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SLCgreen Welcomes Debbie Lyons as Sustainability Department Director

This summer, SLCgreen’s Debbie Lyons stepped into the role of Sustainability Department Director after the retirement of our long-time director Vicki Bennett. We are thrilled that Debbie will oversee the City’s goals to achieve 100% community renewable energy, reduce emissions connected to climate change, conserve resources, reduce air pollution, and improve community access to fresh, healthy food. Join us in celebrating Debbie’s new role with a look back at how her career has shaped Salt Lake City’s innovative programs and initiatives for over 25 years!

Photo of Debbie Lyons in front of garden in Washington Square.

Prioritizing Safety and Sustainability

After earning a degree in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety from BYU, Debbie started her work with Salt Lake City in 1995 as an intern with the Public Services Department. During her time as an intern, Debbie was instrumental in developing elements of Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling program that continue to have significant impacts, including the first City-wide curbside recycling and compost programs, the expansion of glass recycling around the state, and the City & County Building’s first office paper recycling program.  

Debbie moved into the role of Safety Manager for the Public Services Department, collaborating on city-wide safety policy and programs, and continuing to provide policy support for the Waste & Recycling Division.

As the need for swift climate action became more and more apparent, Salt Lake City created the first Sustainability Office under Mayor Ralph Becker. In 2008, Debbie joined the newly formed Sustainability Office, continuing her work with Waste & Recycling. Debbie created programs including the Recycling Enforcement & Education program, and developed policy to require recycling of construction and demolition waste, a well as city zoning requirements to facilitate recycling collection from new buildings.

Emphasizing Equity and Resilience

In 2013 she became the Division Director for Energy and Environment and in 2016 she was promoted to Deputy Director when the Sustainability Department became a full department. In those roles, she led programs on air quality, energy efficiency and renewable energy, open space, and food access. Debbie continues to champion efforts to improve equity, recognizing that racial justice and equity are integral to the work of sustainability and resiliency.

Debbie is embracing her new role as Director:

I am excited about applying social equity to our climate, energy, air quality, food access, and waste and recycling program and policy work. Working in sustainability has always required us to look at inefficiencies that create problems – wasted resources, pollution, climate change and social inequity. I look forward to working with the city’s community partners to implement the system-wide changes necessary to align the way we live and work with our shared values of a healthy environment and opportunity for everyone.

SLCgreen congratulates our friend and colleague on this next step. We’re excited to continue our work to find equitable and sustainable solutions for our community under her continued leadership!

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