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Posts from the ‘Air Quality’ Category

Join the Clear the Air Challenge 2020

Are you ready for a new challenge? How about one that will help you save money, burn calories, and improve our air quality? Salt Lake City employees are already on board and want to invite you to join the 2020 Clear the Air Challenge. During the month of February, keep our air clear of pollutants by limiting your driving!

You can aim to reduce your “driving-alone” trips every day in February, or pick a goal that’s manageable for you. It all helps!

If you don’t have a team and want to challenge yourself, please join the Clear the Air Challenge SLCgreen Team!

What is the Clear the Air Challenge?

Since 2009, Utahns have been participating in the month-long Clear the Air Challenge. During February, when air quality in Utah is historically bad, participants track their trips with the goal of avoiding single-occupancy vehicle travel and reducing air pollution. Participants carpool, bike, walk, telecommute, trip chain, take public transit, drive electric vehicles, and ride electric bikes or scooters– all to help clear the air!

In 2019, participants in the Clear the Air Challenge eliminated 84,421 single-occupancy vehicle trips. This saved 1,244,624 miles of traveling and $0.4 Million! Together, all these efforts reduced 359.8 tons of CO2!

This year, the Clear the Air Challenge needs everyone’s help to reach the goal of eliminating 100,000 single-occupant trips.  

Clear the Air to Protect Our Health

Winters in Utah can be beautiful, but when inversion starts, polluted air gets caught in our valleys. PM 2.5 and other pollutants threaten our health the well-being of our communities.

On bad air days, our activity is limited. Moreover, children, older adults, and people with heart diseases or respiratory problems are at a higher risk for suffering from poorer health due to bad air. Poor air quality is associated with a range of negative impacts including pregnancy losspremature deathchild asthma, and increased cases of pneumonia.

In Salt Lake City, nearly 50% of air pollution comes from cars, trucks, and other vehicles. That’s why the Clear the Air Challenge is more important than ever.

We love it when the air is clear!

What We’re Doing

Salt Lake City Corporation employees are already signing up to do their part to Clear the Air this year (see our previous Challenge roundup).

Each participating department has its own team. Salt Lake City employees live all over the Wasatch Front. Many of us take public transit to work every day. Others carpool or bike. For the month of February, we’re doing all we can to cut back on our single occupancy car rides!

Salt Lake City departments compete with each other for the coveted Clear the Air Challenge “Mayor’s Cup” and “SLCgreen Team Spirit” award.
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Thanks to the recent public transit expansions, the robust network of bike paths for the sunny days, as well as the Clear the Air Challenge app’s handy carpool guide, the Clear the Air Challenge will make February an exciting and competitive month!

Join SLCgreen’s Clear the Air Challenge Team

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Salt Lake City Celebrates Largest Clean Tech Financing Deal in Program History

Salt Lake City is growing rapidly. Keeping up with the city’s growth in a sustainable way might feel daunting. Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency is one of the best ways to reduce pollution and curb carbon emissions as our community grows.

But those improvements can sometimes be expensive. That’s why Salt Lake City and the State of Utah recently partnered on offering a new type of financing program called C-PACE, which stands for Commercial Property Accessed Clean Energy.

In a nutshell, C-PACE helps commercial property owners obtain low-cost financing for sustainability projects including energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy. The financing structure helps existing and new developments keep up with energy efficiency goals and standards, and is becoming more and more competitive as a financing tool.

Salt Lake City joined the C-PACE financing program in 2018 as a way to help incentivize sustainable development.

And a little over one year later, we are thrilled that the largest C-PACE project in the United States – EVER – just broke ground in Salt Lake City! The Hyatt Regency will be located on the corner of 200 South and West Temple.

Sustainable Development

C-PACE will help ensure that Salt Lake City can meets its sustainability goals. Specifically, Salt Lake City aims to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2040 and shift to net-100% renewable electricity resources by 2030.

C-PACE is unique because of its low interest rates and because it allows for the collection of payment through property tax assessments that stay with the property. That means that the cost and benefits from– for example– solar panels or building efficiency upgrades stay with the property, rather than being a financial burden borne solely by the developer or the original property owner.

The 26-story Hyatt Regency Hotel across the street from the Salt Palace will have 60,000 square feet of convention space and 700 rooms. The C-PACE financing allowed developers to proceed with aggressive sustainability measures including heating and cooling systems. According to CleanFund, the hotel is projected to “exceed the energy code compliance level by over 20 percent.”

The release further stated: “The $54.7 million in Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy contribution provided by CleanFund will fund nearly every sustainable upgrade in the new hotel, demonstrating the effectiveness of the state’s new C-PACE legislation towards achieving Salt Lake City’s environmental goals. It also sets a record for the single largest amount ever financed by C-PACE nationally.”

With Salt Lake City’s booming convention industry, the Hyatt Regeny Hotel is an investment in Salt Lake City’s economy as well as sustainability. Improved energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy will reduce air pollution and achieve a lower carbon footprint for developments.

C-PACE financing helps standardize those practices.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel will open in 2022. Photo courtesy of Salt Lake City’s Economic Development Department.
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Building Resilient Cities

Air quality and curbing carbon emissions are two large concerns for Salt Lake City. C-PACE financing for buildings like the Hyatt Regency Hotel helps ensure Salt Lake City’s economic viability as well as its environmental resiliency.

With the C-PACE program in place, Salt Lake City will be able to continue to help lead the country in building cleaner, more sustainable buildings. We look forward to more investments in 2020!

We've Got the December Bad Air Blues

The view from the SLCgreen office on Dec. 4, 2019.

With a week of air that has been some of the worst in the country, it’s no wonder we’re all feeling frustrated. Salt Lake City’s current air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups and requires mandatory action of limited driving and no wood burning. For most of us, Salt Lake City’s notoriously bad air is a nuisance and health concern, limiting our activities and turning our skyline grey. Moreover, pollutants like PM 2.5 are dangerous, especially for older residents, children, pregnant women, and people with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Air quality is a public health concern, as well as an economic one.

It may come as a surprise that although transportation currently contributes nearly half of the emissions causing Salt Lake City’s bad air, buildings are catching up. Indeed, houses and buildings currently contribute roughly 38% of emissions, and industry point sources produce the other 13%. As emissions standards on cars are becoming more strict, managing emissions from houses and buildings is a growing priority.

PM 2.5 is the primary winter concern in Salt Lake City’s airshed. The particulate matter poses serious health risks and gets trapped in the Salt Lake valley during inversion. Most of the PM 2.5 is a direct result of precursor emissions from tailpipes, smokestacks, and chemicals that mix to form PM 2.5 in the atmosphere.

When you look outside, it may feel like there’s no good news. However, per capita pollution in Utah is decreasing. Salt Lake City is taking steps to help clean the air and protect our public health and environment. Find out how you can keep our airshed (and lungs!) clean and healthy.

What is SLC doing?

Reducing combustion and emissions are a key step towards cleaning the air.

Salt Lake City has many air quality initiatives in place that are helping clean the air. Among these include the continued expansion of EV infrastructure, expanding cleaner vehicles in our fleet, and implementing our energy benchmarking ordinance for nearly 1,000 commercial buildings. Additionally, the HIVE pass provides residents with access to UTA’s public transit system at a reduced cost.

Salt Lake City built the nation’s first Net Zero energy Public Safety Building.
In 2018, Salt Lake City converted five parking enforcement vehicles to all-electric Chevy Bolts. As of Oct. 2019, the Salt Lake City fleet has over 135 hybrids, 32 all-electric vehicles, 72 compressed natural gas heavy duty vehicles, and 117 clean diesel heavy duty vehicles.

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Clearing the air is easier than ever

Winter is coming. And along with it, inversion season. As temperature and pressure changes trap pollutants in the Salt Lake Valley, it is an important time to recommit to reducing our impact.

Air pollution in general is extremely costly in terms of public health and our economy. In the U.S., we spend $131 billion in air quality-related damages each year. The costs to our well-being are enormous. Bad air is linked to asthma, pneumonia, pregnancy loss, and premature death.

Luckily, expansions to our public transportation infrastructure are making it even easier to leave your car at home and help clear the air.

Idle Free sign near City and County Building

Public Transit Expansions

One way to avoid driving is to make use of public transit.

In July, Salt Lake City and the Utah Transit Authority expanded services on three essential routes, the 2, 9, and 21 bus. The expansions are critical steps towards improving air quality because they allow more riders to take advantage of the public system.

The bus route expansions are among several enhancements made possible through the Funding our Futures income (comprised of a sales tax increase, passed by the City Council, and a bond, approved by Salt Lake City voters, in 2018.)

The results are already starting to come in!

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Salt Lake City Recognizes Owners of Energy Efficient Buildings as new City Ordinance Begins Roll-out

PRESS RELEASE – September 5, 2019.

Today, Salt Lake City honored buildings with high energy performance at the annual Elevate Buildings Awards. The Department of Sustainability invited all buildings who participated in the City’s energy efficiency benchmarking program and received an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or above to the reception this afternoon attended by Mayor Biskupski.

A score of 75 indicates exceptional energy performance.

In addition, the City opened up nominations for buildings to have a particular energy project recognized. Three awards were given this afternoon:

  • Unico Properties received the Energy Management Award in recognition for their work upgrading the HVAC and damper systems in 250 Tower following a Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart Business audit.
  • City Creek Reserve received the Recommissioning Award for their work in optimizing the energy performance of the HVAC system at the Key Bank Tower.
  • The Energy Project of the Year was given to Intermountain Healthcare for a variety of upgrades, including new air handling units and LED lighting retrofit, at Primary Children’s Hospital.
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Check out our new electric vehicle page

We’re excited to announce a new electric vehicle page on slc.gov!

Electric vehicles can improve our health and our economy. That’s why electrification of our transportation system is an important focus of SLCgreen’s activities. EVs are one of the most important tools for cleaning our air, improving the health of our citizens, strengthening our economy, and reducing our carbon footprint.

Market projections show that electric vehicles sales are increasing, and will soon take over as the standard form of single-passenger travel in the U.S.

In Salt Lake City, we hope to be ahead of the curve for electric vehicle adoption, as we know how much it benefits the health of our citizens and strengthens our economy.

With support from the City Council and Mayor Biskupski, we have installed a number of SLC Corporation owned and operated charging stations throughout the city. We are also committed to cleaning up our energy grid, making EVs an even cleaner option!

We are working hard to provide comprehensive and accessible information for SLC residents on electric transportation. You may have heard our interns talking about EVs at community events, and we write about EVs on our blog a lot! However, we felt it was time to provide a one-stop-shop for EV information.

Enter slcgreen.com/ev.

Check out www.slcgreen.com/ev to see all the great information we put together on electric vehicles.

On this page, you will find our Electric Transportation Roadmap, how EVs help the environment, charging information, links to our partner organizations, and more.  We hope all our readers will understand why swift EV adoption is an important part of our initiatives after visiting our webpage.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office with questions, concerns, or comments about electrified transportation in Salt Lake City. You can find us at slcgreen@slcgov.com.

EVs are a key part of our commitment to a healthier, cleaner, and more equitable city.

Spread the word by visiting slcgreen.com/ev and sharing the link!

Electric Vehicles: Sorting through Common Myths

by Kelbe Goupil, SLCgreen EV intern

Are you skeptical about electric vehicles? If so, you’re not alone! Many people have questions and worries about driving an electric vehicle. We’ve busted some of the most common myths to ease your mind and encourage you to consider becoming an electric citizen.

Mayor Biskupski unveils new Level 2 charging stations in Salt Lake City on Earth Day, 2019.

Myth #1: I will run out of power and get stranded without a charge.

This is called “range anxiety” and is a common concern. Research shows that on average, drivers in the U.S. travel about 31 miles per day. Any EV on the market can handle well above that on a single charge. Generally speaking, the range of EVs spans 80-230+ miles.

The average EV battery range is projected to reach 300 miles as soon as 2023. The bigger the battery, the more energy it can store and the further you can go without refueling. Additionally, EV drivers do more than 80% of their charging at home!  For those that have long commutes or otherwise drive long distances frequently, a hybrid can eliminate range anxiety, and is cleaner than a gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle. Public and workplace charging are also available to help you fuel up as needed.

Check out the ChargePoint app or the charging map on slcgreen.com/ev to find charging stations near you. PlugShare.com is another resource and provides open source listing of EV stations.

Myth #2: EVs are too expensive.

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