added to soil results in a recipe that makes our food more nutritious, the air we breathe cleaner and our climate healthier overall.” Last week, from May 1 – May 7, we celebrated everything compost!

Composting is the most local form of recycling. By taking our food scraps and turning them into compost at our local Salt Lake Valley Landfill and then returning them to our yards and gardens to produce healthy and beautiful plants, we create a closed loop! The landfill is located at 6030 W. California Ave. (1300 S.), Salt Lake City , UT 84104 and is open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 5pm. If you have questions, you can contact the landfill at 385-468-6370.

Why Compost?

Prevents soil erosion- Composting prevents erosion by binding soil together, increasing infiltration, and slowing the surface flow of water.

Manages stormwater- Compost helps to control water flows on and through soil, thereby proving to be a capable tool for stormwater management.

Promotes healthier plant growth- Compost balances soil density, adds and retains nutrients, and discourages disease, pests and weeds.

Conserves water- Compost retains and efficiently transfers water through the soil, allowing surrounding plants to maximize water for growth. This in turn saves you money by minimizing the amount of irrigation you will have to provide to your project!

Reduces Waste- Compost is generally made from waste (food scraps, yard waste, organic byproducts, etc) that is diverted from landfill flows. This reduces the amount of waste going to landfills and it upcycles those materials into a productive, environmentally beneficial product.

Combats climate change- Composting cuts down on greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and makes ecosystems more resilient to rising temperatures. .

Reduces project management costs- Compost promotes healthy plant growth, thereby reducing mortality and subsequent replacement costs. Additionally, compost promotes drought resistance which lowers artificial irrigation costs.

Improves soil health- Compost adds nutrients and soil biota, and improves the biological, chemical and structural health of soils.

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Join Us in Celebrating Earth Day 2022!

Earth Day is coming up this Friday, April 22!

Read on for ways to get involved by volunteering, taking action, or learning what you can do to celebrate Earth Day every day!

Earth Day Events

Salt Lake City has had a wealth of Earth Day focused events going on all month. Looking for something to do before the month is over to celebrate all the cool things our planet does? Wanting to learn some ways you can help keep our Earth healthy or support those pushing for big changes? Do we have the website for you!

Check out our Earth Day 2022 website for a list of amazing events going on across the city.

This weekend, there’s an Earth Day Jordan River Clean Up with HEAL Utah; Party for the Planet events with both Tracy Aviary and Hogle Zoo (come say “Hi!” if you see us at Hogle Zoo!); or watch the Climate Change Film Tour with Utah Clean Energy and  The Nature Conservancy at the Salt Lake Film Society’s Broadway Cinema.

Can’t make it this weekend? Don’t worry, we’ve found events to last you through the rest of the month.

Read more

Salt Lake City Hosted Region 8 Administrator KC Becker for Environmental Forum

This past week we had the pleasure of hosting the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator KC Becker and her colleague Mark Smith for a round table discussion with advocates from 14 environmental groups and agencies across the city.

The EPA provides support and research to protect and improve public and environmental health, as well as enforces and regulates environmental protections. Region 8 is made up of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montano, North Dakota and South Dakota, and 28 Tribal Nations.

KC Becker, the current Region 8 administrator, has 18 years of experience as a public servant for both federal and state organizations. Prior to being appointed as the Region 8 administrator, KC served in the Colorado State Legislature for 4 terms, spending two years as House Majority Leader and two years as the Speaker of the House – at the time, one of only seven female speakers in the United States.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together local sustainability movers and shakers to hear about their/our concerns surrounding environmental issues in Utah and how the EPA can help!

Earlier in the day, she met with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, learned about Salt Lake City’s unique environmental projects and issues, and shared EPA’s priorities.  Administrator Becker also spent some of her time in Utah meeting with the State Department of Environmental Quality.

The EPA is currently focusing on supporting initiatives it has funding for through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill- specifically looking at the redevelopment of brownfields, infrastructure improvements and upgrades, lead pipes, and cleaning up Superfund sites.

Administrator Becker spoke about the EPA’s mission to center environmental justice in all aspects of its work; building stronger relationships with environmental justice groups, community groups, and other non-governmental organizations; and ensuring that all decisions are science-based and focusing on public health outcomes.

Representatives from local groups highlighted their desire for EPA’s support or advice on issues related to air quality, the recent Inland Port developments, the health of the Great Salt Lake, water quality and access, uranium waste in southern Utah, and funding opportunities for the many goals and initiatives of the groups attending.

Overall, the meeting was invigorating and inspiring. Administrator Becker left us with much to do and the support (within her ability) of our regional EPA leaders.


The 2022 Lawnmower Exchange is Almost Here!

Salt Lake City residents can pre-register now to swap out their polluting lawnmowers for an electric upgrade

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The State of Utah’s Lawnmower Exchange is back, and Salt Lake City will once again be participating!

In case you didn’t hear about last year’s lawnmower exchange, the program consists of residents exchanging their gas-powered mower for a (max: $299) coupon for an electric mower.

You might be wondering: Why lawnmowers? Lawnmowers are a significant source of air pollution. In terms of emissions, running a gas-powered lawn mower puts out the equivalent criteria pollution to driving a car 64 miles, according to the Division of Air Quality.

Switching to an electric mower is much cleaner. They’re easier to maintain and quieter to operate too!

Launching and funding this program every year is one of Mayor Mendenhall’s goals.

Last year, we provided funding for the exchange of 509 mowers, removing 4.02 tons of pollution from the airshed each and every year.

This year, our goal is to swap out 1,000 gas-guzzling mowers for clean electric options.

The 2022 Lawnmower Exchange

Switching to an electric lawn mower is a small way that you can make a big impact on our air quality.

Program highlights:

  • This year, the program is a coupon-based program ($299) for the online purchase of an electric mower of your choice through the vendors Home Depot or Redback.
  • FIRST, enter the lottery through our Salt Lake City resident pre-registration form NOW, or by signing up on the State’s website beginning at noon on April 4.
  • The State will notify you via email on Wednesday, April 6 if you have been randomly selected to participate.
  • SECOND: If you were selected, recycle your mower by taking it to a metal recycler OR by scheduling a pickup through Call 2 Haul.
  • After your mower has been recycled, you will receive a recycling verification number. Enter it on this site to unlock your coupon code.
  • THIRD: ORDER ONLINE: Once you select a vendor (Home Depot or Redback), you cannot change your mind and pick a different vendor! Input the coupon code at checkout.
  • You will have through April 17 to place your online order. Coupons will be invalid after that point.
  • $299 coupons will not work on an electric mower retailing less than $299.

For more information, visit slc.gov/sustainability/lawnmower/.

If you are not a Salt Lake City Resident, sign up at lawnmower.utah.gov on April 4th at 12pm.

Thank you for helping improve air quality!

Be a Recycling Champion! Sign up for SLC’s 2022 Master Recycler Program!

Become a champion for reducing, reusing, and recycling in our community!

Are you interested in the ever-changing landscape of recycling?

Do you want to learn why composting is an integral part of waste diversion?

Have you always wondered why glass is recycled separately in Salt Lake City?

Or wanted to learn how to effectively promote recycling practices within your community?

Salt Lake City Green is excited to announce the 2022 Salt Lake City Master Recycler program! Register now at SLCMasterRecycler.com.

Applications will be accepted through Monday, April 4th (unless we fill up sooner).

This FREE program provides in-depth education about recycling, composting, policy and solid waste management for Salt Lake City community members and professional sustainability practitioners.

Master Recyclers touring the recycling facility (aka a MRF site.)
Master Recyclers touring Momentum Recycling.

The Master Recycler program gives participants a behind-the-scenes look at Salt Lake City’s waste management system from bin to the recycling plant.

Participants are required to attend two “core” classes, Waste and Materials Management I and II, which include tours of the Salt Lake Valley Landfill, Waste Management’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF), and Wasatch Resource Recovery’s anaerobic digester!

After finishing these two classes, participants choose a minimum of four additional electives, and two hands on activities (however, they can take up to 6 electives and 3 activities) from a variety of options, like; Compost 101; Food Waste with Wasatch Resource Recovery; Business & Multi-family Unit Recycling; Glass Recycling; Policy Making 101; and Living a Zero-Waste Lifestyle.

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Salt Lake City Accepted into Prestigious Program to Advance Commercial-Scale Solar on the Westside

To read the Mayor’s Press Release online, click here.

Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department is one of just eight teams across the country selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to receive project support for an initiative to increase solar adoption in commercial buildings on the city’s Westside. NREL made the announcement last week as part of the third round of its program known as the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) with the goal of discovering transformative ways to enable the equitable adoption of solar in underserved communities.

In close partnership with the non-profit Utah Clean Energy, Salt Lake City will work with stakeholders to increase awareness of existing incentive programs for solar and battery storage, and develop new recommendations for financing mechanisms and incentive programs to increase solar adoption in areas of the city that have faced economic hardships and energy injustice.

“Investing in clean energy is key to addressing our climate, public health, and economic resiliency over the coming years,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We need to make sure more members of our community have access to it and this project will go a long way toward that goal.”

The Salt Lake City SEIN project brings together technical experts with community partners and Westside businesses to identify challenges, opportunities, and next steps to increase the amount of solar on rooftops across the Westside’s businesses, warehouses, offices, retail stores, and other commercial properties.

The Salt Lake City team comprises Utah Clean Energy, the Suazo Business Center, Rocky Mountain Power, the Utah Office of Energy Development, Centro Civico Mexicano, the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs, and McKinstry.

“We selected teams that are experimenting with creative, promising ideas to use solar power in underserved communities across the United States,” said Eric Lockhart, who leads the Innovation Network at NREL. “The work of these teams will provide a blueprint for other communities pursuing novel ways of adopting and benefiting from solar energy.”

The Salt Lake City team’s participation in the Solar Energy Innovation Network will include financial, analytical, and facilitation support as it works to anticipate and address new challenges and opportunities stemming from equitable solar energy adoption and other distributed energy technologies.

Specifically, this project will make recommendations on how to refine Rocky Mountain Power’s battery incentive program with an emphasis on underserved and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) commercial customers. It will also develop recommendations for new financing mechanisms and/or a state-wide clean energy fund that expands underserved communities’ access to the benefits of solar energy.

“Rooftop solar has grown significantly in Utah and yet remains out of reach for too many Utahns, particularly in underserved communities that have been passed over by programs designed to make solar more accessible and affordable,” said Kate Bowman, Renewable Energy Program Manager with Utah Clean Energy. “Rooftop solar can provide a needed reprieve from monthly utility burdens, and essential backup power during grid outages. Participation in this network will help us explore how to overcome the barriers to solar adoption in the communities that stand to benefit the most.”

The Solar Energy Innovation Network is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 

See NREL’s news story here: https://www.nrel.gov/news/program/2022/round-three-announcement-solar-energy-innovation-network.html

See the Salt Lake Tribune story of this effort: “The air on Salt Lake City’s west side may enjoy a brighter future. Here’s why.”

Reshaping Our Future: The 2022 Intermountain Sustainability Summit

Over 400 sustainability professionals, engaged citizens, and emerging leaders will gather virtually on March 16-18 for the Intermountain Sustainability Summit. It’s Utah’s largest sustainability conference, and also one of our favorite yearly events! In the past, the event has occurred at Weber State University, but due to safety concerns, it will occur virtually again this year.

The Summit is hosted by Weber State University’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center (SPARC) and was created to increase sustainability practices by engaging students, sustainability professionals, and the general public in topics such as clean energy infrastructure, green buildings, urban water, and other sustainability topics.

The 2022 Intermountain Sustainability Summit features three days of events, including the pre-summit workshop on Wednesday, March 16, the main Summit day on Thursday, March 17, and workshops on Friday, March 18.

This year’s event includes over 50 local and national speakers on topics like Clean Energy, Buildings & Cities, Equity, Climate & Engagement, Zero Waste, and more.

SLCgreen’s own Christopher Thomas and Peter Nelson are presenting on the main summit day! Christopher will present Utah 100 Communities: How Local Communities Are Leading on The Renewable Energy Program. Peter will present Residential Electrification in Utah: An Economic Lens.

Our RDA team will also be presenting about the Sustainable Development Policy they passed last year that requires all new buildings funded by the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) to meet energy efficiency requirements.

Perhaps the most exciting thing is this year’s keynote speakers: physicist and climate communicator, Rob Davies, and award-winning science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson.

Dr. Davies is a physicist whose work focuses on global change, human vibrancy, and the science of systems. He has delivered hundreds of public lectures ― to policymakers, business leaders, civic organizations and faith communities. He has also worked as a scientific liaison for NASA.

Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of more than twenty books, including the international bestselling Mars trilogy, and The Ministry for the Future. He has been called a “Hero of the environment” by Time magazine.

Check out the schedule of events that not only includes speakers, but also makes time for social networking, collaboration, and a student poster competition!

Day 1’s pre-summit workshop on Wednesday, March 16 will focus on “Securing Utah’s Balanced Water Future in a Climate Change World,” a workshop that will continue on the final day, Friday, March 18, as well.

Everyone is welcome at the Intermountain Sustainability Summit! If you are interested in attending, register here.

The Summit is open to professionals, students, and the general public! We hope to see you there!

Announcing the 2022-2023 Resident Food Equity Advisors Program!

The Resident Food Equity Advisors program is currently accepting applications for 2022-2023!

Food security and equitable access to food resources are closely tied to environmental justice and climate change issues. With this in mind, the Sustainability Department launched the Resident Food Equity Advisors (RFEA) program in 2020 in an effort to create programs with residents rather than simply for them.

In the 2020-2021 cohort, 13 advisors from a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences with food collaborated on creating a set of recommendations for the City. The program culminated in a meeting with Mayor Mendenhall and a final report summarizing the Advisors’ key ideas on how the City can advance food equity. The 2022-23 program will focus on prioritizing and developing the food equity solutions recommended by the first cohort.

The 2022-2023 cohort will consist of many of the same advisors in order to continue their successful work, but we are also hoping to add 3-4 new perspectives into the group.

The first group meeting of the 2022-2023 RFEA cohort will be held in April.

Applications for the 2022-2023 program are due on March 6, 2022. Priority will be given to applicants from underrepresented communities.

Good candidates are residents who are passionate about food, engaged in their community, and have firsthand experience of the challenges that many residents face getting the food they want and need.

Ideal applicants will be interested in sharing their knowledge and ideas on what the City can do to increase access to healthy, affordable and culturally relevant food for all. Priority will be given to applicants from underrepresented communities who live in the Glendale, Poplar Grove, Ballpark, Central City, or southwest Liberty Wells neighborhoods, but residents from any part of Salt Lake City are welcome to apply.

Read more about the program and access the application information here.

And see our previous blog posts: