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Posts from the ‘2022’ Category

How to Have a More Sustainable Fourth of July

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

The sun is shining and inviting us outside for barbecues, picnics, and other festive get-togethers.  

As the focus of our minds shifts to friends, food, and outdoor recreation, it can be easy to lose sight of sustainability and air quality. In the winter, it’s hard to forget about air quality—it’s right in front of us during inversion episodes.

However, summertime can bring a different kind of air pollution. High temperatures, bright sun, and  some holiday celebrations bring about their own slew of risks to our air quality.

Not to despair! The summer months provide the perfect opportunity to revisit our time-tested sustainable practices and learn about new ones. With that in mind, let’s learn how to celebrate a sustainable and clean Fourth of July! 

We’ll talk about air pollution, fire risk, alternative celebrations, food, and minimizing plastic waste. Read on!

Fireworks and Air Pollution

Fireworks, while a fun celebration, unfortunately, produce pollutants that contribute to poor air quality. This includes: coarse particulates (PM10) and fine particulates (PM2.5).  

The pollution can grow disturbingly high in the 12 hours immediately after Fourth of July and 24th of July celebrations—higher than we would see on all but the worst wintertime inversion days. 

High levels of particulate matter pose health risks to children, older people, and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of respiratory and lung health and how vulnerable our health can be. The particulates that fireworks release have impacts on health, including but not limited to: triggering asthma attacks, acute bronchitis flare-ups, increased vulnerability to respiratory illnesses, and even heart attacks and arrhythmias for those with heart disease. 

Fireworks Restrictions 

Of course, fireworks can also pose a wildfire risk during our persistent drought. Salt Lake County is currently categorized as a D3 – Extreme Drought Zone.  For this reason, the Salt Lake City Fire Marshall has banned the use of fireworks in certain areas of the city.  

To stay up to date with the current firework restrictions, check out the Salt Lake City Fire Department webpage containing the most recent regulations and information, including a map of areas of Salt Lake City where firework use is prohibited. Violating a “No Firework Zone” may result in a fine of $1,000 

Laser Light Shows 

Sheesh—with all the impacts of fireworks, you may wonder what else you could do to celebrate the Fourth and 24th in a way that does not create air pollution, risk wildfire, nor pose safety hazards (not to mention the stress that fireworks can cause to some veterans, pets, and young kids) 

Salt Lake City went through the same thought process. 

That’s why this July, Salt Lake City will NOT be hosting the traditional 4th of July and 24th of July fireworks shows at Jordan Park and Liberty Park.

Instead . . .  

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Mayor Mendenhall expands Air Quality Action Program for all City employees

PRESS RELEASE: June 30, 2022

As part of her commitment to improving air quality, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has expanded a program urging eligible employees citywide to telework and take other actions to reduce air pollution on mandatory air quality action days, as forecast by the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ). 

“Driving is still the number one source of pollution during both the summer and winter months when air quality is at its worst, so this is one of the most important behavioral changes we can make,” said Mayor Mendenhall. “I encourage other employers across the Wasatch Front to join us in implementing a similar program with their workforces and commend those who already do this.”

The Mayor launched the Air Quality Action Program this past winter to a smaller group of employees. With the initial pilot proving successful, beginning July 1, all City employees will now receive automatic emails when the Division of Air Quality forecasts a “mandatory action day,” meaning the concentration of air pollutants measured in Salt Lake County are predicted to reach or exceed levels of air pollution that are unhealthy for sensitive groups.   

The City’s Sustainability Department designed the program notifications and communications, while the Information Management Services Department created a custom script and email that automatically pulls the forecast from DAQ’s website and notifies employees. The City’s program is similar to one the State of Utah also implements.

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It’s Pride Month – Let’s Talk about ‘Queer Ecology’

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

Happy Pride Month! With the 2022 Pride Festival coming to a close in Salt Lake City earlier this month, SLCgreen would like to extend our celebration by discussing some of the ways that LGBTQIA+ history and sustainability go hand-in-hand!

(The term LGBTQIA+ refers to people of “all genders and sexualities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and allies. While each letter in LGBTQIA+ stands for a specific group of people, the term encompasses the entire spectrum of gender fluidity and sexual identities.”)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Sustainability, with its goals of protecting natural resources, slowing the effects of climate change, and building resilient communities, exists at the crossroads of environmental and social justice.

Sustainability work requires an intersectional lens to maintain a commitment to diversity, equity, and justice.

While it might not be obvious how LGBTQIA+ studies is related to sustainability, scholars and theorists from both queer studies and environmental studies have banded together to bring the two seemingly different fields together with the term “Queer Ecology.”

At its heart, Queer Ecology enacts a practice of intersectionality that calls us to action through an understanding that the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights is a shared struggle with desire and actions to save our planet.

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Eighteen Utah communities join the Community Renewable Energy Agency, continue working with Rocky Mountain Power to meet their net-100 percent clean energy goals

PRESS RELEASE: JUNE 10, 2022

Salt Lake City’s 1 MW Solar Farm.

As of the May 31st participation deadline, 18 cities and counties across Utah have joined the effort to launch a default net-100% renewable electricity option for Rocky Mountain Power customers in their communities.

Participating communities stretch as far south as Springdale, as far east as Castle Valley, as far north as Ogden, and as far west as Kearns. Collectively, these communities account for about 25 percent of Rocky Mountain Power’s electricity sales in the state.

The Community Renewable Energy Agency (also called the “Utah 100 Communities”) formed in response to HB 411, a 2019 bill called the Utah Community Renewable Energy Act, that created a pathway for interested communities served by Rocky Mountain Power to collaborate on creating this first-of-its kind renewable electricity program.

The Agency is currently negotiating with Rocky Mountain Power on how to design the Community Renewable Energy Program, which aspires to match 100 percent of participating customers’ annual electricity consumption with renewable generation supplied to our grid, no later than 2030.

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SLC Ranks 8th in EPA’s Top Mid-sized Cities for ENERGY STAR buildings

Salt Lake City is known for many things- hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, being the subject of several TV shows and films over the years (including an episode in the newest Stranger Things season), and poor air quality to name a few. However, we can also add ranking 8th in the EPA’s Top Mid-sized Cities with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings in the previous year, to that list!

What makes ENERGY STAR buildings so special? They’re more efficient than their peers!

Over 75% more efficient than similar buildings nationwide, in fact. Due to their efficiency, these buildings use an average of 35% less energy than typical buildings. Nearly 39,000 diverse buildings have earned the ENERGY STAR since 1999, ranging from the Empire State Building to an elementary school in the mountains of Alaska. Together, these buildings have saved more than $5 billion on energy bills and prevented nearly 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—equal to the annual emissions of more than 2.7 million homes. 

Salt Lake City boasts 26 ENERGY STAR certified buildings which prevented 31,500 metric tons of CO2 from being emitted last year! (That’s more than Utah’s other ENERGY STAR claim to fame, Provo, who placed second this year with 75 buildings. ;-p )

Unico Properties received the Salt Lake City Elevate Buildings Energy Management Award in 2019 in recognition for their work upgrading the HVAC and damper systems in the 250 Tower following a Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart Business audit.

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Connect SLC and Sustainability

Did you know that Salt Lake City is working on a new transportation master plan? Master plans are a great way to engage with your city and help make it a place YOU want to live in!

The last transportation master plan for Salt Lake City was published in 1996, over twenty years ago. In 2021, the Salt Lake City Transportation Division began Connect SLC, an extensive process to collect data, engage the public, and eventually create a new plan that better meets the needs of the city’s current residents.

Currently, the city is in Phase 2 of their civic engagement process and you can weigh in!

Phase 1 consisted of collecting values: air quality and the environment, reliability, safety, affordability, and equitable access to opportunity. With these values in mind, Phase 2 consists of expressing possible policy recommendations that the city could take and getting even more feedback from residents and user-groups!

What does this have to do with sustainability?

Everything! How we commute around the city has a major impact on the air we breathe, as well as other physical health concerns. Increasing access to safe routes for alternative transit increases the likelihood of people using it. This means fewer cars on the road, leading to lower emissions, and better air quality.

Additionally, improving accessibility to public transit makes choosing public transit more convenient, also increasing the likelihood of usage! This decreases the reliance on single-occupancy vehicles which in turn decreases emissions per person.

Data provided by the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration

The Salt Lake City Transportation Department has created an interactive website featuring policy recommendations for each value and an opportunities to provide feedback and comments.

Take this easy opportunity to provide feedback for your city!

It’s Bike Month!

At SLCgreen, we love biking for many reasons! Not only is choosing to commute with a bike better for human health, it’s also super beneficial to the environment (which also relates to our health).

This week, celebrate Bike Month by joining us on Mayor’s Bike to Work Day!

When: Wednesday, April 17th at 7:30am

Starts: Allen Park

Ends: City & County Building

Why do we love bikes?

Moving into the summer months it’s important to remember that air quality is still an issue. As we commute around the city, to work, festivals, and/or the farmer’s market, biking provides an environmentally friendly alternative to single occupancy vehicles. In the summer, pollution from cars, industry, and a multitude of chemical products, combined with high temperatures and bright sunshine, lead to harmful ozone levels.

Choosing to ride a bike is a great way to personally reduce your impact on climate change and help reduce air pollution!

International Compost Week 2022!

Did you know that last week was International Compost Week? This year’s theme is Recipe for Regeneration: Compost which means focusing “on the crucial role recycling our food scraps and yard trimmings plays by creating compost, which when added to soil results in a recipe that makes our food more nutritious, the air we breathe cleaner and our climate healthier overall.” Last week, from May 1 – May 7, we celebrated everything compost!

Composting is the most local form of recycling. By taking our food scraps and turning them into compost at our local Salt Lake Valley Landfill and then returning them to our yards and gardens to produce healthy and beautiful plants, we create a closed loop! The landfill is located at 6030 W. California Ave. (1300 S.), Salt Lake City , UT 84104 and is open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 5pm. If you have questions, you can contact the landfill at 385-468-6370.

Why Compost?

Prevents soil erosion- Composting prevents erosion by binding soil together, increasing infiltration, and slowing the surface flow of water.

Manages stormwater- Compost helps to control water flows on and through soil, thereby proving to be a capable tool for stormwater management.

Promotes healthier plant growth- Compost balances soil density, adds and retains nutrients, and discourages disease, pests and weeds.

Conserves water- Compost retains and efficiently transfers water through the soil, allowing surrounding plants to maximize water for growth. This in turn saves you money by minimizing the amount of irrigation you will have to provide to your project!

Reduces Waste- Compost is generally made from waste (food scraps, yard waste, organic byproducts, etc) that is diverted from landfill flows. This reduces the amount of waste going to landfills and it upcycles those materials into a productive, environmentally beneficial product.

Combats climate change- Composting cuts down on greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and makes ecosystems more resilient to rising temperatures. .

Reduces project management costs- Compost promotes healthy plant growth, thereby reducing mortality and subsequent replacement costs. Additionally, compost promotes drought resistance which lowers artificial irrigation costs.

Improves soil health- Compost adds nutrients and soil biota, and improves the biological, chemical and structural health of soils.

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Join Us in Celebrating Earth Day 2022!

Earth Day is coming up this Friday, April 22!

Read on for ways to get involved by volunteering, taking action, or learning what you can do to celebrate Earth Day every day!

Earth Day Events

Salt Lake City has had a wealth of Earth Day focused events going on all month. Looking for something to do before the month is over to celebrate all the cool things our planet does? Wanting to learn some ways you can help keep our Earth healthy or support those pushing for big changes? Do we have the website for you!

Check out our Earth Day 2022 website for a list of amazing events going on across the city.

This weekend, there’s an Earth Day Jordan River Clean Up with HEAL Utah; Party for the Planet events with both Tracy Aviary and Hogle Zoo (come say “Hi!” if you see us at Hogle Zoo!); or watch the Climate Change Film Tour with Utah Clean Energy and  The Nature Conservancy at the Salt Lake Film Society’s Broadway Cinema.

Can’t make it this weekend? Don’t worry, we’ve found events to last you through the rest of the month.

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Salt Lake City Hosted Region 8 Administrator KC Becker for Environmental Forum

This past week we had the pleasure of hosting the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator KC Becker and her colleague Mark Smith for a round table discussion with advocates from 14 environmental groups and agencies across the city.

The EPA provides support and research to protect and improve public and environmental health, as well as enforces and regulates environmental protections. Region 8 is made up of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montano, North Dakota and South Dakota, and 28 Tribal Nations.

KC Becker, the current Region 8 administrator, has 18 years of experience as a public servant for both federal and state organizations. Prior to being appointed as the Region 8 administrator, KC served in the Colorado State Legislature for 4 terms, spending two years as House Majority Leader and two years as the Speaker of the House – at the time, one of only seven female speakers in the United States.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together local sustainability movers and shakers to hear about their/our concerns surrounding environmental issues in Utah and how the EPA can help!

Earlier in the day, she met with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, learned about Salt Lake City’s unique environmental projects and issues, and shared EPA’s priorities.  Administrator Becker also spent some of her time in Utah meeting with the State Department of Environmental Quality.

The EPA is currently focusing on supporting initiatives it has funding for through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill- specifically looking at the redevelopment of brownfields, infrastructure improvements and upgrades, lead pipes, and cleaning up Superfund sites.

Administrator Becker spoke about the EPA’s mission to center environmental justice in all aspects of its work; building stronger relationships with environmental justice groups, community groups, and other non-governmental organizations; and ensuring that all decisions are science-based and focusing on public health outcomes.

Representatives from local groups highlighted their desire for EPA’s support or advice on issues related to air quality, the recent Inland Port developments, the health of the Great Salt Lake, water quality and access, uranium waste in southern Utah, and funding opportunities for the many goals and initiatives of the groups attending.

Overall, the meeting was invigorating and inspiring. Administrator Becker left us with much to do and the support (within her ability) of our regional EPA leaders.