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Posts tagged ‘air pollution’

U Drive Electric Extended through November 30th

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Our winter time inversion season is here, but this year Utah will have more clean, electric cars on the road that are helping to improve our air quality through the U Drive Electric program. The University of Utah’s U Drive Electric program has facilitated the sale of 92 electric and plug-in-hybrid cars in the last six weeks. Due to the popularity of the program, U Drive Electric has been extended through Nov. 30, 2016. The program is offered through a collaboration between the university, Salt Lake City and Utah Clean Energy.

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Salt Lake City Partners with Utilities to Improve Building Energy Efficiency

Last Friday, Salt Lake City was recognized by The White House and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for its efforts to unlock access to energy data for building owners and improve energy efficiency.

Since 2013, Salt Lake City has partnered with both Rocky Mountain Power and Questar to provide whole-building energy data access to building owners through the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Tool. The effort, which is on track for completion in 2017, will ensure effortless energy data management for building owners, providing a complete picture as to building energy use and enabling them to employ more responsive strategies.

“Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain Power and Questar are working together to help building owners understand how their building is operating and to identify opportunities to improve energy management,” says Vicki Bennett, sustainability director for Salt Lake City. “By automating and streamlining the process, more Salt Lake City building owners will be able to improve energy efficiency – ultimately saving energy, money and emissions.”

Salt Lake City is committed to improving air quality, and buildings play an important role in emissions. The most recent data from the Utah Division of Air Quality show that 39% of existing air pollution comes from area sources (i.e. homes and businesses). This percentage is expected to increase significantly over the next 20 years as vehicles become more efficient, making building energy efficiency efforts more and more important.

Last week, Mayor Jackie Biskupski extended an invitation to leading industry experts to share their ideas and best practices for energy efficiency in buildings, as part of the Elevate Buildings process.

“There is nothing more important than the air we breathe, and working to clear our skies is a top priority of my administration,” says Mayor Biskupksi. “By collaborating with industry experts we will help improve air quality through increased energy efficiency our city’s largest buildings.”

Learn more about Salt Lake City’s efforts to cut energy waste in buildings at SLCgov.com/ProjectSkyline.

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The University of Utah Explores Society, Water and Climate

The Utah College of Social and Behavioral Science hosted an intriguing breakfast presentation last Friday at the Red Butte Garden Classroom on the topics of Society, Water, and Climate.

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Drs. Rick Forster and Andrea Brunelle. Photo credit: Annette Barrett, University of Utah.

Drs. Rick Forster, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Social and Behavioral Science, and Andrea Brunelle, Geography Chair, presented on the University of Utah’s new interdisciplinary faculty cluster, an effort to focus research and use a multifaceted approach to addressing challenges related to society, water, and climate. The new faculty cluster includes an ecohydrologist, an air quality scientist and a glaciologist. The addition of a social or behavioral scientist is forthcoming. “This transformative cluster connects research on hydrology, air quality, climate change, societal response, and policy, seeking to meld multiple scientific perspectives to lead society towards sustainable water solutions in a changing world.” (Society, Water, and Climate)

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Dr. Rick Forster and Tyler Poulson, SLCgreen Photo credit: Annette Barrett, University of Utah.

Drs. Rick Forster and Andrea Brunelle also shared experiences and some great photos from their own field-based research.  Dr. Forster studies glaciers and seasonal snow cover response to climate change. He showed some incredible footage of dripping water, despite air temperatures well below freezing, found when ice cores were lifted to the surface at a research site in Greenland.  The water had come from a perennial aquifer under Greenland’s Ice Sheet.

“Climate change will bring increased temperatures combined with likely increases in the severity, frequency, and duration of weather extremes, such as droughts and floods. Changes in water availability due to climate change will be further complicated by use of water for agriculture, changes in land use, and population growth. In many regions of the world, issues centered on climate change and water availability will profoundly shape society in the next century. Addressing these issues requires a focused, transdisciplinary effort from scientists with expertise in society, water and climate.” (The Theoretical Framework of the Society, Water and Climate Research Cluster)

This collaborative approach is an important piece in finding sustainable solutions to issues of society, water, and climate in the future.

Mayor Becker Discusses Air Quality, Energy and Water

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Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker talks with P3 Utah in a recent podcast.

“Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah,  visits with Steve Klass of P3 Utah about his work developing a world class livable city. Mayor Becker explains his accomplishments in terms of focus on air quality, setting net zero energy efficiency standards for buildings and watershed and recreation protection as part of the recently adopted Mountain Accord.

He explains the roles of local government, state and federal government in carrying out sustainability initiatives.  He explains the challenges he is leading the City to meet in continuing progress and expresses a desire for greater public engagement.  He says that there are trade-offs and learning at a community level necessary to live differently in order to truly make our metropolitan area more sustainable and adapt successfully to climate change. Listen and be inspired!”

Listen to the podcast here.

Trailblazers of Clean Energy Speaker Series

Trailblazers Invitation_Short Version FinalThis fall, Utah Clean Energy and the University of Utah’s Sustainability Office are hosting a first-of-its kind lecture series featuring three climate change innovators. Hear these national experts speak about their outside-the-box approaches to combat climate change and shape a positive future for the world.
Race car driver and Sundance film star, Leilani Münter, will kick off the series on September 22nd at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. When you think race car driving, you usually don’t think environmental activist – unless it’s Leilani Münter.  Learn how this fearless female NASCAR driver wants to bring 75 million racing fans over to the “green side.”  Her motto is “Live is short. Race hard. Live green.”

The award-winning national director of Green For All, Vien Truong, will speak on October 21st. Truong is one of the nation’s foremost experts fighting for climate justice in low-income communities. Hear from Troung on how we can safeguard the most vulnerable from the worst impacts of climate change.

Bestselling author of Green Sense for Your Home and founder of organicARCHITECT, Eric Corey Freed, will speak on November 5th.  Freed promotes both an organic and ecological approach to design and is considered a pioneer in the tradition of Organic Architecture.

Sign up for this three part lecture series on innovative solutions to our world’s most pressing challenges.  Tickets are $5 per event and free for University of Utah students (registration required).

Mayor Becker Signals Support for Stronger Clean Air Protections

 

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SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker released a letter signed by more than 50 U.S. mayors from around the country signaling support for President Obama setting the strongest possible clean air protections against smog pollution, also known as ground-level ozone.

“Poor air quality is one of the most significant threats to our quality of life here in Salt Lake City,” said Mayor Becker. “Stronger smog protections will help our families breathe easier and spend more time outdoors, without having to worry about the quality of the air we breathe.”

According to the American Lung Association, inhaling smog pollution is like getting a sunburn on your lungs and often results in immediate breathing trouble. Long term exposure to smog pollution is linked to chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, reproductive and developmental harm, and even premature death. Children, seniors, and people with asthma are especially vulnerable to smog’s health impacts.

Salt Lake City is taking action to reduce its impact on air quality by increasing electric vehicle infrastructure, reducing fleet tailpipe emissions and replacing two-stroke maintenance equipment with more efficient models. Explore all of the actions Salt Lake City is taking to reduce air pollution at www.SLCgreen.com.

The letter was signed by a diverse coalition of local leaders and supports efforts by President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stay true to the science and issue protections consistent with the recommendations from leading public health organizations like the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Health Association.

Media Contact:

Kate Lilja Lohnes
Communications Manager
Salt Lake City, Division of Sustainability
(801) 535-7755

 

President Announces Clean Power Plan

Today President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan rule.  The Clean Power Plan, proposed by Environmental Protection Agency, is a plan to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants. This plan will maintain an affordable, reliable energy system, while cutting pollution and protecting our health and environment. There were previously no national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, which account for forty percent of U.S. carbon emissions and are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. These EPA-proposed standards are the first-ever national limits on this type of pollution. Nationwide, the Clean Power Plan will help cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels. (1)  According to a recent survey by Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, “A large majority of Americans support setting strict emission limits on coal-fired power plants.” (2)

Mayor Becker gave the following remarks:

 “I applaud President Obama and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for announcing the Clean Power Plan today. The Plan is a forward-looking and common sense policy to address one of the most critical issues facing local communities: climate change.

Like many other cities across the Nation, Salt Lake City is actively working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for contributing to climate change. In particular, Salt Lake City continues to be a  leader through many initiatives, including increasing energy efficiency of our existing municipal facilities, requiring all new municipal facilities to achieve “net zero” status, and promoting and investing in clean distributed solar energy. These investments not only cut pollution, and save money on our energy bills, but they make Salt Lake City an energy-smart and more livable city.

Over the coming days and weeks, I look forward to learning about the full scope and the long-term benefits that the Clean Power Plan will have on our communities.”

In addition to his work with the City, Mayor Becker is serving as the president of the National League of Cities, which advocates on behalf of over 19,000 member cities, villages, and towns from across the country. Mayor Becker has asked the National League of Cities to act as “an army of advocates” to encourage better climate change policy and work with the administration to assist state, local, and tribal work on this critical issue. #ActOnClimate.

Sources:

  1. Environmental Protection Agency, http://www2.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan, July 31, 2015.
  2. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, http://environment.yale.edu/poe/v2014/?&est=CO2limits, August 3, 2015.