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SLCgreen director touts city’s efforts toward sustainability, meets with President Obama during Utah visit (FOX13 Story)

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SLCgreen Director Vicki Bennett was recently profiled by FOX 13 News during President’s Obama’s visit to Utah. Click on the screenshot above to view the video. Here is the transcript:

SALT LAKE CITY — Vicki Bennett has been with Salt Lake City for 14 years, and she said this city in particular has been on the forefront of sustainability.

The word sustainability can mean different things to different people, but for Bennett and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s administration, it comes down a pretty basic concept.

She said: “How do we ensure we keep Salt Lake City the best we can, for now and for our children? We want people to want to continue to want to live here, we want a healthy environment.”

During Becker’s nearly two terms, Bennett has helped lead the mayor’s sustainability team by developing solar energy projects, reducing carbon emissions and encouraging local business owners to meet air quality and energy targets by evaluating their building’s energy use, setting energy-saving goals, and conducting energy-saving improvement projects.

“And what’s so exciting is that Salt Lake’s sustainability program, if you talk to our peers, is considered one of the top 10 in the nation, for a small city,” Bennett said.

Those efforts have also been noticed by leaders in Washington D.C.

Mayor Becker and President Barack Obama share a similar vision regarding sustainability, and it has helped them forge a strong, working relationship. Bennett said that in turn helps the effort back in Salt Lake City.

“He’s been able to get us a voice in the White House,” she said. “Because of that, we’ve been able to get funding for grants that a lot of cities aren’t even invited to apply for.”

Bennett knows there will soon be a new mayor but said she believes Salt Lake City’s advances in walkable housing, transportation, solar power and recycling are here to stay.

“We always have to be improving our environment, we always have to be ensuring we have healthy air to breathe, that we have water quality and water quantity for our residents,” she said.

Bennett was able to briefly meet President Obama Thursday night during his visit to Utah, and she said the honor gave everyone on their staff a renewed sense of determination to move forward with sustainability efforts.

Full story, including video, available at FOX13Now.com.

Mayor Becker Addresses Blueprint for a Better Future

On Tuesday, Mayor Becker joined Governor Herbert and other community leaders for a special Sundance event at The Leonardo. Blueprint for a Better Future: Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Energy was hosted by The Diplomatic Courier Magazine and Hinckley Institute of Politics, and explored how climate change and climate action is impacting the future of our cities.

Mayor Ralph Becker took the stage to share how Salt Lake City is proactively addressing the city’s future by taking climate change and climate adaptation into account today.

“The effects of climate change are real and impose a serious threat globally, and to our own community,” said Mayor Becker. “Salt Lake City is aggressively preparing for future climate challenges, to be a resilient community with a high quality of life due to our climate preparedness activities. Our efforts will ensure future clean and sufficient water supplies, investment in renewable, clean energy systems, and alternative transportation systems.”

The Mayor highlighted how these investments will not only make Salt Lake City more resilient, but that they will also improve community health through better air quality and a more walkable community. He also said that while Salt Lake City has been fortunate to have access to clean and reliable water from the Wasatch Mountains, the most profound climate risk our community faces is the loss of and degradation of our water supplies. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the most important strategy to reduce climate impacts to our water supplies.

What Salt Lake City is Doing

Salt Lake City has been measuring our greenhouse gas emissions since 2002, and now can tell every department and division their emissions by source, so they can implement specific reduction strategies.

New buildings are reviewed to determine if they can be built to a “net-zero” standard. Our new Public Safety Building has met that goal.

Fleet vehicles are constantly being right-sized, eliminated or replaced with alternative fuel vehicles. Electric charging stations are being installed across the city.

The City is beginning a Climate Leadership Academy for employees to help enhance the City’s capacity for addressing climate change. Employees from all departments will attend monthly meetings for a year to learn about climate issues and opportunities, personally and professionally. This, and other training opportunities, will ensure that every city employee understands how they can make a difference.

The City has been fortunate to receive Federal support on our climate planning efforts, partnering with Western Water Assessment, part of the NOAA Regional Integrated Science Assessment Program, to conduct climate vulnerability work. This partnership has leveraged our access to actionable data and tools to support climate adaptation decision-making, especially within our water utility.

Due to these aggressive efforts, Salt Lake City has been designated by the White House as a Climate Action Champion.

Citywide & Regional Climate Action

Salt Lake City is launching a metro-regional climate planning group that will look at mitigation and adaptation efforts on a broader, regional basis in a collaborative way.

Other efforts include a Transit Master Plan, Complete Streets Ordinance, protected bike lanes, streetcars and the Mountain Accord planning process.

“Applying the true economic costs of future climate risks will be essential as we make future decisions. One example of this is our work with the State of Utah and regional energy providers to evaluate appropriate costs and account for benefits of renewable energy,” Mayor Becker said. “We need to consider long-term economic, environmental and societal benefits of these investments, not simply short-term decisions that often undervalue climate resilient strategies.”

Moving Forward

Salt Lake City understands that addressing climate change impacts is essential as part of our efforts to achieves our goals to be a livable city. And when we address climate change, we also address air quality, facilitate mobility choices, ensure a safe and abundant water supply, create more walkable neighborhoods and establish a vibrant downtown.

Learn more about our efforts at SLCgreen.com.

SLCgreen Highlights from 2014

Happy New Year! It’s been a busy year for the Salt Lake City Green team, and we look forward to an exciting 2015 with your ongoing support. Since we’re in a reflective mood, take a look at some of our highlights from 2014.

Climate Task Force

We started the year with Mayor Ralph Becker’s appointment to the White House’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Both Mayor Becker and Sustainability Director Vicki Bennett attended a series of round tables throughout the year, which culminated in the presentation of recommendations to the President in Washington D.C.

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Project Skyline

In May, Salt Lake City hosted EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for a historic visit. In addition to a round table discussion with key partners, Administrator McCarthy joined Mayor Becker to kick off Project Skyline and the Mayor’s Skyline Challenge, a new initiative to curb energy waste from our city’s commercial buildings. SLCgov.com/ProjectSkyline

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SmartTrips Sugar House

During the summer, we kicked off a new year of SmartTrips in the Sugar House/S-Line neighborhood. The program focused on encouraging residents to walk, bike and take public transit to reduce their vehicle trips and impact on air quality. It was a great success! Over 500 households participated, increasing their alternative transit trips by 46% during the height of the program. SmartTripsSLC.com

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SLC Goes Solar

In June, we flipped the switch on Salt Lake City’s new solar farm. The farm produces 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually for our net zero Public Safety Building. We also celebrated two other important solar projects at the event, rooftop installations on the Public Safety Building and Plaza 349. Over 4,000 solar panels were installed on the three project sites, which will generate 1.7 million kilowatt-hours annually. SLCgreenBlog.com

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Popperton Plots Community Garden

In August we celebrated the successful opening and dedication of the Popperton Plots Community Garden in the Avenues. Popperton is one of the first community gardens to open on a parcel of city-owned land, made available through an expanded Green City Growers program. Popperton was also the receipient of a Partners for Places grant to support their development. It was a wonderful harvest celebration and an important milestone! More plots are available for development: SLCgreenblog.com

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Sustainable Business Leadership Award

In November, Sustainability Director Vicki Bennett was recognized by Utah Business Magazine with a Sustainable Leadership Award, and the whole SLCgreen team was there to help her celebrate! Vicki has led Salt Lake City’s award-winning Salt Lake City Green program for 13 years, spearheading initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and divert waste from the landfill. Congratulations, Vicki! SLCgreenblog.com

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White House Recognizes Salt Lake City as Climate Action Champion

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Earlier today, the White House and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognized Salt Lake City as a Climate Action Champion for showing leadership on climate change. A total of 16 U.S. communities were recognized as inaugural Climate Action Champions.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as a one of the top U.S. communities leading out on climate change and climate action,” said Mayor Ralph Becker. “Over the past seven years, we have focused on developing a comprehensive portfolio of programs and policies that will cut carbon pollution and increase community resiliency in the face of our changing climate.”

In response to recommendations presented by the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, of which Mayor Becker was an integral member, the White House launched the Climate Action Champions competition earlier this fall to identify and recognize local climate leaders and to provide targeted Federal support to help those communities further raise their ambitions.

Salt Lake City was recognized for the development of a comprehensive and well-integrated portfolio of programs and policies, including renewable energy, transportation, code revisions, water systems and building policies as priorities. The City established a joint resolution to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 50 percent below 2020 levels by 2040. Learn more about Salt Lake City’s commitment to climate action at http://dashboard.slcgov.com.

In addition to being designated as the first cohort of Climate Action Champions, the selected communities will benefit from facilitated peer-to-peer learning and mentorship and targeted support from a range of Federal programs. A coordinator will be provided to each Climate Action Champion to foster coordination and communicate across the Federal agencies, national organizations, and foundations in support of the Champions. The coordinator will also assist efforts to raise awareness of funding and technical assistance opportunities that are available specifically for Climate Action Champions.

More information on the first cohort of Climate Action Champions is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/03/fact-sheet-16-us-communities-recognized-climate-action-champions-leaders.

Local Businesses to Host Mayor Becker for Four ‘Meet Up with the Mayor’ Visits on Saturday

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Mayor Ralph Becker invites residents to join him on Saturday, Oct. 4 for a visit and chat at any of the four great local businesses he’ll be visiting for his “Meet Up with the Mayor” stops.

Ralph wants to hear from residents about anything that’s on their minds and will be joined by Community Council leaders from the different neighborhoods he’s visiting. Have a question about a current City project? Want to bend Ralph’s ear on a concern? Or talk Ute football.

Mayor Becker will be hosted by a great sample of beloved Salt Lake City businesses including Bruges Waffles & Fries in Sugar House, Harmon’s Emigration Market in Yalecrest, Hatch Family Chocolates in the Avenues and Publik Coffee Roasters in the Ball Park District.

Stop by one of these great locations Saturday and “Meet Up with the Mayor”:

Bruges Waffles & Frites
2314 S. Highland Drive
10-11 a.m.

Harmon’s Emigration Market
1706 E. 1300 South
Noon-1 p.m.

Hatch Family Chocolates
376 8th Ave.
2-3 p.m.

Publik Coffee Roasters
976 S. West Temple
4-5 p.m.

Other great ways to stay in touch with Mayor Becker include connecting via social media, calling or dropping him an email. Here’s where to find Ralph:

Phone:                                801-535-7704

Email:                                 mayor@slcgov.com

Facebook:                          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayor-Ralph-Becker/67917736349

Twitter:                               https://twitter.com/slcmayorsoffice

Instagram:                          http://instagram.com/slcmayorsoffice

Youtube:                            https://www.youtube.com/user/slcmayorsoffice

Register for the USGBC-Utah 2014 Sustainability Summit

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Sustainable Building Summit: An Atmosphere of Change
Friday, October 3
The Leonardo (209 E 500 S)

This year’s Sustainability Summit includes world class keynote speakers who will be joined by local and national presenters. Speakers will share the best of today’s transformational sustainability, along with innovation and disruption for the future.

Keynote speakers are Elizabeth Craig, US EPA Director of Climate Protection Partnerships, and Mitch Joachim, architect and visionary. They will be joined by a bevy of innovative national and local sustainability speakers, including Salt Lake City Green’s own Tyler Poulson.

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USGBC-Utah is extremely honored to be able to present Mayor Becker with the 2014 Craig Forster Lifetime Achievement Award for Sustainability.

Over 30 years ago, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker was taken by the same allure that brought many residents to Utah’s Capital City, drawn by the area’s unique mix of geo-graphic beauty, metropolitan energy and year-round recreational opportunities.

Ralph earned two graduate degrees at his new home’s University of Utah – a Master’s in Planning and a JD – after completing undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania in 1973. He served as the Utah State Planning Coordinator under Governor Scott Matheson and then went on to launch his own Salt Lake City-based consulting firm, Bear West, specializing in community planning, environmental assessment, public lands use and public involvement before acting on his long-held desire to serve the public.

Elected to the Utah State Legislature in 1996, Ralph was a member of the House of Representatives for 11 years and battled for the issues most important to his Avenues constituents. He served in legislative leadership positions for most of that tenure, including five years as House Minority Leader.

In 2008, Ralph brought this considerable body of education, experience and engagement with local issues to his new office of Mayor of Salt Lake City.

In his first term, Mayor Becker has greatly expanded transportation options for the City’s residents and visitors, with a special focus on public transit, trails and bikeways. He also championed the state’s first municipal protections in the areas of employment and housing for the City’s LGBT community – an effort that has since been replicated by Salt Lake County and over a dozen local governments throughout Utah. Under Mayor Becker’s leadership, City government has become much more transparent, and new opportunities have been created for residents to engage and participate in the decision making process.

Mayor Becker is a leader who has made, and will continue to make, collaboration and partnerships an essential element in his efforts to see Salt Lake City as an even more vibrant, livable and sustainable community for its current residents and into the future.

Ralph is an avid outdoorsman who, when he is away from work, can be found backcountry skiing, river running or backpacking. He is also the proud father of two sons and a 19-year-old granddaughter.

I know there are many people who will want to see the Mayor receive his award, and they will also be eager to hear him give his lunchtime presentation on
his lifetime commitment to the natural environment, community sustainability and his service on President Obama’s State, Local and Tribal Task Force on Climate Change and Resiliency.

Register for the 2014 Sustainability Summit
Friday, October 3
The Leonardo (209 E 500 S)

Agenda

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Celebrate the S-Line Greenway Grand Opening on Sept. 19

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You’re invited to the grand opening of the new S-Line Greenway in Salt Lake City!

Grand Opening: Friday, September 19th

Come celebrate the opening of Salt Lake City’s newest public space. The S-Line Greenway is a mile-long linear park running parallel to the streetcar line from 500 East to McClelland Street. The greenway features public art, plazas and a multi-modal segment of Parley’s Trail.

11:30 a.m. Grand Opening Press Conference (S-Line at 600 East)
Join Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker as he marks the official completion of the Greenway and the S-Line’s Parley’s Trail connection. He will be joined by South Salt Lake City Mayor Cherie Wood, County Mayor Ben McAdams and other project partners. Refreshments will be provided.

5:30 & 7:30 p.m. S-Line Community Celebration
Come celebrate the Greenway and it’s new Parley’s Trail connection with the corridor’s artists, designers and community partners. This free event will feature food, art and musical performances along the corridor.

We’ll see you there!