Introducing Salt Lake City’s Air Quality Action Day Program for Employees
We had an amazing December with lots of storms and snow that filled our mountains and gave kids around the neighborhood plenty of opportunities to build snowmen.
But this week the dreaded high pressure took hold and we’re looking at several days, if not a couple of weeks, of inversions. This means that whatever we emit into the air stays there. And pollution doubles every day. Yuck!
This is the time for us all to prioritize ways to reduce our contribution to the haze.
It’s also a fitting time for Salt Lake City to launch a new air quality program.
As you’ll recall, Salt Lake City works hard to create programs, projects, and policies to improve air quality:
We passed one of the first anti-idling ordinances in the state; continue to prioritize electric vehicles for our fleet, as well as offer free charging at City-owned EV stations for the community; implemented a building benchmarking ordinance to measure and reduce emissions from our city’s largest commercial buildings; and just last month the RDA passed an aggressive new sustainability policy to significantly reduce air pollution from new building construction that receives RDA funding. (Learn more about Salt Lake City’s air quality efforts here).
We also aim to reduce emissions by implementing air-conscious internal policies with our 3,000-strong workforce.
And one of the ways we can do this is to encourage best practices within our workforce on days when the air quality is forecasted to be unhealthy.
This is the intention behind the Air Quality Action Day program which launched in December 2021 (and was debuted during our inversion this week).
We worked with our Information Management Services Department to create an auto-email to notify employees about the need to work from home or modify their commute on Mandatory Action Days, using versions of the below graphics based on the forecast.
Mandatory Action Days are days where the Utah Division of Air Quality determines the air quality as unhealthy based on average ozone and PM 2.5 concentrations. Recommended actions for employees change based on the severity of the Mandatory Action Day.
Eligible employees (those whose jobs do not require them to be in-person at a job site) are encouraged to participate.
All Mandatory Action Days for eligible Salt Lake City employees recommend:
- Remote work
- Virtual meetings
- Rescheduling in-person events
- Taking public transit, carpooling, walking, biking
- Eliminating or minimizing idling
For days when the air quality is especially bad (Red or Maroon days), additional recommendations such as limiting time outside and wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) outdoors are included.
Department Directors will receive email notifications when Mandatory Action Days are forecasted within 48 hours. Supervisors are then responsible for making clear to their employees what is expected of them on Mandatory Action Days based on their department’s typical operations. Mandatory Action Days can occur about 40 days per year– the majority of which will happen during the summer wildfire season or during winter inversions.
What can you do to join the air quality effort?
Your employer might not have a similar program, but you can take matters into your own hands!
Sign up for air quality notifications through the Division of Air Quality and seek opportunities to drive less, drive smarter, and reduce emissions at home by turning the thermostat down a couple of degrees and avoiding wood burning. (For more tips, read our Keeping the Air Clean this Winter post.)
You can also learn about what SLC is already doing for air quality on our Current Air Quality Initiatives page.
Read more about the Air Quality Action plan and view the FAQ’s on the Workforce Air Quality Action Plan webpage.
If you are a SLC Corp employee and would like to receive the air quality forecast notifications, please email email@example.com.
Thank you for joining Salt Lake City in the ongoing commitment to air quality!