We’re in the middle of Climate Week in Utah! Our events have been a great success so far and we are looking forward to the rest of the week’s activities.
Today we want to focus on what you can do to combat climate change. Of course, national and international policies make a huge difference in how many emissions global society ultimately cuts in the coming years.
But each of us can also play a role. Here’s how:
Calculate your carbon footprint
Measure your impact with this comprehensive carbon footprint calculator for individuals and households. It will show you how your consumption habits compare to national and global averages and give you suggestions on how to offset your carbon footprint. SLCgreen also has a handy list of household actions you can take to reduce your impact.
Knowledge is power
Misinformation on climate change is all-too-prevalent. Be informed. Check multiple sources focusing on articles which cite and list scientific studies. Here is a sample of some reputable sites, documentaries, and books:
Walk the talk
Transportation plays a big role in our carbon footprint. The western states have all been working to install more electric vehicle infrastructure, making it a viable and increasingly affordable option for Utahns. Consider an EV next time you are purchasing a car.
Don’t discount the big impact that walking, taking public transit (HIVE passes are great for this), or riding a Greenbike can have on your carbon footprint!
With all of the storms, hurricanes, and wildfires hitting our country this fall, we need to take the opportunity of September being Emergency Preparedness Month to prepare for and mitigate climate change.
Read the op-ed published in The Salt Lake Tribune from Salt Lake City’s directors of Sustainability and Emergency Preparedness.
By Vicki Bennett and Cory Lyman
September is Emergency Preparedness Month.
While Utahns traditionally take important measures to prepare for sudden natural disasters such as earthquakes, we also need to think about taking mitigating action for climate-related events such as extreme flooding, changing water supplies, wildfire and heat waves.
This need is amplified by the awful pictures we see of Hurricane Harvey and Irma and the destruction they have wrought. In Texas alone initial estimates are putting the damage at over $180 billion – that is billion, with a “b” – and we can’t start to comprehend numbers like that.
Scientists have been warning us for years that a warming climate increases the strength of storms like these — larger, powerful and devastating to our communities.
One month before Harvey hit, Salt Lake City experienced our own 200-year storm. .
CONTINUE ON THE TRIBUNE’S SITE.
September 14, 2017: Mayor Biskupski announces the completion of rooftop solar installations on seven city buildings, totaling 756 panels and 320,000 kW/year.
On Thursday at Fire Station 10, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Fire Chief Karl Lieb and Tyler Poulson from the Sustainability Department discussed the City’s recent investment in solar power on seven separate municipal facilities, including five fire stations.
This latest round of installations doubles the total number of Salt Lake City municipal sites with solar energy to 14 separate facilities. When combined with the City’s recent enrollment in the Rocky Mountain Power Subscriber Solar Program, the total amount of renewable energy projects equals roughly 12 percent of annual electricity needs for City government facilities.
The locations receiving solar installations thus far in 2017 include Fire Station 1, Fire Station 4, Fire Station 7, Fire Station 10, Fire Station 13, Regional Athletic Complex and Pioneer Police Precinct. In total, 756 solar panels were added and they will provide between 17 percent and 92 percent of onsite annual electricity needs, depending on the facility. Read more
Salt Lake City’s 1 MW solar farm.
Solar panels on the Public Safety Building
On Monday, the Governor’s Office of Energy Development issued news that a significant agreement had been reached between parties previously at odds over how to move forward with rooftop solar development in Utah.
The main point of contention was how to compensate rooftop solar owners for the excess electricity they sell back to the utility. In November 2016, Rocky Mountain Power proposed a change in their rate structure that could make it more difficult for homeowners to afford solar panels.
Because Salt Lake City is committed to advancing clean energy and supports the growth in rooftop solar, we opposed the proposed changes to the rate structure. In other states, notably Nevada, where similar changes have taken effect, the solar industry has imploded.
At about the same time, the Governor’s Office of Energy Development stepped in, outside of the formal Public Service Commission process, to try and broker an agreement on this thorny issue. Read more
by Terra Pace
In Salt Lake City, we’re proud to offer curbside compost collection for residents. That means those brown bins can take more than just leaves and twigs– they can take your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds.
However, food waste is still a big problem. In the U.S. nearly 40% of the nation’s food supply is thrown out, and according to the EPA, 20% of what goes to municipal landfills is food waste.
While compost operations can handle raw fruit and vegetable scraps, a missing piece of the food waste puzzle– particularly for large operations– is what to do with prepared products. This includes cooked foods, packaged foods, meat, cheese, and leftovers from someone’s dinner plate.
Enter Wasatch Resource Recovery.
Slated for operation in fall of 2018, the company will open an “anaerobic digester” that will be able to turn organic waste– including fats, oils, and grease– into sustainable resources –– biogas and bio-based fertilizer. This project, which will help to greatly reduce the amount of food going to our landfill, will also generate energy.
by Brooke Taylor
As our readers know, one of SLCgreen’s core goals is to help you adopt tips and practices to make your life more sustainable. Whether that’s reducing your contribution to air pollution, learning how to eat more local food, or understanding what to recycle, all of us have a role to play in making Salt Lake City a more sustainable place to live.
That goes for our own operations as well. One of the major areas of focus for SLCgreen (as the City’s Sustainability Department is known) is helping SLC Corporation adopt best practices when it comes to those same sustainability measures we ask of our community.
That’s why we’re delighted to share with you some elements of our new internal Sustainability Policy, signed in January 2017 by Mayor Biskupski.
This policy affects Salt Lake City’s approximately 3,000 government employees, the community as a whole, our vendors, and the supply chains emanating from those vendors. By vowing to practice the best sustainable methods in all operations from prohibiting Styrofoam cups in break rooms, to carefully tracking our buildings’ energy usage, SLC is setting a community standard—a green standard.
We’d like to note that many of the guidelines in the Sustainability Policy were already in effect through various executive orders and policies, but this is the first time the best practices have been consolidated and turned into a comprehensive document.
If you’d like to read the whole policy, you can find it here.
Otherwise, read on for highlights . . . Read more
by Maggie McCormick
The 12-month program promoting sustainability education and action for city employees, Empower SLC, has come to an end. After 12 themes and nearly 50 weekly topics, we hope the lessons learned will help SLC Corp employees adopt more sustainable practices into their everyday lives.
Empower SLC, which began in April 2016, was designed as a training platform by Sustain3 and implemented by the Sustainability Department for Salt Lake City’s nearly 3,000 employees. Our goal was to encourage sustainable practices amongst city staff. Each month, employees participated in monthly themes, such as waste reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, and clean air transportation, and completed weekly lessons and activities.