2021 is here! SLCgreen is excited to move forward. But as we prepare for the year to come, we’re also ready to incorporate what we’ve learned from 2020.
At the beginning of 2020, SLCgreen was eagerly preparing for a new administration and planning for a year of innovative sustainability projects. After a busy 2019 we were ready to take the next steps towards bringing net-100% renewable energy to our community. A new state-of-the-art recycling facility was near completion. And an innovative resident-led food equity program was convening to help improve food access in Salt Lake City.
The challenges of the past year have been harrowing. Within the first months of 2020, Salt Lake City pivoted our work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We experienced an earthquake that damaged our homes and businesses. Hurricane-force winds toppled thousands of trees and left many members of our communities without power for several days.
Despite it all, SLCgreen was able to accomplish many of our goals with the help of our dedicated crews and community members. The challenges our community faced in 2020 laid bare the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and climate action. The year required us take more direct actions to improve our emergency response plans, to better support the voices of residents who have been excluded in the past, and to expand our communications to facilitate more collaborative work.
SLCgreen is ready to build off of what we learned during the past year, but before we set our sights on 2021, here are a few highlights from 2020.
It’s time for the 12th annual DIY Festival. Normally held at the Salt Lake Fairgrounds, this year’s Craft Lake City will be virtual to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This year’s festival is putting their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) and Craft skills to work by building an entire virtual gallery for attendees to explore.
The virtual space is a unique way to engage with the community. You can pop on your VR (virtual reality) goggles, or just navigate from your computer, and explore the rooms and workshops via a personalized avatar.
But don’t be alarmed – Craft Lake City is still the same event you know and love. You’ll be able to learn about local STEM programs, as well as visit the booths of local artisans. The 3-day festival has something for everyone!
Visit Craft Lake City
If you love the SIMS, Minecraft or other Virtual Reality games, you’ll love exploring the online DIY Festival. But even if you’re not familiar with virtual spaces, there is lots to be excited about for this year’s festival.
Salt Lake City hasbeen a long-time sponsor of the festival and we’rethrilled that the organizers have figured out a way to bring the event to the community again this year.
SLCgreen usually sets up a table in the STEM center at the festival and we areexcited to be part of this year’s virtual space. With the help of the Craft Lake City teams, we built our very own SLCgreen gallery! Take a peek below:
In the SLCgreen Virtual Gallery, you can learn more about :
Sustainability encompasses environmental, societal, economic, and equity needs. SLCgreen works to fight climate change, reduce emissions, ensure access to local food, and keep our air and water clean. All of SLCgreen’s environmental efforts directly link to equity and social justice.
SLCgreen is dedicated to helping the community build a more sustainable and resilient future. We hope you will visit us at the DIY Festival and tell us what “Sustainability” means to you!
Support Local Vendors
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a serious toll on the health and economic well-being of our communities. Part of building a sustainable community is helping to support the economic and equity needs in our City. It is more important than ever to support local artists and STEM developers– and Craft Lake City presents a fun and easy way to do that.
There are many reasons to buy local. Shopping at local businesses helps support our local economy, but has the added benefit of being more environmentally sustainable. Local purchases reduce the need for bulky packaging and help cut down on emissions associated with delivery.
Find a full list of participating artists and creators here.
The famous chasing arrows recycling symbol is a powerful tool when used properly. Unfortunately, the little arrows can sometimes lead us off course.
The arrows appear on everything from easily recycled materials like aluminum and cardboard to not-so-recyclable materials like insulation and clothing. The confusion is often linked to the fact that, in theory if not practicality, most materials are recyclable somewhere. But just because an item has the recycle symbol, doesn’t mean it’s recyclable everywhere.
Let’s take a look at the recycling symbol’s history and get the story straight on what is and isn’t recyclable.
Salt Lake City recently “flipped the switch” on its latest municipal solar installation on the roof of the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center. The 360-panel array was funded in part by a grant from Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky customers and will generate about 34 percent of the amount of electricity the Sorenson Community Campus consumes annually. This amount of solar generation is equivalent to burning about 129,000 pounds of coal annually.
The 115-kilowatt system was installed as part of the Campus’ larger two-year renovation project.
Through its Blue Sky program, Rocky Mountain Power agreed to fund 41 percent of eligible project costs, up to a maximum of $140,000. The remainder of the solar installation is being funded by the Salt Lake City Sustainability Department.
“We are thrilled to unveil this impressive solar array at Salt Lake City’s flagship community center serving our Glendale and Poplar Grove residents,” Mayor Erin Mendenhall said. “We’re committed to bringing the benefits of clean energy to all areas of our city and we extend our deepest gratitude to Rocky Mountain Power and its Blue Sky participants for making this possible.”
Blue Sky is an opt-in program that gives Rocky Mountain Power customers the opportunity to financially support renewable energy development. Since 2006, Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky customers have voluntarily supported wind and solar energy generation in the region. Blue Sky has provided more than $11 million in funding to community-based renewable energy projects.
The Sorenson Community Campus includes both the Sorenson Unity Center and the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center. The Sorenson Unity Center, located at 1383 S 900 W, houses a fitness center, computer labs and technology center, classrooms, a theater space, art galleries, and more. It offers many community programs, including donated dental services, tax prep assistance, early Head Start, and afterschool and summer programs run by Salt Lake City’s Youth & Family Division.
The Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center offers many youth and adult programs and houses a swimming pool, boxing gym, drop-in childcare, and basketball gyms.
“The installation of a solar array on the Sorenson Campus is a great complement to our educational offerings and community programming,” said Ken Perko, Associate Director of the Division of Youth and Family Services. “Patrons will be able to see the impact of solar production from a cost-savings and energy efficiency standpoint, allowing us to provide direct connections to our environmental education programs.”
“Organizations like the Sorenson Center play a crucial role in our communities and we are grateful to our Blue Sky customers for making renewable projects like these possible,” said Bill Comeau, Rocky Mountain Power Vice President for Customer Solutions.
The Sorenson solar installation is the latest clean energy project for Salt Lake City. The City has installed solar on over a dozen buildings, purchased 3 MW of Subscriber Solar from Rocky Mountain Power, and is working to source at least half of its municipal electric consumption from renewable sources. The City is also partnering with Rocky Mountain Power to achieve net-100 percent clean electricity for the whole Salt Lake City community by 2030. Twenty-two other Utah communities are also currently participating in this initiative.
In the months following our collective action to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, the air quality improved around the globe. According to University of Utah research, particulate matter pollution in Salt Lake City was reduced 59% as of May 6.
Although Salt Lake City is maintaining an “orange” status for our COVID-19 response, there has been an uptick in cases across Utah. In a city in which public health is harmed by poor air quality, any virus that affects the respiratory system is cause for concern. However, with the knowledge that stay at home orders temporarily reduced our local air pollution, we can learn more about possible ways of improving air quality in the future.
Let’s take a closer look at the ways air quality and COVID-19 interact – and some ways you can help protect the air and each other.
We send our love to all of you. The events of the last few weeks have been a difficult and trying time for our country, our community, and our city.
We want to take this moment to acknowledge the profound injustice of black lives lost to white supremacy and police brutality across the country. We stand with the movement to bring greater justice to our entire community. Black lives matter.
Those of us who work in Salt Lake City government have felt so many emotions as we collectively work towards a community that is stronger, more equitable, more inclusive, and more responsive to you—our residents. We are working to ensure we are hearing all voices.
As the Sustainability Department, we’d also like to share our thoughts on the role we play in advancing equity within the City and our community.
We define “sustainability” as the balance between environmental, societal, economic, and equity needs. While “sustainability” is often thought of as only an “environmental” movement (and for much of its history it has been), we believe true sustainability prioritizes a healthy society in all of the ways that comes about.
Sustainability also means not jeopardizing our community’s future well-being over decisions we make in the present. And we’d also add: “over decisions that were made in the past.”
Many people are having conversations about what racism means in America in 2020. It’s impossible to discuss that without looking to our nation’s past.
We’re looking at health indicators that are worse in minority communities that make them more susceptible to air pollution, while at the same time, many are exposed to air pollution at higher amounts because of where they live (near industry, near highways, and by working in professions that increases exposure). There are also barriers to information, to health care, and to so many other resources that make these factors worse. So our efforts to reduce “air pollution,” also must mean addressing these inequities in all of the ways we can.
It’s similar with climate change. Of course, we know that temperatures are increasing everywhere, but they are rising more in areas with more concrete and fewer trees. We’re also looking at those who don’t have adequate home cooling, or who work outside, or who have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to heat. We’re looking at the way that climate change and higher temperatures increases ozone pollution and wildfire smoke and the spread of new diseases. As we’ve seen with coronavirus, these health impacts hit our most vulnerable first. And our minority communities are often on the frontline, due to many structural factors and decades of systemic racism.
These are global issues, but the impact is local.
Food access is another important area of focus for our department. Eating healthy, fresh food is not something that should be reserved for the privileged. But those who struggle in getting enough to eat, and in eating healthy foods are often poor and are often people of color. This is also a structural challenge we are confronting every day.
Please know that we are dedicated to advancing equity and racial justice at the forefront of all the sustainability work we do. This includes actively listening and involving the people in our work who are most impacted. At the same time, we recognize that sustainability has been dominated by white bodies and white privilege. We are at the center of government and it’s a reminder of how much further we have to go. We too are practicing and learning what anti-racism means.
We’re humbled to continue the conversation and are grateful for your feedback.
SLCgreen is excited to introduce Chris Bell, Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling’s new Director.
The Sustainability Department is comprised of two divisions – the Energy & Environment (E&E) Division, which is the policy division that houses our energy, local food, business engagement, internal policy, and communications roles. And then there is the Waste & Recycling Divisionwhich is the operational side of our department. This division is responsible for the daily collection of garbage, trash, and recycling, and other special programs.
So we’re happy to welcome Chris to the Department where he’ll lead the Waste & Recycling Division.
Chris’ career in recycling started almost 20 years ago. He is passionate about using his skills to have a positive impact on the environment and is guided by his philosophy to create a strong legacy of conservation. Chris believes that building a sustainable future is our collective responsibility – and has the added benefit of being good business.
Chris’ work in recycling has taken him from Utah to Colorado to Texas and back. Beginning in paper recycling and moving on though operational and commercial management, Chris is highly qualified in recycling and waste management. He is driven to maintain a strong safety record as well as improve operations to deliver outstanding service to the community.
We are thrilled to have Chris on board to help guide our City towards zero waste and a strong recycling and composting system.
The Waste & Recycling Director oversees 60 staff working to collect garbage, recycling, and yard waste from over 42,000 residents in Salt Lake City.
Join us in giving Chris a warm welcome to the SLCgreen team!
The 2-day event features workshops and lectures from leaders in sustainability. The Summit highlights sustainability solutions to help build resiliency and protect the environment and economy.
Highlighting Clean Energy Communities
The Intermountain Sustainability Summit began as a way to bring students, professionals, and the public together to learn about sustainability topics including clean energy, infrastructure, and water conservation. The Summit unites non-profits, businesses, local governments, educators, students, and interested members of the public together for a variety of workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities.
It’s 2020 already and we can hardly believe it! Salt Lake City finished out 2019 strong alongside 19 communities that opted into the Community Renewable Energy Act’s pathway to achieve net-100% renewable energy.
But that’s not all SLCgreen got up to in 2019. It was a busy year, and as a community, we have taken major strides in accomplishing our goals. See our full 2019 Year in Review here and read below for a few of the major highlights.
Thanks to all our partners in City government, other government agencies, non-profit associations, neighborhood groups, business partners, and community councils, we are continuing to make SLC more sustainable and resilient.
You can take a look at the 2017 and 2018 reports to see what we’ve been working on over the last few years. Before we set our sights on 2020, here are a few highlights from 2019!
Air Quality, Climate Change & Energy
After a three-year collaboration with Park City, Summit County, Rocky Mountain Power, and the state legislature, we successfully saw passage of House Bill 411 the “Community Renewable Energy Act” in the 2019 legislative session. The law establishes a legal pathway for communities with 100% clean energy goals to achieve them in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Power.
Expanded public EV charging infrastructure, increasing the total number of city-owned EV charging ports to 38, plus 16 at the airport.
With Utah Clean Energy, launched “Empower SLC,” a neighborhood energy efficiency program targeting the 84116 and 84104 neighborhoods to improve energy efficiency and conservation measures that reduce pollution and lower utility costs. As of September, over 450 households have been engaged, resulting in an estimated savings of 335,353 kWh per year!
Developed an energy after-school curriculum for youth groups and created a new partnership with YouthCity on programming for the Fall 2019 programs. This resulted in the adoption of “energy” as the central theme of their Science Fair.
Hosted the Elevate Buildings awards luncheon, recognizing first-year reporting commercial buildings with ENERGY STAR scores 75 and above and Mayoral recognition of exceptional performers.
Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!
It has been a busy summer for the Clever Octopus Creative Reuse Center. The creative reuse center is one of Salt Lake City’s e2 Businesses, a program dedicated to helping Salt Lake’s business community be more economically- and environmentally-sustainable. And Clever Octopus is passionate about sustainability. With multiple summer camps, including Sculpting the Future: Art to Save Utah with Goldman Sachs, and even more classes throughout the summer, the creative reuse center helps divert waste, support the community, and foster creativity and environmental awareness through art.
Indeed, Clever Octopus has expanded its programming from a thrift store for art supplies to a fully-fledged creative reuse center providing educational opportunities for students of all ages and skill levels across Salt Lake Valley.
SLCgreen recently met with members of Clever Octopus’ team, Lin Huang, Kacy Huston, Jen Lopez and David Sadler, to talk about their work making art sustainable and accessible.