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Posts tagged ‘elevate buildings’

It’s Really Hot Out Here, So Let’s Go Plant Some Trees

Mayor Erin Mendenhall planting a tree in 2021 as part of her 1,000 Trees Initiative.

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After the intense heat experienced by many of us this summer you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this past July was Salt Lake City’s warmest one yet and the heat wave is continuing with us as September begins.

But did you know that Salt Lake County’s summer days are abnormally hotter than those in nearby rural areas? Our culprit is referred to as the urban heat island. 

What is the Urban Heat Island? 

Urban heat islands occur as the built environment of a city attracts heat and prevents it from being released by covering up naturally absorbing sources. For example, grass absorbs heat but covering it with concrete for a sidewalk that attracts warmth will make the city hotter. Researchers have found that the cumulative effect of all these heat-attracting sources results in cities being up to 17 degrees hotter than surrounding areas! Research conducted by the University of Utah used temperature monitors throughout the valley to measure our urban heat index. This research discovered that our parks with grass and shade are two degrees cooler than nearby residential neighborhoods.  

The benefits that shady parks and park strips provide in reducing the urban heat island are just one of the reasons that Salt Lake City places an emphasis on maintaining them. The important role tree cover plays in reducing heat is evident when looking at the images of Salt Lake City below. The map on the left shows the Urban Heat Island Effect by noting how much hotter it can be in that area. The darker the red the hotter it is. The map on the right shows the percentage of tree cover canopy in the entire neighborhood. The darker the green, the more canopy cover in the neighborhood. When comparing the two images it becomes evident that when there are more trees, the urban heat index is lower.  

Additionally, the image below provides another useful visual to understand what the Urban Heat Island Effect looks like in Salt Lake City. The image, taken from satellite by NASA, shows 300 West to the Wasatch Foothills. The image, taken on a hot summer day, demonstrates the Urban Heat Island Effect in action. Orange, red, and yellow indicate hot areas and blue and green illustrate the cool areas. With this in mind, it becomes clear that areas with less vegetation are the hottest. For example, Liberty Park, which is near the bottom left-hand corner, is very blue on the map indicating that it’s cool. 

How can you reduce heat and contribution to the urban heat island? 

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SLC Ranks 8th in EPA’s Top Mid-sized Cities for ENERGY STAR buildings

Salt Lake City is known for many things- hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, being the subject of several TV shows and films over the years (including an episode in the newest Stranger Things season), and poor air quality to name a few. However, we can also add ranking 8th in the EPA’s Top Mid-sized Cities with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings in the previous year, to that list!

What makes ENERGY STAR buildings so special? They’re more efficient than their peers!

Over 75% more efficient than similar buildings nationwide, in fact. Due to their efficiency, these buildings use an average of 35% less energy than typical buildings. Nearly 39,000 diverse buildings have earned the ENERGY STAR since 1999, ranging from the Empire State Building to an elementary school in the mountains of Alaska. Together, these buildings have saved more than $5 billion on energy bills and prevented nearly 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—equal to the annual emissions of more than 2.7 million homes. 

Salt Lake City boasts 26 ENERGY STAR certified buildings which prevented 31,500 metric tons of CO2 from being emitted last year! (That’s more than Utah’s other ENERGY STAR claim to fame, Provo, who placed second this year with 75 buildings. ;-p )

Unico Properties received the Salt Lake City Elevate Buildings Energy Management Award in 2019 in recognition for their work upgrading the HVAC and damper systems in the 250 Tower following a Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart Business audit.

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Salt Lake City RDA Passes Aggressive Air Pollution Reduction Policy for new RDA-funded Buildings!

Exciting news! Yesterday the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) passed a new sustainability policy that is one of the most significant in the country when it comes to reducing air pollution and climate emissions!

As of December 14th, 
new buildings funded by the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) will be more energy efficient, all-electric, and climate friendly in accordance with its Sustainable Development Policy adopted by the RDA Board of Directors.

The RDA works to update Salt Lake City’s infrastructure in order to foster vibrant communities and neighborhoods as well as stimulate economic growth. 

With the new Sustainability Policy, RDA-funded buildings will need to meet three new requirements:

1. Projects must achieve a federal ENERGY STAR score of 90 or higher. ENERGY STAR scores range from 1-100. A score of 90 indicates that the building scores higher than 90% of its peers based on criteria related to Property Type, Property Use Details, and Energy Data. These metrics are evaluated on a case-by-case basis depending on the building type. 

2. Buildings must operate without on-site fossil fuel combustion. This means that no propane or natural gas can be utilized in building operations. Fossil fuels such as these produce large amounts of carbon dioxide and other harmful products that worsen air quality and trap heat in the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. Rather than fossil fuels, buildings will operate using electricity for heat, and sourcing that from more sustainable alternatives such as solar electricity. 

3.  Projects need to participate in Salt Lake City’s energy benchmarking program, Elevate Buildings. SLCgreen’s Elevate Buildings program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality by requiring commercial buildings above 25,000 sq ft to benchmark and report energy usage. 

The policy also outlines additional net zero guidelines for projects utilizing specific RDA financing programs.

Read the press release that went out today to learn more!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 15, 2021

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Redevelopment Agency Moves Needle on Mayor Mendenhall’s Air Quality Goals with New Sustainable Development Policy

Update will spur RDA-funded projects to incorporate sustainable building practices and technologies that reduce building-related climate emissions and local air pollution

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Salt Lake City Recognizes Business Leadership in Energy Efficiency

Image of  a trolley car parked in an outside urban space with written text in a blue banner below that reads "Elevate Buildings Congratulates Trolley Square Ventures: 2020 Energy Project of the Year."

January 28, 2021

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability is pleased to announce Trolley Square Ventures has won the 2020 Energy Project of the Year as part of the City’s annual Elevate Buildings Award

The Elevate Buildings Awards is the Sustainability Department’s public recognition campaign honoring organizations that have gone above and beyond to reduce their emissions through innovative programs and efficiency upgrades. One of the key priorities of Mayor Mendenhall’s administration is to lead the way on environmental resilience and sustainability and improving the impact that our buildings have on air quality is a major part of the City’s environmental goals. 

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We've Got the December Bad Air Blues

The view from the SLCgreen office on Dec. 4, 2019.

With a week of air that has been some of the worst in the country, it’s no wonder we’re all feeling frustrated. Salt Lake City’s current air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups and requires mandatory action of limited driving and no wood burning. For most of us, Salt Lake City’s notoriously bad air is a nuisance and health concern, limiting our activities and turning our skyline grey. Moreover, pollutants like PM 2.5 are dangerous, especially for older residents, children, pregnant women, and people with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Air quality is a public health concern, as well as an economic one.

It may come as a surprise that although transportation currently contributes nearly half of the emissions causing Salt Lake City’s bad air, buildings are catching up. Indeed, houses and buildings currently contribute roughly 38% of emissions, and industry point sources produce the other 13%. As emissions standards on cars are becoming more strict, managing emissions from houses and buildings is a growing priority.

PM 2.5 is the primary winter concern in Salt Lake City’s airshed. The particulate matter poses serious health risks and gets trapped in the Salt Lake valley during inversion. Most of the PM 2.5 is a direct result of precursor emissions from tailpipes, smokestacks, and chemicals that mix to form PM 2.5 in the atmosphere.

When you look outside, it may feel like there’s no good news. However, per capita pollution in Utah is decreasing. Salt Lake City is taking steps to help clean the air and protect our public health and environment. Find out how you can keep our airshed (and lungs!) clean and healthy.

What is SLC doing?

Reducing combustion and emissions are a key step towards cleaning the air.

Salt Lake City has many air quality initiatives in place that are helping clean the air. Among these include the continued expansion of EV infrastructure, expanding cleaner vehicles in our fleet, and implementing our energy benchmarking ordinance for nearly 1,000 commercial buildings. Additionally, the HIVE pass provides residents with access to UTA’s public transit system at a reduced cost.

Salt Lake City built the nation’s first Net Zero energy Public Safety Building.
In 2018, Salt Lake City converted five parking enforcement vehicles to all-electric Chevy Bolts. As of Oct. 2019, the Salt Lake City fleet has over 135 hybrids, 32 all-electric vehicles, 72 compressed natural gas heavy duty vehicles, and 117 clean diesel heavy duty vehicles.

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Salt Lake City Recognizes Owners of Energy Efficient Buildings as new City Ordinance Begins Roll-out

PRESS RELEASE – September 5, 2019.

Today, Salt Lake City honored buildings with high energy performance at the annual Elevate Buildings Awards. The Department of Sustainability invited all buildings who participated in the City’s energy efficiency benchmarking program and received an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or above to the reception this afternoon attended by Mayor Biskupski.

A score of 75 indicates exceptional energy performance.

In addition, the City opened up nominations for buildings to have a particular energy project recognized. Three awards were given this afternoon:

  • Unico Properties received the Energy Management Award in recognition for their work upgrading the HVAC and damper systems in 250 Tower following a Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart Business audit.
  • City Creek Reserve received the Recommissioning Award for their work in optimizing the energy performance of the HVAC system at the Key Bank Tower.
  • The Energy Project of the Year was given to Intermountain Healthcare for a variety of upgrades, including new air handling units and LED lighting retrofit, at Primary Children’s Hospital.
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Salt Lake City Recognizes Business Leadership in Enhancing Energy Efficiency, Reducing Pollution

Elevate Buildings Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 11, 2018

Salt Lake City’s Department of Sustainability is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Elevate Buildings Awards, highlighting organizations that have taken action to enhance the energy performance of their buildings. Improved efficiency reduces local air pollution, as well as overall greenhouse gas emissions, making it an important component of the capital city’s work to achieve its Climate Positive goals.

“Area sources, including buildings, are having a significant and growing impact on our airshed,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “But they also have a critical role to play in being part of the solution. The organizations we are highlighting this year through the Elevate Buildings Awards are all examples of community leadership in ‘walking the walk’ to improve air quality year round.”

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 30 percent of the average commercial building’s energy consumption is wasted through inefficient building operation. That makes energy efficiency the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to improving air quality and reducing Salt Lake City’s community carbon footprint—a goal made all the more important by the recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report showing the urgency of reducing emissions from all sources. Read more

Salt Lake City Passes Ordinance to Reduce Air Pollution from Buildings by Improving Energy Use

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2017

Buildings SLC

Salt Lake City buildings. photo by Peter Nelson

At their August 29, 2017 Public Hearing, the Salt Lake City Council passed an ordinance proposed by Mayor Jackie Biskupski and the Sustainability Department aimed at cutting energy costs, improving local air quality, and reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

With one dissenting vote, the Council approved the “Energy Benchmarking & Transparency Ordinance,” which is projected to save local buildings owners $15.8 million in annual energy costs and eliminate over 29 tons of criteria pollutants from Salt Lake City’s air each year.

The market-based ordinance works by phasing-in new requirements for buildings over 25,000 square feet to “benchmark” or measure their energy usage annually.

“This ordinance has been in the works for over a year,” said Mayor Biskupski. “Over that time, it’s been a case study in collaborative policy making and I want to thank all the stakeholders involved. I’m proud that we ended up with a policy that will help clear the air, save building owners’ money, improve transparency, and reduce Salt Lake City’s carbon footprint.” Read more

Nerdy Energy Science Saves SLC Money and Pollution

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Salt Lake City’s Public Safety Building is the first Net Zero facility of its kind in the country. Even so, energy benchmarking and tune-ups helped us realize even more dollar and emissions savings.

Did you know that our buildings, homes, and small businesses contribute over a third of the pollution that obscures the valley during the winter?

Also known as “area sources,” this sector is the second-largest source of emissions and is forecasted to become the largest one in the coming years (as cars continually get cleaner due to federal regulations).

This is why everything we can do to reduce emissions from our homes and buildings can make a difference to our environment and public health.  It’s also why the City is focused on educating residents and businesses about the crucial role of efficiency to our airshed and to our carbon footprint. To this end, we provide guides for home improvements, including details on thermostat controls, home insulation and efficient appliances to help move residential buildings toward a cleaner energy future.

Our skyline’s largest buildings also have a role to play. While there is no “silver bullet” for wiping away all of Salt Lake City’s air pollution problems, the city’s commercial buildings can help simply by measuring their energy usage and making efficiency improvements where feasible. Read more

Mayor Biskupski’s State of the City Sustainability Highlights

We’ve accomplished a lot in the last year! From a Cooperation Statement with our electric utility, to a new community garden, to a  mobile farm stand, to the announcement of ambitious climate goals, Salt Lake City has made great strides in 2016. Read on for Sustainability highlights from the Mayor’s State of the City. 

mayors-state-of-city-2017

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