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Posts from the ‘2020’ Category

Salt Lake City partners with local artists to create six original pieces for new refuse trucks

PRESS RELEASE: July 22, 2022

Large-scale public art is rolling through Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods thanks to a recent City initiative that invited local artists to use City refuse trucks as their canvases. 

The seven new waste and recycling vehicles are wrapped in vinyl prints of original works by local artists Trevor Dahl, Matt Monsoon, and Brooke Smart. 

“These works of public art will travel Salt Lake City’s streets every day, reaching every corner of the city,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “I’m thrilled these vehicles, which provide such a critical utilitarian purpose, can also spread beauty to residents in all our neighborhoods.”

The artists were chosen from the Salt Lake City Arts Council’s pool of local artists with whom the City works on a number of public arts projects, from sculptures to murals to street art and more. Each artist created two original designs.

“We take pride in our trucks—and in the graphics we put on them,” said Sophia Nicholas, Sustainability Department Deputy Director. “Each year, we brainstorm a new creative campaign and work with a graphic designer to bring it to life. It’s been a fun and effective way to spread the word about things like ditching disposables, choosing reusable bags, the importance of recycling overall, and now, sharing art by local artists.”

The City’s fleet of 37 refuse trucks collect the trash, recycling, and compost from approximately 42,000 sites every week, hauling the waste from all areas of the city to the landfill or appropriate recycling facilities. Each truck travels approximately 300 miles each week.

“We know that almost any object, place, or space has the potential to serve as a canvas for the incredibly talented artists of our city, including the sides of a refuse truck!” said Taylor Knuth, Deputy Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council. “The Arts Council hopes that residents and visitors of Salt Lake who see these trucks will not only enjoy these captivating works by local artists, but also take action to protect our unique, beautiful, and vibrant landscapes.”

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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:

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:

Have a Happy and Sustainable Holiday!

During the holiday rush, sustainability may not be the first thing on your mind. Fortunately, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure your festivities are more eco-friendly and sustainable.

No matter how you celebrate, we at SLCgreen hope you find this information helpful and wish you the best of times and a very happy New Year!

Christmas Trees

One great option for your home Christmas tree is a live native potted tree. When you’re done with it, plant it after the holidays or let it live on as a house plant. As an added bonus, a live tree will absorb carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen for cleaner air.

Check with your local nursery or garden center for advice on the best type of tree, depending if you are planning to replant or keep it inside.  If you can, hold off and plant it in late March or early April. This will increase the tree’s chance of surviving long term.

If you go for a cut tree, use your SLC curbside compost bin to dispose of it after the holidays. Make sure to cut it up so it fits in the bin and remove any tinsel or non-organic decorations (Just be sure to dispose of it before the wintertime suspension of compost bin collection, beginning the week of January 24, 2022).

If you can’t cut up your tree for the compost bin, no problem. Leave it curbside and we’ll be by during the month of January to collect it.

No matter what you do, do not burn your tree. Burning during the winter is a significant source of pollution. (Burning during No Burn Days is also against State regulation and violates Salt Lake County Health Department rules).

Energy Efficiency

When stringing up lights this season, think “less is more.” For the lights you do put up, go for LED lights, which are 80-95% more efficient than traditional bulbs and will last longer. (This is a good reminder to switch out any other traditional light bulbs you may have in your home for LEDs too!)

LED lights look great on me!

Make sure you have your lights on a timer so they only are on when you want them to be. Some LED Christmas lights are even solar powered!

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Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council is Building a More Equitable & Sustainable Food System

by SLCgreen Outreach Coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov

There are over three hundred food policy councils in the U.S., representing towns, cities, tribes, counties, and entire states. Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (FPC) is one of three in Utah, with another council in Ogden and one at the state level. Food Policy Councils unite community organizations to help guide policy related to our food systems. They inform local government on everything from food access and urban agriculture to food waste and climate concerns.

Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (formerly the Food Policy Task Force) was created in 2009. The group identifies policy and program opportunities and makes recommendation for how to create a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient community food system. Their first project was a sustainable code revision, which made it easier to keep chickens, bees, and grow food in Salt Lake. The FPC has supported the Sustainability Department on a variety of other initiatives over the last decade, including the SLC FruitShare program, the curbside composting program, the Square Kitchen Culinary Incubator, the Local Food Microgrant Fund, and much more. Fourteen members representing various sectors of the food system make up the FPC, from small farmers, to anti-hunger organizations, advocates for immigrant and refugee communities, and representatives of the public health sector.

This year, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future launched an initiative to help food policy councils around the country confront systemic racism and inequities in their local food systems. Fifteen councils from fifteen different states were selected to participate, including the Salt Lake City FPC! The initiative will help Salt Lake City as our FPC takes its next steps to build a more equitable food system.

Food, Equity, and Sustainability

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Salt Lake City Recognizes Business Leadership in Energy Efficiency

Image of  a trolley car parked in an outside urban space with written text in a blue banner below that reads "Elevate Buildings Congratulates Trolley Square Ventures: 2020 Energy Project of the Year."

January 28, 2021


SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability is pleased to announce Trolley Square Ventures has won the 2020 Energy Project of the Year as part of the City’s annual Elevate Buildings Award

The Elevate Buildings Awards is the Sustainability Department’s public recognition campaign honoring organizations that have gone above and beyond to reduce their emissions through innovative programs and efficiency upgrades. One of the key priorities of Mayor Mendenhall’s administration is to lead the way on environmental resilience and sustainability and improving the impact that our buildings have on air quality is a major part of the City’s environmental goals. 

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2020 Year In Review

Happy New Year!

2021 is here! SLCgreen is excited to move forward. But as we prepare for the year to come, we’re also ready to incorporate what we’ve learned from 2020.

At the beginning of 2020, SLCgreen was eagerly preparing for a new administration and planning for a year of innovative sustainability projects. After a busy 2019 we were ready to take the next steps towards bringing net-100% renewable energy to our community. A new state-of-the-art recycling facility was near completion. And an innovative resident-led food equity program was convening to help improve food access in Salt Lake City. 

The challenges of the past year have been harrowing. Within the first months of 2020, Salt Lake City pivoted our work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We experienced an earthquake that damaged our homes and businesses. Hurricane-force winds toppled thousands of trees and left many members of our communities without power for several days.  

Despite it all, SLCgreen was able to accomplish many of our goals with the help of our dedicated crews and community members. The challenges our community faced in 2020 laid bare the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and  climate action. The year required us take more direct actions to improve our emergency response plans, to better support the voices of residents who have been excluded in the past, and to expand our communications to facilitate more collaborative work.  

SLCgreen is ready to build off of what we learned during the past year, but before we set our sights on 2021, here are a few highlights from 2020. 

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Catch Up With Utah Recycling Alliance

Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

Is going zero waste one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2021? Utah Recycling Alliance is here to help!  Utah Recycling Alliance (URA) has been encouraging Utahns to recycle more and reduce waste since 2011. The non-profit promotes reuse, recycling, and resource conservation through programs developed to engage and educate residents statewide.

This year, like many organizations, URA has moved much of their programming online due to the pandemic. However, they have stayed busy, and the organization is gearing up for exciting new projects in 2021. 

SLCgreen chatted with URA co-presidents David Johnston and Sarah Bateman to find out more about what URA has been up to in 2020. David and Sarah also filled us in on how you can get involved in building a zero waste future in the New Year!

The 3 R’s and Beyond

David, who is also the Permits Coordinator for SLCgreen’s Waste and Recycling Division, told us that URA started with a mission that went beyond recycling. “Although we’ve always been there to help Utahns around the state recycle in the right ways, many of what we now consider core programs are all about the other Rs” – including reduce, reuse, repair, and rot.  

Sarah, who is the founder of the City of Orem’s Natural Resources Stewardship Committee and a full-time mom, joined URA because of her passion for encouraging zero waste in Utah County. Prior to joining URA, she “felt somewhat alone in advocating a low-waste lifestyle.” However, URA connected Sarah to other zero waste organizers who were just as passionate about waste reduction and conservation. Sarah says that she is “honored to work alongside this well-educated and skilled team of volunteers, dedicated to reducing waste in Utah.”

The organization relies on volunteer support to operate their diverse projects, which connect businesses, individuals, and local governments that are committed to zero waste efforts.

CHaRMs and Fix-It Clinics

In the past few years, URA has helped Salt Lake City residents divert unusual waste (including toothpaste tubes, old electronics, shredded paper, and other things that aren’t accepted in the City’s curbside recycling program) in the CHaRM events.

The acronym stands for Collection of Hard to Recycle Materials, and the events help divert a considerable amount of waste each year. David notes that “in 2019 alone, with the help of more than 40 additional volunteers, URA was able to divert almost 5,000 lbs. from the landfill, accepting material for recycling from more than 1,100 attendees.”

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Happy Holidays from SLCgreen

Dear Friends,

SLCgreen is wishing you a healthy and happy holiday! During this time of year, we’ve been reflecting on the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced as a community brought on by the pandemic, hurricane-force windstorm and earthquake. This year, we’ve worked alongside our community members to continue essential City operations and services and step up efforts to help those who have been impacted the most by the devastating pandemic. More than ever before, we are witnessing the evidence of an undeniable connection between environmental justice and social equity. 

SLCgreen’s mission is to protect our natural resources, reduce pollution, slow climate change, and establish a path toward greater resiliency and vitality for all aspects of our community. Our environmental work goes hand in hand with the efforts to improve equity in Salt Lake City. 

Food access, renewable energy, and clean air initiatives continue to be critical aspects of our department’s work because they are intrinsically tied to equity. Recognizing that members of our community most impacted by decades of systemic racism and oppression also bear the brunt of environmental issues, SLCgreen will continue to prioritize environmental justice and equity for our community. Read on for some ways you can help, and information about community resources.

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