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Posts tagged ‘air quality’

This is What the Future Looks Like

Project Open’s All-Electric Apartments Set the Stage for Eco-Friendly Affordable Living

 

Outside Project Open2

by Ryan Anderson, SLCgreen intern

If you’ve been to Salt Lake City in the winter, you know that our air quality leaves room for improvement. Our air pollution has already been found to have severe health impacts, and it’s crucial that we act now before the problem worsens.

Winters are plagued by inversions and in the summer we have a growing problem with ozone.

Both of these problems are directly tied to the emissions we put into the air. While transportation is the largest source, our homes and buildings are a close second and are projected to become the top polluter in the coming years.

With Utah’s population expected to double in the latter half of this century and a growth rate three times the national average, reducing emissions and improving our air quality has become even more pressing.

A key step in securing a healthier future for our community is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas in residential and commercial buildings, plus the transportation sector.

Luckily, there are solutions. If we design and build our structures smarter, we can reduce much of the pollution that comes from our buildings. And if these structures also incorporate green transportation features, we can significantly move the needle on both air pollution and our community carbon footprint.

That’s why we’re excited to feature a forward-thinking new housing complex that is innovating on all of these fronts.

Read more

Wildfires + Fireworks + Ozone (Oh July!)

 

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Wildfire in Federal Heights, July 6th. Courtesy of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

by Talula Pontuti, SLCgreen intern

For weeks, we have experienced wildfires across the state, primarily in the southern part of Utah, where firefighters are fighting tirelessly to protect communities and landscapes.

Those fires have not only destroyed homes, habitats, and landscapes, but the fires are contributing to poor air quality in those areas and throughout Utah.

In addition, fireworks from the Fourth of July increase particulate matter, aggravating respiratory conditions for those with preexisting respiratory and heart illnesses, such as asthma and heart disease.

Combine the fires and fireworks with ozone created by vehicle and product pollution – and we have the perfect mix for poor air quality.

Understanding what is going on and what our impacts are on air quality in our city is critical to being able to keep people healthy and having fun this summer. Read more

Summertime . . . and the Air is Nasty

By Jack Hurty, SLCgreen intern

We’re all used to winter smog here along the Wasatch Front, with brown haze moving in and obscuring the mountains. But there is another pollutant in the valley, invisible but no less dangerous — ozone.

What is Ozone?

Ozone, a molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms, is created when nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mix and are heated by the sunlight.

NOx and VOCs are typically emitted by motor vehicles, but they can come from consumer products as well as industrial sources. (Read more about how ozone forms.)

Ozone is often found in the Earth’s stratosphere, where it plays a beneficial role by protecting us from damaging rays. But when ozone sits in the atmosphere where we can breathe it in, it can be very damaging to our health.

Read more

Update on EV Fees and Banning the Plastic Bag Ban

Utah Capitol

We’re in the final two weeks of Utah’s legislative session, which means we’re in for a wild ride full of twists, turns, and surprises until 11:59 pm on March 8.

SB 136: High Fees on Electric Vehicles and Transit Overhaul

SLCgreen and the Mayor’s Office are following many of the air quality-related bills.  In particular, as we alerted you to recently, we are concerned about the high proposed registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles in SB0136 (though we support the funding mechanisms for more transit).

There have been a number of changes and attempted substitutions with this bill. Unfortunately, as of February 28, the fees for all-electric vehicles remain at $194/year. The fee structure also imposes changes for hybrid electric ($92/year) and plug-in hybrid vehicles ($124/year). Fees are going up on all vehicles. Standard gasoline vehicles will now pay $72/year.

However, the singling-out of clean vehicles is troubling. For those of us who care about clean air, the proposed EV fees are a significant set-back, especially coming the year after the state tax credit for electric vehicles was also rolled back.

Salt Lake City signed on to a coalition letter from Utah Clean Energy with other local governments and businesses opposing the fee. The bill has passed the Senate and now moves to the House. There’s still time to make your voice heard with your state representatives. Find your legislators here.

SB 218: Plastic Bags – Ban the Bans?
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Help Clear the Air! Sign up for the February Challenge

Clear

Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly 50% of the pollutants that make up our poor air quality. These pollutants become a serious concern during the winter months when normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted. This allows the air quality in the valley to become filled with particles that can quickly become unhealthy.

While there is much work being done to reduce those emissions (better transit, cleaner vehicles, more active transportation), the fact is– we can and should all help. We can each be a #CleanAirChampion.

There are many ways to participate! They all help the air and give you points in the Challenge:

  • Ride the bus or train
  • Bike or walk to work
  • Link your errands together when you are driving (aka “trip chain”)
  • Skip the trip by working from home or saving that errand for later

It all adds up!

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The Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that if every driver along the Wasatch Front were to give up driving for just one day per week, it would keep 6,500 tons of emissions (or 85 times the weight of the International Space Station) out of our airshed.

Read more

Avoid the Cold Start

We’re in the midst of a yucky inversion. At one point on Monday, the amount of particulate pollution crossed the 55.5 microgram/cubic meter threshold, which puts us in the red category of “Unhealthy” territory.

Dec 11 Air Quality

Air quality conditions and forecasts are available at http://air.utah.gov

Unfortunately, our weather patterns and geography mean we have to work extra hard to reduce what goes into the air.

One of the simplest things you can do is to leave the car at home.

Did you know that the majority of pollution comes when you simply turn your car on?

It’s the phenomenon of “Cold Starts.”

It means that 60-90% of your commute’s emissions come in the first three minutes. Pretty incredible, huh?

You can learn more about cold starts from UCAIR’s great blog post and video below.

So what can you do? Well, aim to keep your car parked as frequently as possibleeven if it’s just for a day, or a single trip you’re skipping

Cold-Starts

How to avoid the Cold Start: Read more

Green Holiday Guide

Adobe Spark (8)

SLCgreen’s “Green Holiday Guide.” It’s snow bunny approved.

 

During the holiday rush, sustainability may not be the first thing on your mind. Fortunately, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure your festivities are more eco-friendly and sustainable.

We’ve compiled these actions into a convenient Green Holiday Guide. No matter how you celebrate, we at SLCgreen hope you find this information helpful and wish you the best of times and a very happy New Year!

Christmas Trees

One great option for your home Christmas tree is a live native potted tree. When you’re done with it, plant it after the holidays or let it live on as a house plant. As an added bonus, a live tree will absorb carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen for cleaner air.

Check with your local nursery or garden center for advice on the best type of tree, depending if you are planning to replant or keep it inside.  If you can, hold off and plant it in late March or early April. This will increase the tree’s chance of surviving long term.

If you go for a cut tree, use the compost bin to dispose of it after the holidays. Make sure to cut it up so it fits in the bin and remove any tinsel or non-organic decorations (Just be sure to dispose of it before the wintertime suspension of compost bin collection, beginning the week of January 22, 2018).

If you can’t cut up your tree for the compost bin, no problem. Leave it curbside and we’ll be by during the month of January to collect it.

No matter what you do, do not burn your tree. Burning anything during the winter is horrible for our air quality (Burning during “air action” days is also against State regulation and violates Salt Lake County Health Department rules).

Energy efficiency

When stringing up lights this season, think “less is more.” For the lights you do put up, go for LED lights, which are 80-95% more efficient than traditional bulbs and will last longer. (This is a good reminder to switch out any other traditional light bulbs you may have in your home for LEDs too!)

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LED lights look great on me!

Make sure you have your lights on a timer so they only are on when you want them to be. Some LED Christmas lights are even solar powered! Read more