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Posts from the ‘Air Quality’ Category

Paying for Poor Air: The Cost of Regional Air Pollution

By SLCgreen intern Kelbe Goupil

Air quality, air quality, air quality…will we ever stop talking about it? Until our air is consistently clean and no longer putting our health and economy at risk, probably not.

Bad air day in Salt Lake City

Talking about air pollution is important to us here at SLCgreen, not only because of how harmful it is to our health but also because of how expensive it is.

Let’s face it: bad air is damaging our economy. And not just in Utah. Air pollution in the U.S. costs the nation at least $131 billion in damages annually, including higher healthcare costs. Globally, the cost of pollution-related death, sickness, and welfare is $4.6 trillion per year, which is about 6.2% of the global economy.

Let’s talk about why that is and what can be done about it. 

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World Environment Day: What We Can Do to Combat Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution

by SLCgreen intern Linda Derhak

World Environment Day 2019

Since 1974, June 5th has been a day for global action to protect the environment. Celebrated in over 100 countries, the UN’s World Environment Day raises awareness on urgent issues such as plastic pollution, sustainable consumption, wildlife crime, and climate change. The day empowers people around the world to create change as individuals and communities. This year’s host country, China, is bringing attention to a pressing global crisis: air pollution.

Global air pollution is worsening. According to the UN, 9 out of 10 people breathe in polluted air and it causes 7 million premature deaths a year. China is leading a charge against air pollution, and countries world-wide are helping make sure people have access to clean air.

Here in Utah, we have our own struggles with air quality — mainly with seasonal issues such as PM2.5 pollution in the winter and ozone pollution in the summer. Across the Beehive State, air pollution leads to increased illness. Salt Lake City and other communities statewide are working to improve air quality and the State’s Department of Air Quality has led many efforts over the years to reduce pollution.

But more is needed.

In honor of #WorldEnviornmentDay and the goal to #BeatAirPollution, here are some easy ways we can all be part of the effort to improve indoor and outdoor air quality.

World Environment Day Air Pollution Statistics
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Salt Lake City Unveils 8 New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Mayor Jackie Biskupski “unveils” the latest electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Salt Lake City, April 22, 2019.

Salt Lake City recently unveiled the latest electric vehicle (EV) public charging infrastructure.

These stations increase the total number of City-owned public EV charging ports to 38 plus 16 at the Airport, and complement an even more robust charging network available throughout the city.

The newest Level 2 EV charging ports opened last month at three separate Salt Lake City locations: Mountain Dell Golf Course, the Regional Athletic Complex, and on-street parking on 500 South, just south of The Leonardo.

“Electrifying transportation is one of the most meaningful ways we can tackle air quality problems in the Salt Lake Valley,” said Mayor Biskupski. “The City applauds the many residents and businesses investing in electric vehicles and is pleased to offer charging opportunities for these clean air champions.”

Funding for the project was provided in part by a grant from the Utah Division of Air Quality, building off the initial installation of 28 ports in 2017.

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Salt Lake City, Utah Clean Energy and its Energy Ambassadors Launch Empower SLC

Some of the partners involved in launching Empower SLC, an energy efficiency outreach program funded with a $200,00 investment from Salt Lake City, in collaboration with Utah Clean Energy.

The Salt Lake City Sustainability Department and Utah Clean Energy have teamed up with the International Rescue Committee, Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services, and YouthCity Government to achieve a common goal: empower Salt Lake City’s west side neighborhoods with the tools to reduce pollution while saving energy and money. 

The unique partnership is the result of a $200,000 investment from Salt Lake City and was announced on April 11, 2019 with the launch of Empower SLC, a community engagement effort to help Salt Lake City residents reduce pollution and save energy on a community-wide scale. The program is being managed by long-time experts Utah Clean Energy.

“Energy efficiency is often the unsung hero of clean air and a healthy climate,” said Kevin Emerson, energy efficiency program director, Utah Clean Energy. “When you save energy at home, you reduce pollution. Now consider the possibilities when we save energy throughout our entire community.

Kevin Emerson, of Utah Clean Energy, describes the energy efficiency offerings of Empower SLC.

Small steps in energy efficiency can make a big impact on air quality and climate solutions. We are thrilled to bring this pilot program to westside Salt Lake City and make a positive impact in so many lives.”

Saving energy is something everyone can do and the Empower SLC website features a handy list of actions (PDF), with associated energy and cost savings, available to all.

However, the reality is that not everyone can access simple energy efficiency tools.

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Recent Free Fare Days Saved 5 Tons of Air Pollution

Remember when Salt Lake City partnered with Salt Lake County, Davis County, Intermountain Healthcare, and UTA to host Free Fare Days on Feb. 28 and March 1? The official UTA press release results are posted below! But first, follow Mayor Jackie Biskupski on her donut delivery quest the first day of free rides . . .

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

UTA MEDIA RELEASE

FREE FARE DAYS ON UTA SUCCESSFUL

Agency sees ridership increases throughout the system

The results from UTA’s Free Fare Days on February 28 and March 1 show a 16% increase in boardings for the entire system. Using the average weekday boardings in February 2019 as a baseline (151,933 boardings system wide) overall ridership on Thursday, February 28 jumped to 171,664 and on Friday, March 1 there was an even larger increase to 181,365 passengers.

Free Fare Days were sponsored by Salt Lake County, Intermountain Healthcare, the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office and Davis County in partnership with UTA.

“UTA is excited about the ridership increases we saw during the Free Fare Days and would like to thank the sponsors who made it possible,” said UTA Board Chairman Carlton Christensen. “We are especially pleased with the ridership increase we saw on the bus system. UTA has been focusing on increasing bus service and we wanted people to try riding the bus on the Free Fare Days. We look forward to upcoming plans to increase frequency, expand service hours and add weekend service on the bus system.”

Compared to 75,479 average weekday boardings in February 2019 bus ridership increased 10%. On Thursday February 28, 82,489 passengers rode UTA buses and on Friday March 1 the number improved to 83,818. This increase in bus ridership stands out in comparison to the previous free fare event in December 2017 when bus ridership did not increase by a noticeable margin.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said, “This is evidence people will change their patterns if cost is addressed. I’ll be working with UTA and partners to find ways to address going forward, especially during inversions.”

TRAX experienced a 14% increase during the two free fare days, with a daily average of 65,366 riders. A typical day in February saw TRAX carry 57,319 boardings. On Thursday February 28 TRAX ridership increased to 64,420 boardings and on Friday March 1 the number grew to 66,312 riders.

“Free Fare Days consistently show that when you remove burdens from transit, people take it,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “What leaders should take away from these results is that investing in transit pays off, both in terms of clearing our air and creating equity in our community.”

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New Recycling Facility Coming to Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is excited to announce that a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is coming to our city in 2020. It will process Salt Lake City’s residential recycling, along with other customers’ material from around the area.

Waste Management is currently the City’s contracted recycling vendor and processes roughly 750 tons per month of Salt Lake City recyclables at their facility in southern Salt Lake County.

This new, upgraded facility will allow the company to produce a cleaner end-product with higher value, increase diversion from the landfill, and support Salt Lake City’s overall recycling goals.

This is all the more important in an era when recycling markets are tightening; demand for cleaner material is paramount; and facilities, municipalities, and residents must adapt to new standards.

We’re also thrilled that the facility will be located in Salt Lake City limits, with the attendant economic development impacts, as well as the shorter travel times for our trucks.

See the below press release from Waste Management for more information.


Waste Management Announces Plans to Expand Recycling Operations in Salt Lake City to Better Serve the Community


Waste Management’s current Transfer Station near the airport will soon be transformed into a state-of-the art Materials Recovery Facility that will process up to 700 tons of recycled materials per day. Photo courtesy of Waste Management.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — March 6, 2019 — Waste Management of Utah has announced plans to expand and improve its Salt Lake City recycling operations with the construction of a new, larger and technically-advanced Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Building is expected to begin in the spring and the new MRF is slated to be fully operational by early 2020.

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Clear the Air by . . . Driving?

At least by driving smarter.

Hear us out: You’ve heard that a big chunk– roughly 50 percent — of Salt Lake City’s winter air pollution comes from motor vehicles.

That’s why SLCgreen promotes cleaner transportation and getting out of our cars as much as possible, particularly during February and the Clear the Air Challenge.

But, we know that taking public transit, biking, or purchasing an electric vehicle is not practical for everyone – yet! However, there are some important ways to reduce pollution even when you do drive.

We all want to take better care of our health and live in a healthy world and by planning ahead we can help our city have fewer red air days! Here’s how:

Avoid Cold Starts. Cold starts occur when we start our vehicles after they have been resting long enough for the engine to get cold.

Did you know? A majority of the air pollutants used across an entire journey are emitted in the first few minutes after you start your car.

A study from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality “found that 75 percent of combined pollutants and emissions are emitted from a car during the first three minutes after a cold start,” as described in a UCAIR’s blog post and video below.   

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