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Moving forward with a Comprehensive Sustainability Policy for Salt Lake City Corp

by Brooke Taylor

As our readers know, one of SLCgreen’s core goals is to help you adopt tips and practices to make your life more sustainable. Whether that’s reducing your contribution to air pollution, learning how to eat more local food, or understanding what to recycle, all of us have a role to play in making Salt Lake City a more sustainable place to live.

That goes for our own operations as well. One of the major areas of focus for SLCgreen (as the City’s Sustainability Department is known) is helping SLC Corporation adopt best practices when it comes to those same sustainability measures we ask of our community.

That’s why we’re delighted to share with you some elements of our new internal Sustainability Policy, signed in January 2017 by Mayor Biskupski.

Sustainability Collage

This policy affects Salt Lake City’s approximately 3,000 government employees, the community as a whole, our vendors, and the supply chains emanating from those vendors. By vowing to practice the best sustainable methods in all operations from prohibiting Styrofoam cups in break rooms, to carefully tracking our buildings’ energy usage, SLC is setting a community standard—a green standard.

We’d like to note that many of the guidelines in the Sustainability Policy were already in effect through various executive orders and policies, but this is the first time the best practices have been consolidated and turned into a comprehensive document.

If you’d like to read the whole policy, you can find it here.

Otherwise, read on for highlights . . .

Policy in Practice

  • Air Quality and Climate Change
    • Idling is prohibited in city vehicles for longer than 10 consecutive seconds, unless necessary for equipment operation, safety reasons, or other extenuating circumstances.
    • Departments are charged a carbon emissions offset cost after reporting round trip air travel required of city employees.
    • Each Department should have and update their Tailpipe Emissions Reduction Plans, which seek to optimize the right type of vehicles for each group’s needs. Over the years, we’ve successfully “right-sized” our fleet by generally reducing the number and size of vehicles in the City’s fleet. We’ve also transitioned many vehicles to cleaner sources and have over 200 alternative fueled vehicles.
    • Similarly, the City has an Energy Management Steering Committee which meets regularly to identify ways our buildings and Departments can save energy. (Read more here and check out the Mayor’s blog about our Commissioning Agent Cameron Scott.)
    • Employees can help by turning off lights when not in use, making sure their computers are on power-saving mode, and using power strips to manage appliances like coffee pots and tea kettles.
    • The City encourages carpooling, use of public transportation, teleworking, and virtual meetings.
  • Chemical Reduction
    • All cleaning products should be Green Seal or Ecologo certified to minimize common chemical use.
    • City employees should avoid using pesticides and other hazardous materials.
    • For those chemicals which are necessary, these materials must be recorded to track and monitor use.
  • Materials Management
    • Employees should think first of minimizing waste.
    • Recycling and reuse of products and materials is preferred and disposal should be treated as a LAST RESORT.
    • Easy and recommended ways to do this include:
      1. Storing and sharing files electronically instead of printing.
      2. When printing is absolutely necessary, print double sided with 0.75 in margins
      3. Here’s a good one: Use only durable products in break rooms (washable mugs, glasses, plates). Avoid buying disposable and single serving items (plastic utensils, paper plates, coffee pods, etc.)
      4. Finally, practice proper disposal methods. Compost food waste (fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells) in the city’s brown yard waste cans.
      5. Use the blue bin for regular recyclables and make sure every employee has an accessible recycling bin and knows what to put in it.
      6. The policy also reiterates that the City recycles its e-Waste.
  • Sustainable Procurement. 
    • Procurement is a wonky word and a complicated world, but it’s important. Ensuring we are developing and abiding by sustainable procurement practices means that Salt Lake City support markets for recyclable and environmentally friendly alternative products.
    • Here are some ways:
      • By purchasing ENERGY STAR certified products, EPA Water Sense products, Eco Logo or Green Sense products, and Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and paper products
      • Finally, the Sustainability Department has been doing a lot to encourage employees to recognize the connection between the food they eat and their carbon footprint. This is embodied in the policy by encouraging employees to purchase food and beverage with low carbon and water footprints (meaning the food is local, organic, and ideally vegan/vegetarian). Learn more about this in our Dining with Discretion topic area.
  • Water
    • Employees should be frugal when it comes to water use; keep conservation and efficiency in mind; report leaks; and make sure they have a plan for stormwater protection if they work with chemicals.

Sustainability: A Group Effort

Why is this policy so important to Salt Lake City’s future success?

If we are implementing new measures asking residents, businesses, and visitors of our city to help reduce air pollution, save water, and recycle– it is vital that we do the same in our daily practices. This policy also positions Salt Lake competitively alongside other cities participating in environmentally preferred and economically viable practices.

Through the policy, we are seeking to continue advancing the culture shift at our workplace towards sustainability with a more extensive scope of best practices.

We hope other employers and local governments will follow our lead! Has yours?

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