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Salt Lake City Bids Farewell to Tyler Poulson

Change is in the air at SLCgreen.

In July, we said goodbye to long-time program manager Bridget Stuchly who launched and ran our local food programs for 11 years. In August, we welcomed new team member Supreet Gill. Then, last week, we moved offices from the first floor to the fourth floor in the City County Building.

Phew!

Today we eat the last donut with our co-worker Tyler Poulson, who’s been with SLCgreen since 2013. He and his wife are moving out of state.

Tyler Poulson touring the Scatec Solar Farm in Central Utah, 2015.

We’re a tight team at SLCgreen and while we hate to see our co-workers go (even though we know it’s for new and exciting chapters), it does give us an opportunity to reflect on all they’ve done and how our community has been shaped by their service.

That is certainly true for Tyler.

If you’ve ever heard him give a presentation, you’ll hear this story: After working in finance, Tyler became driven to use his background to do something about climate change and its threat to global society. He pursued a master’s degree in economics from the University of Utah and focused his thesis on the nexus between climate change and economics. Some of the findings from his thesis, Carbon Emissions Reduction Strategies for Utah Households Operating Under a Budget Constraint, are included in our public outreach strategies.

“Many of the challenges presented by climate change are best understood through the social sciences,” he told the U. “By analyzing opportunities for reducing our carbon footprints through an economic lens, we can reveal the most appealing pathways that simultaneously benefit individuals, communities, and the broader environment.”

This passion took him into municipal government, first as Park City’s Environmental Sustainability Manager and then in to his current role as the Senior Energy & Climate Program Manager with Salt Lake City.

Tyler being interviewed by a local news station, 2017.

In the last six years, he has led our work on climate for internal operations and in the community, creating programs and inspiring action on a large scale.

Internally, he’s done everything from managing the carbon accounting of Salt Lake City, to researching and establishing guidelines for the expansion of our suite of municipal clean vehicles, to running the Energy Management Steering Committee, to facilitating the installation of solar infrastructure on City buildings and the expansion of our electric vehicle charging network. He also led the development of internal Climate Response Plans that embedded energy, fleet fuel and climate adaptation considerations within City departments and divisions.

As time went on, the scale of our climate programs grew. In 2016, Tyler led the development of our community carbon reduction plan, Climate Positive SLC. This plan expressed the ambitions of the Mayor and City Council, who jointly established Salt Lake City as the 16th city in the country to set a 100% clean energy goal.

The resolution led to the exciting collaboration with our electric utility, Rocky Mountain Power, on a Cooperation Statement and a Clean Energy Implementation Plan. This partnership ultimately culminated in the passage of HB 411 and the continuing work on the implementation of the Community Renewable Energy Act to meet Salt Lake City’s clean energy goals.

Getting excited over SLC’s latest Level 2 EV chargers, 2019.

Many people worked on these initiatives, but Tyler was the key organizer, researcher, communicator, presenter, and all-around do-er from the communities’ side.

The achievement of HB 411 was one of the most high-profile of Tyler’s tenure, but certainly not his only one.

Tyler, Bridget, and our team became more convinced of the need to connect not just our energy and transportation systems to climate, but our food system as well.

He and Bridget developed Salt Lake City’s Dining with Discretion program as one of the first local government entities talking about the enormous impact that can be had on emissions by shifting to a plant-based diet.

In the course of his policy work, he also became convinced of the necessity to foster excellent communication skills on climate— not only for himself but for everyone who wants to work on this issue.

In 2015, he led an innovative program at Salt Lake City Corporation called “Climate Leaders that worked with appointees from all of our departments on generating greater understanding of climate change, culminating with a project that would address it in a way relevant to their department’s work.

In 2018, Tyler and Utah Clean Energy worked on a similar community-focused curriculum to increase communication skills and understanding of climate change among a group of community members.

It’s not a secret to us how passionate Tyler is about the critical importance of a good presentation — and a good slide deck. He’s helped us all trim down the words on our PowerPoints, improve the images, and think about the story we’re telling– not just the bullet points we want to hit. So, of course, there was a presentation on the art of good presentations during the climate communications course. (If you too would like to learn how to do this, check out one of our favorite books– slide:ology)

Tyler also became driven to create opportunities for people to come together with the understanding that the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

A convening of local elected officials to discuss climate change and the policy of carbon fees — a topic Tyler has elevated in Salt Lake City.

There is so much amazing, important work being done on climate change in our community, but we must get out of our silos to achieve the kind of sweeping change that’s needed. We can do so much more if we collaborate and communicate with each other. It was with this in mind that he worked with our Director Vicki Bennett and other convening organizations on the creation of the Utah Climate Action Network.

Tyler speaking to interns about the City’s commitment to clean energy and efficient construction at the Net Zero Public Safety Building.

We’re lucky to have the community and political support to do this important work here in Salt Lake City. Tyler’s efforts have been a reflection of the broad desire in Salt Lake City to move the needle– not just on climate change, but on how we collaborate on this challenging, all-encompassing work.

Moments like these put us in a reflective space:

We’re lucky to have elected officials who inspire and support us; colleagues in local government here and afar who collaborate and teach us; community partners in non-profits, utilities, businesses, and state leaders who partner with us to make change. We’re lucky to have a community of residents who care for our environment and our future and want to see us continue to do more for our home and our planet. They– you– are the reason we get to do this work. Thank you.

And: we’re lucky to have inspiring, smart, dedicated team members like Tyler who have worked tirelessly for YEARS, behind-the-scenes, showing that we CAN and we ARE making things happen on something as difficult and frustrating and important as climate change.

Cheers to changemakers! And cheers to Tyler!

Eating some delicious vegan food at the opening of Square Kitchen, 2018.

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