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Posts tagged ‘climate’

Intermountain Sustainability Summit March 24 &25

The Intermountain Sustainability Summit returns to Weber State University March 24th and 25th, 2016.  The summit offers over a dozen sessions and in depth workshops addressing climate, water, recycling, clean energy and more. Join sustainability professionals, civic leaders, businesses, nonprofits, educators, students and community members to learn, network, and develop strategies for implementing sustainability across Utah and the Intermountain West.

The summit kicks off with a conference day, Thursday, March 24th.  The keynote speaker will be Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor of GreenBiz Group Inc.  Makower has been a leading voice on business, the environment and the bottom line for the past 25 years. In 2014 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Institute of Sustainability Professionals. He will be joined by over 40 speakers throughout the conference to inspire, inform, and show how businesses, policy makers, nonprofits, and community members are making a difference. SLCgreen’s Tyler Poulson will be presenting on strategies for engaging employees on climate change to encourage grassroots, participatory leadership within an organization. For additional speaker information, visit the webpage.

Workshops will be held on Friday, March 25th.  Workshops include:

  • Community Zero Waste Road Map
  • LEED Green Associate Workshop
  • Smart Cycling

Looking to be involved and grow your business, nonprofit or idea?  See the SponsorExhibitor, or Poster page to be a part of the Summit.  Register by March 15th for early bird pricing.  Visit the Intermountain Sustainability Summit webpage for more information!  We hope to see you there!

Solving Climate Change with Clean Energy: A Special Event on Thursday, February 4

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Tackling climate change requires fresh perspectives, diverse collaborations and a profound transition to cleaner energy sources.

Join us on Thursday, February 4th to explore these themes and what they mean for Utah. We’ll be joined by two prominent local leaders, Sarah Wright and Matt Pacenza, who will share their insights on clean energy and climate solutions.

We’ll start the evening with a 60-minute screening of Episode 6 of the Emmy-award winning series Years of Living Dangerously. This will be followed by a 30-minute panel with our local experts. Episode 6 of the series focuses on methane leaks from natural gas operations, lobbying forces in America and home-grown renewable energy solutions.

RSVP to the Facebook event!

Watch the trailer:

Speaker Bios

Sarah Wright is the founder and Executive Director of Utah Clean Energy, a non-profit partnering to build the new clean energy economy in Utah for the past 15 years. She leads a team that collaborates with government, private sector and other community partners to stop energy waste while simultaneously building a smarter energy future.

Sarah is an intervener in regulatory proceedings and an expert witness in legislative hearings, testifying in support of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Sarah has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from Bradley University and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Utah.

Matt Pacenza joined HEAL Utah five years ago and began serving as Executive Director in 2015. HEAL is a non-profit that promotes renewable energy and advocates for enhanced public health while opposing toxic harms to the environment.

Matt has managed HEAL’s policy agenda on nuclear waste, energy and clean air issues and now leads the organization’s staff, program and budgets. Matt has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Policy from Cornell University and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from New York University. From the east coast, he now happily calls “Sugarhood” his home.

Consider Creating an Emergency Air Quality Implementation Plan

Are you prepared

Be prepared for poor air quality in Salt Lake City, create an Action Plan!

Breathe Utah has a great Emergency Air Quality Implementation Plan toolkit to help you create your own action plan for bad air days.  Enacting a plan can help reduce the number of red air days and improve our community’s health.  Utahns are known for emergency preparedness, so why not have an emergency air quality plan in place?

  • Know in advance when the air quality will be unhealthy;
  • Plan how to avoid or reduce driving on those days to lessen the health impacts of air pollution on our community;
    • Take public transit, carpool, telecommute, trip-chain, walk or bike!
  • Test the plan in advance to work out any problems before the red or yellow air days are upon us;
  • Share with others that you have made this plan to inspire them to create their own; and,
  • Finally, act on your plan, because now you will have a plan in place and will know exactly what to do when the air quality deteriorates.

Thanks Breathe Utah!  Visit their website for more details.

SLCgreen Director Vicki Bennett Appointed New Urban Sustainability Directors Network Co-Chair

USDN logoThe Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) has announced their new Planning Committee co-chairs, Michael Armstrong from Portland, Oregon and Vicki Bennett from Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City Green is proud to have Vicki at the helm, serving as Sustainability Director for Salt Lake City and working closely with Mayor Ralph Becker.

USDN is a network of sustainability directors from cities and counties across the United States who collaborate on a variety of issues facing urban areas. USDN’s ultimate goal is to build and strengthen the connections between members in order to quickly access each other’s knowledge and expertise to achieve better, more effective outcomes at scale. The connections fostered by USDN have become increasingly important as cities both large and small lead the way in developing the next generation of sustainable communities.

The Planning Committee serves as USDN’s governing body, with responsibility to advance the strategic direction of the network. Members are fortunate to be supported by a managing director and staff who provide high-level leadership and day-to-day management. Each year, USDN leaders, members, and staff collaborate on a Strategic Plan to guide the network for the year. An external edition of the 2015 plan can be downloaded here.

USDN accomplishes its goal by focusing on three core objectives:

  1. Offering members peer-to-peer Networking Opportunities
  2. Creating solutions that scale through a funded Collaborative Innovation System
  3. Expanding access and addressing specific issues through Regional Networks

Vicki Bennett (Salt Lake City) has worked as the Sustainability Director for Salt Lake City for 14 years, where she works with both city agencies and the public to create a more livable and sustainable community. Vicki has over 25 years of experience in government, industry and consulting with an emphasis in sustainability, climate, environmental management, and energy issues. She has been on the cutting edge of several national efforts, including the White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

Vicki was a founding USDN member, joining the network in early 2009, and has “seen [the] organization grow and adapt as the field of sustainability has been developed.” In addition to her work on the Planning Committee, Vicki has led USDN’s Climate Change Preparedness User Group for several years, one of the network’s most popular groups, co-founded the Western Adaptation Alliance Regional Network, and serves on the USDN External Relations Committee.

Climate Week: Local Climate Action Receives National Attention

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Under Mayor Ralph Becker’s leadership, Salt Lake City has taken a proactive approach to climate preparedness and resilience. Learn more about the City’s accomplishments and goals on SLCgreen.com.

And that local action has been receiving some national attention! Recently, the White House and U.S. Department of Energy designated Salt Lake City as a Climate Action Champion community. A total of 16 U.S. communities were recognized as inaugural Climate Action Champions.

In March, Mayor Becker was invited to contribute to the White House Blog, touting the progress made right here in Salt Lake City as a national example of success. View “Local Climate Action Takes Center Stage at the National League of Cities Conference.

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Climate Week: Understanding the Local Impacts of Climate Change

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Dr. Robert Davies with the Utah Climate Center discusses the science of global climate change in his compelling 30 minute presentation, “Earth’s Changing Climate”.  The presentation focuses on the physical phenomenon, our understanding based on observation and measurement. Here are a few highlights:

While Earth’s climate does change naturally, the changes we’re seeing today are unique in Earth’s climate history.  The Earth is warming and not as part of a natural cycle. Why?

Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide are increasing in the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels at an ever accelerating rate. As a result, energy is trapped, raising the Earth’s temperature.

Specifically in Utah, temperatures have been rising at about twice the global average over the past 40 years.

The rise in temperatures significantly impacts natural systems, which directly affect human systems. What lies ahead? Catastrophic climate disruption is probable.

The answer, however, is yet to be determined and lies in the choices we make.

Watch the full presentation here. If you want to skip ahead to Utah-specific information, start watching at 14 minutes 30 seconds.

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Climate Week: What SLC is Doing to Combat Climate Change

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Salt Lake City has been recognized as a Climate Action Champion for showing leadership on climate change. The accomplishments of Salt Lake City in the past seven years demonstrate a commitment and successful track record of innovation and leadership to integrate the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhance climate resilience into local and regional planning and decision-making.

Here are some of the City’s climate actions, goals, and key initiatives:

Joint Resolution To Reduce Carbon Footprint. Mayor Ralph Becker and the Salt Lake City Council signed a joint resolution in 2008 committing the City to reduce its municipal carbon footprint 20% below the 2005 level by 2020; 50% below the 2005 level by 2040; and, 80% below the 2005 level by 2050.

Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The City completed its first community GHG inventory in 2009, which quantified 4.75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions – or 26 metric tons per person – and prompted the City’s commitment to eliminate 1.3 million metric tons of CO2e by 2020. The City also has a goal for reduction of GHG emissions in the community by 80% below the 2005 level by 2050.

Clear the Air Challenge. The City created the Clear the Air Challenge to engage citizens in voluntary reductions in vehicle miles traveled, resulting in the elimination of over 9.5 million single-occupant vehicle miles traveled and reducing more than 7.5 million pounds of GHG emissions between 2009 and 2014.

Salt Lake City Sustainable Code Revision. The Salt Lake City Sustainable Code Revision project is a ground-breaking initiative to incorporate sustainability provisions into zoning and subdivision ordinances.

Salt Lake City Energy and Transportation Sustainability Plan. The Salt Lake City Energy and Transportation Sustainability Plan (2011) details strategies for the City to contribute to climate resilience, cleaner air, greater energy security, a green energy economy, and protection of our water supply, wildlife, and other natural resources. Salt Lake City Energy and Transportation Sustainability Plan goals include:

  • Decrease total building energy use in the city by 5%, to 35 million MBTUs by 2015
  • Transform all City government buildings into net-zero facilities
  • Increase renewable energy generation on City facilities to 2.5 megawatt by 2015
  • Generation of 10 megawatts of solar energy in the community by 2015
  • Reduction of vehicle miles traveled by residents by 6.5% by 2015

Salt Lake City Public Safety Building. The City’s $125 million Public Safety Building is the first public safety building in the nation constructed to achieve Net Zero energy use due to the use of multiple innovative energy efficiencies and solar-photovoltaic (PV) technologies.

Livability in Salt Lake City 2012-2016. Mayor Becker published his agenda, Livability in Salt Lake City 2012-2016, to frame a broad vision of local climate response goals, strategies, and actions that lead to greater resiliency, vitality, accessibility, sustainability, and diversity further distilled in the Sustainable Salt Lake Plan 2015.

Sustainable Salt Lake – Plan 2015. The Sustainable Salt Lake – Plan 2015 (Plan 2015) grounds the City’s broad and ambitious climate response strategy with goals, key metrics, and milestones related to air quality, energy, transportation, water resources, urban forestry, and open space. Sustainable City Dashboard. The Sustainable City Dashboard is an innovative new online tool to track key metrics and milestones associated with the Plan 2015 and promote an increased level of public engagement and feedback on climate response initiatives.

To learn more about Salt Lake City’s climate actions, visit SLCgreen.com!

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).