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Posts tagged ‘air quality’

Salt Lake City BIPOC-owned Westside businesses to receive funding to go solar

PRESS RELEASE: November 17, 2022

A year-long effort to create solutions for Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color- (BIPOC) owned businesses on the Westside of Salt Lake City to pursue rooftop solar and battery storage has received a significant boost thanks to a commitment from American Express.

American Express recently announced a $5 million global commitment to help cities build resiliency and fight climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference which took place in Egypt last week. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) has been awarded $1.2 million to work with three cities, including Salt Lake City, to install solar energy systems in our community.

American Express will provide $325,000 in philanthropic support to complement other incentives and financial strategies to help install solar with optional battery systems for small businesses on the Westside. These systems can lower energy costs for residents and businesses, can be more resilient than standard electric sources during extreme weather, support local clean energy jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

View of the Utah State Capital Building from 500 North.

“I’m thrilled with American Express’ generosity, which will build off the hard work our City team and partners have done to advance solar on our Westside,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We have the tools to reduce climate emissions, strengthen community resiliency, and save our businesses and residents money through clean energy, and this collaboration is a perfect demonstration of that.”

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Inversion season is here! What can we do?

November 1 is the official start of inversion season along the Wasatch Front and it certainly feels like  winter is settling in around us!

But what exactly is an inversion? This natural phenomenon occurs when a high-pressure system is setting up, trapping cold air on the valley floors with warmer air above it. This warm air also traps all our pollution with the cold air, keeping it contained in the valley until the inversion breaks. 

What causes an inversion? 

Meteorologists on the news and the Utah Division of Air Quality will  warn you in advance before an inversion happens. Here are some signs that you can keep a look out for: 

  • Calm winds: this reduces the natural mixing of air temperatures. 
  • Clear skies: this increases the rate of cooling for air close to the ground. 
  • Long nights allow the cooling of the ground to continue over a longer period of time, resulting in a greater decrease in temperature near the surface. 
  • The sun is lower on the horizon during the winter, so it supplies less warmth to the earth’s surface and more to the atmosphere. 

In Utah, our inversions often occur right after snowstorms due to the increase in cold air near the ground and the clear skies warming up the upper atmosphere and acting as a lid to the cooler air below. 

Inversions are meteorological events that are common in mountain/valley geographies with our weather patterns.  When you pair inversions with human activity, you often wind up with pollution that sticks around.  Here along the Wasatch Front, a significant source of pollution comes from transportation(roughly 50%), as well as our homes and buildings (roughly 35%). That means each of us can make a difference to our air quality. 

What can you do? 

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Salt Lake City and Santa Fe join Boulder County and the City of Flagstaff to tackle climate crisis through regional partnership

PRESS RELEASE: October 5, 2022

A trailblazing partnership of local governments will soon pool resources to fund carbon dioxide removal (CDR) projects in the Four Corners region. The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition (4CCC), established by Boulder County, Colorado and the City of Flagstaff, Arizona, today welcomed Salt Lake City, Utah and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Earlier this year, Boulder County and Flagstaff invested seed funding to launch this coalition with the goal of spurring regional CDR innovation to fight climate change. The coalition will provide catalytic funding to accelerate CDR project deployment and business development.

CDR describes diverse processes, on land and at sea, that take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and durably lock it away in geological, biological and synthetic formations for decades, centuries, or even millennia. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), cutting emissions from fossil fuels is necessary, but it’s no longer sufficient to stem the worst effects of climate change.

“We’re so excited to round out the ‘Four Corners’ vision with two cities that recognize the importance of local leadership,” said Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy. “This collaboration gives local communities the opportunity to put our fingerprints on this emerging and necessary space of carbon dioxide removal (CDR); to hold ourselves and our partners to the highest standards; to show what community-based CDR might look like and the potential benefits of supporting vetted projects in our backyards.” 

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Utah Climate Week Win: Salt Lake City’s Comprehensive Sustainability Policy Now Includes All-Electric Provisions 

What This Means and Why it is Important for our Air Quality and Climate 

It’s the Sixth Annual Utah Climate Week and we’re bringing you news and tips from around Salt Lake City.

Today, we wanted to highlight an exciting update made in 2022 to Salt Lake City’s internal Comprehensive Sustainability Policy.

This policy was originally put in place in 2017 to cover a wide range of practices affecting Salt Lake City Corporation’s internal operations, standards, and protocols across seven different policies.

Each policy addresses the rules, regulations, and sustainable practices that must be considered and/or implemented while executing City operations that fall within one of the seven following categories: air quality and climate change, chemical reduction, materials management, petroleum storage tanks, property acquisition or sale, sustainable procurement, and water.   

For example, the policy includes things as far-ranging as reducing paper waste and minimizing the use of plastic water bottles, to setting the standard when it comes to how we construct or remodel our municipal buildings.

We are practicing what we preach when it comes to sustainability!

The City’s Comprehensive Sustainability Policy was already significant in requiring that new construction or major renovation projects of City buildings over 10,000 square feet be evaluated for Net Zero Energy and be built to achieve at least LEED Gold. Salt Lake City’s Net Zero Public Safety Building and two Net Zero fire stations (FS 14 and FS 3) were constructed with these high environmental standards.

In 2022, at the urging of Mayor Mendenhall, we took the policy even further to require the evaluation of all-electric provisions for major new construction or renovation.

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Getting to Know You: Ground Level Ozone

by SLCgreen intern Emalee Carroll

As Salt Lake City residents we are well acquainted with air pollution, but do we know what’s in it? With the Clear Air Challenge happening over the summer, we at SLCgreen wanted to take some time to provide a rundown on some of the different types of air pollution in Salt Lake City, what you can do about it, and what the city is currently working on and has done to make a difference!

What is Ground Ozone? 

As we enter the thick of summer and all the fun outdoor activities that come with it, let’s break down a major summertime pollutant – ground level ozone. Ozone gas is naturally occurring in our atmosphere, helping to protect us from harmful UV radiation. However, ozone is not found naturally at ground level. Rather, the gas is known as a “secondary pollutant” meaning it’s created through a series of reactions between compounds in the air. This process is facilitated by heat and sunlight which is why ozone levels are typically higher in the summer months. 

How-ground-level-ozone-forms

How does Ozone Affect SLC residents? 

Like PM 2.5, studies have shown ozone also has adverse impacts on respiratory health. Ozone gas can reach deep into our lungs, damaging cells like a sunburn would, and trapping air in the alveoli. This process can cause coughing, throat irritation, chest pain, and congestion. Additionally, ozone can aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD, and chronic bronchitis. 

Aside from harming the health of Salt Lake residents, ozone can also negatively impact local ecology. When ground-level ozone enters the membranes of leaves, it reduces the ability of the plant to photosynthesize sunlight, slows growth, and ultimately weakens the organism. In extreme circumstances, this can lead to a loss of trees and other plants, which affects both the quality of life in urban settings, as well as the health of the overall ecosystem and animals that rely on those plants for food. 

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How to Have a More Sustainable Fourth of July

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

The sun is shining and inviting us outside for barbecues, picnics, and other festive get-togethers.  

As the focus of our minds shifts to friends, food, and outdoor recreation, it can be easy to lose sight of sustainability and air quality. In the winter, it’s hard to forget about air quality—it’s right in front of us during inversion episodes.

However, summertime can bring a different kind of air pollution. High temperatures, bright sun, and  some holiday celebrations bring about their own slew of risks to our air quality.

Not to despair! The summer months provide the perfect opportunity to revisit our time-tested sustainable practices and learn about new ones. With that in mind, let’s learn how to celebrate a sustainable and clean Fourth of July! 

We’ll talk about air pollution, fire risk, alternative celebrations, food, and minimizing plastic waste. Read on!

Fireworks and Air Pollution

Fireworks, while a fun celebration, unfortunately, produce pollutants that contribute to poor air quality. This includes: coarse particulates (PM10) and fine particulates (PM2.5).  

The pollution can grow disturbingly high in the 12 hours immediately after Fourth of July and 24th of July celebrations—higher than we would see on all but the worst wintertime inversion days. 

High levels of particulate matter pose health risks to children, older people, and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of respiratory and lung health and how vulnerable our health can be. The particulates that fireworks release have impacts on health, including but not limited to: triggering asthma attacks, acute bronchitis flare-ups, increased vulnerability to respiratory illnesses, and even heart attacks and arrhythmias for those with heart disease. 

Fireworks Restrictions 

Of course, fireworks can also pose a wildfire risk during our persistent drought. Salt Lake County is currently categorized as a D3 – Extreme Drought Zone.  For this reason, the Salt Lake City Fire Marshall has banned the use of fireworks in certain areas of the city.  

To stay up to date with the current firework restrictions, check out the Salt Lake City Fire Department webpage containing the most recent regulations and information, including a map of areas of Salt Lake City where firework use is prohibited. Violating a “No Firework Zone” may result in a fine of $1,000 

Laser Light Shows 

Sheesh—with all the impacts of fireworks, you may wonder what else you could do to celebrate the Fourth and 24th in a way that does not create air pollution, risk wildfire, nor pose safety hazards (not to mention the stress that fireworks can cause to some veterans, pets, and young kids) 

Salt Lake City went through the same thought process. 

That’s why this July, Salt Lake City will NOT be hosting the traditional 4th of July and 24th of July fireworks shows at Jordan Park and Liberty Park.

Instead . . .  

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Mayor Mendenhall expands Air Quality Action Program for all City employees

PRESS RELEASE: June 30, 2022

As part of her commitment to improving air quality, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has expanded a program urging eligible employees citywide to telework and take other actions to reduce air pollution on mandatory air quality action days, as forecast by the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ). 

“Driving is still the number one source of pollution during both the summer and winter months when air quality is at its worst, so this is one of the most important behavioral changes we can make,” said Mayor Mendenhall. “I encourage other employers across the Wasatch Front to join us in implementing a similar program with their workforces and commend those who already do this.”

The Mayor launched the Air Quality Action Program this past winter to a smaller group of employees. With the initial pilot proving successful, beginning July 1, all City employees will now receive automatic emails when the Division of Air Quality forecasts a “mandatory action day,” meaning the concentration of air pollutants measured in Salt Lake County are predicted to reach or exceed levels of air pollution that are unhealthy for sensitive groups.   

The City’s Sustainability Department designed the program notifications and communications, while the Information Management Services Department created a custom script and email that automatically pulls the forecast from DAQ’s website and notifies employees. The City’s program is similar to one the State of Utah also implements.

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It’s Bike Month!

At SLCgreen, we love biking for many reasons! Not only is choosing to commute with a bike better for human health, it’s also super beneficial to the environment (which also relates to our health).

This week, celebrate Bike Month by joining us on Mayor’s Bike to Work Day!

When: Wednesday, April 17th at 7:30am

Starts: Allen Park

Ends: City & County Building

Why do we love bikes?

Moving into the summer months it’s important to remember that air quality is still an issue. As we commute around the city, to work, festivals, and/or the farmer’s market, biking provides an environmentally friendly alternative to single occupancy vehicles. In the summer, pollution from cars, industry, and a multitude of chemical products, combined with high temperatures and bright sunshine, lead to harmful ozone levels.

Choosing to ride a bike is a great way to personally reduce your impact on climate change and help reduce air pollution!

Join Us in Celebrating Earth Day 2022!

Earth Day is coming up this Friday, April 22!

Read on for ways to get involved by volunteering, taking action, or learning what you can do to celebrate Earth Day every day!

Earth Day Events

Salt Lake City has had a wealth of Earth Day focused events going on all month. Looking for something to do before the month is over to celebrate all the cool things our planet does? Wanting to learn some ways you can help keep our Earth healthy or support those pushing for big changes? Do we have the website for you!

Check out our Earth Day 2022 website for a list of amazing events going on across the city.

This weekend, there’s an Earth Day Jordan River Clean Up with HEAL Utah; Party for the Planet events with both Tracy Aviary and Hogle Zoo (come say “Hi!” if you see us at Hogle Zoo!); or watch the Climate Change Film Tour with Utah Clean Energy and  The Nature Conservancy at the Salt Lake Film Society’s Broadway Cinema.

Can’t make it this weekend? Don’t worry, we’ve found events to last you through the rest of the month.

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Salt Lake City Hosted Region 8 Administrator KC Becker for Environmental Forum

This past week we had the pleasure of hosting the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator KC Becker and her colleague Mark Smith for a round table discussion with advocates from 14 environmental groups and agencies across the city.

The EPA provides support and research to protect and improve public and environmental health, as well as enforces and regulates environmental protections. Region 8 is made up of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montano, North Dakota and South Dakota, and 28 Tribal Nations.

KC Becker, the current Region 8 administrator, has 18 years of experience as a public servant for both federal and state organizations. Prior to being appointed as the Region 8 administrator, KC served in the Colorado State Legislature for 4 terms, spending two years as House Majority Leader and two years as the Speaker of the House – at the time, one of only seven female speakers in the United States.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together local sustainability movers and shakers to hear about their/our concerns surrounding environmental issues in Utah and how the EPA can help!

Earlier in the day, she met with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, learned about Salt Lake City’s unique environmental projects and issues, and shared EPA’s priorities.  Administrator Becker also spent some of her time in Utah meeting with the State Department of Environmental Quality.

The EPA is currently focusing on supporting initiatives it has funding for through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill- specifically looking at the redevelopment of brownfields, infrastructure improvements and upgrades, lead pipes, and cleaning up Superfund sites.

Administrator Becker spoke about the EPA’s mission to center environmental justice in all aspects of its work; building stronger relationships with environmental justice groups, community groups, and other non-governmental organizations; and ensuring that all decisions are science-based and focusing on public health outcomes.

Representatives from local groups highlighted their desire for EPA’s support or advice on issues related to air quality, the recent Inland Port developments, the health of the Great Salt Lake, water quality and access, uranium waste in southern Utah, and funding opportunities for the many goals and initiatives of the groups attending.

Overall, the meeting was invigorating and inspiring. Administrator Becker left us with much to do and the support (within her ability) of our regional EPA leaders.