Salt Lake City Corporation has been using renewable energy to support government operations since 2005, when the Public Utilities Department started turning methane into energy at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Since then, the City has steadily added to its renewable energy profile. By installing solar panels on over a dozen city facilities, becoming the largest subscriber to Rocky Mountain Power’s Subscribe Solar program, and establishing the Salt Lake City Solar Farm, Salt Lake City is able to source roughly 14% of its municipal electricity from renewable energy sources. Although 14% is certainly an accomplishment, it does not fulfill the City’s ambitious goals of achieving 50% renewable electricity for municipal operations by 2020 and 100% by 2030. After taking small steps towards these goals for so many years, Salt Lake City is finally ready to run.
On October 18th in Tooele County, the City commemorated its largest renewable energy procurement ever with the official groundbreaking of the 80 Megawatt solar farm known as the Elektron Solar Project.
Elektron Solar Project Will Take Salt Lake City to 50% Municipal Renewable Electricity Goal
With this extraordinary project, Salt Lake City will reach and likely exceed its 50% renewable energy goal for municipal electricity. When the solar farm is up and running in 2023, it will power between 50 and 90% of the City’s municipal electricity consumption. Because electricity generation is responsible for over 50% of Salt Lake City’s municipal GHG emissions, the Electron Project will greatly reduce city emissions, helping to achieve the City’s emission reduction goals and improve air quality.
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.
September 26th to October 2nd marks the 5th annual Utah Climate Week! In Utah, we’ve experienced extreme heat, drought, and smoke from nearby wildfires all summer. Climate Week is an opportunity to work with local leaders to identify the impacts of climate change locally, and collaborate on solutions to ensure an equitable and resilient future for all Utahns.
Climate Week is organized by the Utah Climate Action Network, consists of local governments, non-profits, faith based organizations, businesses, and individuals who are working to build a more sustainable community. Each year, Climate Week gives us a chance to connect with each other and find solutions to the threat of climate change.
We need everyone’s help to Act on Climate in Utah and around the globe. There are many ways to take action, including investing in solar panels at your home, reducing your meat consumption, being mindful about energy use around the house, and finding ways to improve air quality like taking public transit or biking rather than driving.
Whether you’re a seasoned environmental advocate or you’re just starting out, Utah Climate Week is a chance to learn about the unique issues Utah faces as human caused climate change impacts our health, access to food, livelihoods, and communities. Participating in Utah Climate Week can help you find ways to Act On Climate all year.
With this year’s drought, growing water-wise, pollinator-friendly yards is more important than ever. Whether you’re investing in water conservation landscaping or working on maintaining the vitality of your lawn after our extreme summer, going pesticide free can help keep your yard – and community – healthy and flourishing.
Pesticides can pose health risks, especially for children, pregnant women, and older populations. Many pesticides are also linked to declines in bird and pollinator populations. Eliminating the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers is a great step towards protecting our community from harmful chemicals.
Establishing a healthy organic yard may require a little extra work up front, and fall is the perfect time to get started!
We’ve gathered some of our best tips and resources to help you restore soil health in your yard and eliminate pesticides in your lawn care. Check it out!
Salt Lake City is proud to support Wasatch Community Gardens’ work to grow the City’s robust collection of community gardens. Last month, Salt Lake City and Wasatch Community Gardens (WCG) celebrated the opening of the newest addition: the Richmond Park Community Garden.
Green City Growers
Over the years, Salt Lake City has partnered with WCG through the Green City Growers program to help coordinate the use of city-owned or managed land for community garden plots. The plots are managed by WCG and help Salt Lake City residents build a more robust and sustainable food system.
This summer was full of many changes for SLCgreen. With Debbie Lyons stepping into the role of Director of Sustainability, and the expansion of our programming, SLCgreen had a few important openings to fill. We’re excited to welcome 2 new members of the SLCgreen team, and to celebrate longtime SLCgreen Communications Manager Sophia Nicholas in her new role as Deputy Director!
The New Faces at SLCgreen
In early July, Bimini Horstmann joined the Sustainability Department as our Special Projects Assistant. Bimini recently finished degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology from Davidson College in North Carolina. An avid rock climber, Bimini was excited to make the move back to Salt Lake City and work with SLCgreen’s team on projects including environmental compliance, climate change, air quality, energy, transportation, waste reduction, and food policy initiatives. The Special Projects Assistant plays a key role in supporting the policy and administrative work of our office, helping ensure that SLCgreen achieves our ambitious energy and climate goals.
This year, SLCgreen is also welcoming Catherine Wyffels to the newly created role of Environmental and Air Quality Program Manager. This position will focus on environmental management, reviewing environmental site assessments, and managing SLCgreen’s air quality programs and initiatives. Catherine is joining SLCgreen after 7 years as an environmental engineer with the Utah Division of Air Quality. We are so excited to have Catherine in this role, which will directly impact our community by ensuring that our building and community spaces are healthy and that our air quality continues to improve.
by SLCgreen outreach coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov
As part of SLCgreen’s goal to reach zero waste by 2040, Salt Lake City signed on to a new initiative, the U.S. Plastics Pact. The Plastics Pact affirms SLCgreen’s commitment to a circular economy for plastics, which envisions that all the plastics used by our community will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable, so that they stay in the economy and out of the environment.
What is the U.S. Plastics Pact?
The U.S. Plastics Pact brings together government entities, businesses, nonprofits, research institutions, and other stakeholders in a common vision of a circular economy for plastics (check out the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiativefor more information!). Having a diverse group of organizations sign the pact ensures that the problem of plastics can be tackled at every level where issues arise, collectively.
This vision aims to ensure that plastics never become waste by eliminating the plastics we don’t need, innovating to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulating all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.
By joining the U.S. Plastics Pact, activators agree to deliver the following four targets:
Target 1: Define a list of packaging that is to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025
Target 2: 100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025
Target 3: Undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging by 2025
Target 4: By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%
Signing the pact is part of Salt Lake City’s Zero Waste Resolution, in which the city adopted “Zero Waste as a guiding principle for all city operations and for outreach and actions within the community” and set the ambitious goal of eliminating waste by 2040. The Climate Positive 2040 plan, which followed the resolution, provided a roadmap to reaching zero waste. The City’s goal is to reach 50% diversion rate in the next several years, with a 70% diversion goal by 2025.
What are we doing to get there?
Salt Lake already has a number of innovative programs in addition to our curbside recycling program to ensure we meet our ambitious goals.
Our Waste & Recycling Division is actively researching ways to recycle the few plastics we currently can’t process
If going zero waste is one of your long-term goals, Utah Recycling Alliance offers resources including pop-up CHaRM events, and fix-it clinics. And although Plastic Free July has already passed this year, you can apply the same plastic free tips to implement the circular economy on a smaller scale in your own household.
Check out the full guide to what you can recycle in Salt Lake City’s curbside program here (don’t forget, you can recycle plastic bags and films and many grocery stores) and remember, reducing and reusing are the first two steps to zero waste, before you even start recycling! As the last step on that chain, containers you put into your SLC bins are recycled in North America and turned into new plastic products, keeping them in use.
This summer, SLCgreen’s Debbie Lyons stepped into the role of Sustainability Department Director after the retirement of our long-time director Vicki Bennett. We are thrilled that Debbie will oversee the City’s goals to achieve 100% community renewable energy, reduce emissions connected to climate change, conserve resources, reduce air pollution, and improve community access to fresh, healthy food. Join us in celebrating Debbie’s new role with a look back at how her career has shaped Salt Lake City’s innovative programs and initiatives for over 25 years!
Prioritizing Safety and Sustainability
After earning a degree in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety from BYU, Debbie started her work with Salt Lake City in 1995 as an intern with the Public Services Department. During her time as an intern, Debbie was instrumental in developing elements of Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling program that continue to have significant impacts, including the first City-wide curbside recycling and compost programs, the expansion of glass recycling around the state, and the City & County Building’s first office paper recycling program.
Salt Lake City Announces Enhancements to Call 2 Haul Bulk Waste Collection Program
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City today announced several key enhancements to its bulk waste program Call 2 Haul.
Effective immediately, the new enhancements include:
The addition of a second pick up annually for green waste only. Residents will be able to schedule two collections per year—one for bulky items such as old furniture and appliances, and one for yard waste up to 24 inches in diameter.
In addition to large branches, brush and bushes will now be accepted. These should be cut to five feet in length or less. Residents may also continue to request extra brown compost containers for temporary placement at no extra charge.
Neighborhood group scheduling. Up to 20 households can now schedule a neighborhood cleanup event for either bulky items or green waste.
“We’re excited to provide greater convenience and enhanced service to our residents with these changes to Call 2 Haul,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “We heard from our residents who wanted an option to organize collection events with their neighbors. We also heard that they wanted easier ways to dispose of green waste. These changes will help meet those needs, while maintaining our commitment to waste diversion and protecting neighborhoods from dumping.”
Newly Created Community Renewable Energy Agency Achieves Milestones
July 22, 2021
SALT LAKE CITY — Two significant milestones were achieved this month as Utah seeks to transition its electricity mix to cleaner sources and move some cities toward net-100% renewable energy.
Fourteen local governments have now joined the Community Renewable Energy Agency, a brand-new cooperative agency formed under state law in 2019 to achieve net-100% renewable electricity on behalf of participating communities.
“We’re transforming the future to 100% clean electricity with the Community Renewable Energy Program,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “And we’re working in partnership not only with Rocky Mountain Power, but with a group of dedicated local governments to make it happen. I’m thrilled with the achievement of the creation of the agency and look forward to working with our partners to develop significant new renewable energy resources for our state.”
Also this month, the agency’s board held its first regular meeting. The board plans to hire expert consultants, establish working committees, and meet monthly to support the development of a new Community Renewable Energy Program with Utah’s largest electric utility, Rocky Mountain Power.