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Posts tagged ‘vicki bennett’

Check Out this Interview with the SLCgreen Director

sustainable nation.

The Sustainable Nation Podcast interviewed our very own Sustainability Director -Vicki Bennett. Check out the podcast to hear insights and advice from the leader of our City’s award-winning Salt Lake City Green sustainability program.

The Sustainable Nation Podcast produces interviews with global leaders in sustainability and was developed to provide information and insights from the world’s most inspiring change-makers.

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Vicki Bennett has led Salt Lake City’s award-winning Salt Lake City Green sustainability program for 17 years and has integrated sustainability policies throughout government operations and Salt Lake City as a whole. She works with both city agencies and the public to create a more livable community.

Vicki’s experience includes sustainability program management, climate change mitigation, and adaptation, energy policy, food security, waste diversion, and environmental compliance.

She is a founding member of both the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Utah Climate Action Network. She holds a degree in Chemistry from the University of California at San Diego, and an Executive MBA from the University of Utah.

The interview gives listeners a glimpse of Vicki’s journey from a lab chemist to her current role as the leader of Salt Lake City Green. Vicki has forged some of the City’s most innovative programs to ensure a healthy sustainable future for us all. Give the podcast a listen to learn more!

 

For more information on Climate Positive, please visit: http://www.slcgreen.com/climatepositive and follow #ClimatePositiveSLC for continuing updates.

 

 

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. 

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Salt Lake City Partners with Utilities to Improve Building Energy Efficiency

Last Friday, Salt Lake City was recognized by The White House and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for its efforts to unlock access to energy data for building owners and improve energy efficiency.

Since 2013, Salt Lake City has partnered with both Rocky Mountain Power and Questar to provide whole-building energy data access to building owners through the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Tool. The effort, which is on track for completion in 2017, will ensure effortless energy data management for building owners, providing a complete picture as to building energy use and enabling them to employ more responsive strategies.

“Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain Power and Questar are working together to help building owners understand how their building is operating and to identify opportunities to improve energy management,” says Vicki Bennett, sustainability director for Salt Lake City. “By automating and streamlining the process, more Salt Lake City building owners will be able to improve energy efficiency – ultimately saving energy, money and emissions.”

Salt Lake City is committed to improving air quality, and buildings play an important role in emissions. The most recent data from the Utah Division of Air Quality show that 39% of existing air pollution comes from area sources (i.e. homes and businesses). This percentage is expected to increase significantly over the next 20 years as vehicles become more efficient, making building energy efficiency efforts more and more important.

Last week, Mayor Jackie Biskupski extended an invitation to leading industry experts to share their ideas and best practices for energy efficiency in buildings, as part of the Elevate Buildings process.

“There is nothing more important than the air we breathe, and working to clear our skies is a top priority of my administration,” says Mayor Biskupksi. “By collaborating with industry experts we will help improve air quality through increased energy efficiency our city’s largest buildings.”

Learn more about Salt Lake City’s efforts to cut energy waste in buildings at SLCgov.com/ProjectSkyline.

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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.

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.

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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SLCgreen Director Vicki Bennett Honored with Sustainable Leadership Award from Utah Business Magazine

Today Salt Lake City Green Director Vicki Bennett was recognized with a Sustainable Business Leadership Award from Utah Business Magazine. And the entire SLCgreen team was there to cheer her on! Please join us in congratulating Vicki on this outstanding achievement.

Visit Utah Business Magazine to read the award nomination, also included below.

Vicki Bennett 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. “What we are trying to achieve is the healthiest possible place to live,” Bennett says. “That’s what the breadth of sustainability is all about.”

The scope of her work is reflected in the Sustainable Salt Lake Plan 2015, a plan that has been described as one of the most ambitious and broad-reaching sustainability agendas in the country. Some of the plan’s “targets” include increasing the number of CNG fueling stations and electric-vehicle charging stations in the city, increasing renewable energy generation for city buildings, increasing the residential recycling rate to 50 percent, increasing on-road bikeways by 50 percent—and many, many more.

The Sustainable City Dashboard provides details of the plan and its goals, and enables residents to track the city’s progress toward meeting those goals. Going forward, Bennett says the city will focus on climate issues and adapting to the changes that are already happening.

Community outreach is a major component of her work. She says, “It’s important to help people understand they are paying for the pollution they create,” whether that’s through health impacts, ecological degradation, or waste cleanup and storage.

Prior to joining the city, Bennett implemented environmental management systems for PacifiCorp and offered international environmental consulting for a variety of industries.

#ActOnClimate in Salt Lake City

Over the last nine months, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake City Green Director Vicki Bennett have participated in the White House’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which was tasked with advising President Obama on how the Federal government can best respond to the needs of communities nationwide already dealing with the impacts of climate change.

The task force, made up of 26 officials from across the country, is holding its fourth and final meeting today in Washington D.C. Formal recommendations will be delivered to the President in the fall.

Today the President is announcing a series of actions to respond to the Task Force’s early feedback to help state, local, and tribal leaders prepare their communities for the impacts of climate change by developing more resilient infrastructure and rebuilding existing infrastructure stronger and smarter. See below for full details.

We’re proud to #ActOnClimate right here in Salt Lake City! Learn more at SLCgreen.com or dashboard.slcgov.com.

And check out this SLCgreen blog story about how the City is leading the way with solar!

 

FACT SHEET: Taking Action to Support State, Local, and Tribal Leaders as They Prepare Communities for the Impacts of Climate Change

Providing Federal resources to support climate preparedness:

  • National Disaster Resilience Competition. The nearly $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition, announced by the President on June 14, will make resources available to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years.  Building on the success of the Rebuild by Design competition after Hurricane Sandy, this competition will create replicable models of modern disaster recovery that apply science-based and forward-looking risk analysis to address recovery and resilience needs.  The competition will also help communities create and implement disaster recovery plans that will make them better prepared for future extreme weather events and other shocks.

    Today, new details for the competition are being announced by the President. The year-long competition will have two phases: (1) risk assessment and planning; and (2) design and implementation.  Many communities will be eligible for funding and technical assistance during Phase 1 to develop innovative, data-driven, and community-led approaches to recovery that increase preparedness for future disasters.  A subset of these communities will be invited to continue in Phase 2 to design solutions for recovery and future resilience. The best proposals will receive funds for implementation to demonstrate how communities across the country can build a more resilient future.  More information is available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=FactSheet_071514.pdf.

  • Helping tribes prepare for climate impacts. The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs today launched a new $10 million Federal-Tribal Climate Resilience Partnership and Technical Assistance Program that will help tribes prepare for climate change by developing and delivering adaptation training. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will establish an interagency group to provide tribes with data and information, improve Federal collaboration, and assist with climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
  • Investing in the nation’s rural electric system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced awards totaling $236.3 million in funding for eight states to support improved rural electric infrastructure. A modern, reliable electric system is critical to attract and retain residents and businesses in rural communities. Supporting rural electric utilities’ deployment of smart grid technologies will increase efficiency and reliability and bring more jobs to rural America.  President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity, support the rural way of life, and ensure the Federal Government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
  • Developing advanced mapping data and tools. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal agencies today launched a $13.1 million 3-D Elevation Program partnership designed to bring Federal agencies, academia, corporate entities, states, tribes, and communities together to develop advanced 3-dimensional mapping data of the United States.  These data and related tools will be used in the areas of flood risk management, water resource planning, mitigation of coastal erosion and storm surge impacts, and identification of landslide hazards as an essential component of supporting action on climate resilience. More information is available at http://nationalmap.gov/3DEP/.
  • Safeguarding access to quality drinking water amid drought. USDA continues to work with producers, communities, affected states and other agencies to help address the current West Coast drought. This week, the Department will announce additional funds to help rural communities struggling with drought. These funds will help rural communities that have experienced or are likely to experience a significant decline in the quantity or quality of drinking water due to severe drought and other emergencies.


Rebuilding stronger and safer after natural disasters:

  • Establishing a Mitigation Integration Task Force.  In order to help communities build back stronger and safer in the face of new risks, FEMA has established a Mitigation Integration Task Force to develop and implement a Mitigation Integration Pilot Program by the end of August.  Working with State, tribal, local, and eligible private non-profit partners, FEMA will identify pilot projects in current and emerging disasters where there are specific opportunities to make investments that result in a more resilient outcome than using a single funding source and program.  This pilot program will work to equip communities to meet their recovery objectives and ensure that all resources are brought to bear through FEMA’s Mitigation and Recovery programs to minimize the impact of future disasters. This is part of FEMA’s goal of breaking the cycle of disasters — saving lives, protecting property, reducing losses, and allowing individuals and communities to recover more quickly after a disaster.
  • Accounting for Climate Change in Hazard Mitigation Planning.  To ensure that States are preparing for the impacts of climate change, FEMA will release new guidance for State Hazard Mitigation Plans that calls upon States to consider climate variability as part of their requirement to address the probability of future events in state planning efforts. Last issued in 2008, FEMA’s guidance for these plans helps States prepare in advance of a disaster to identify and drive actions for more resilient and sustainable recovery, such as elevating or relocating homes and businesses to reduce flood risks associated with sea-level rise and more intense storms or rebuilding to higher standards. More information is available at http://www.fema.gov/multi-hazard-mitigation-planning.

Building more resilient communities:

  • Committing to “Preparedness Pilots.”  The Administration today announced the launch of two “Preparedness Pilots” in cooperation with the City of Houston and the State of Colorado, with NASA (Johnson Space Flight Center) and the Energy Department (National Renewable Energy Laboratory).  The pilots will involve key Federal agencies in each community, including NASA, the Energy Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Agriculture. These pilots will bring together federal agencies and local communities to assess and plan for their region-specific vulnerabilities and interdependencies associated with the impacts of climate change. This effort will advance preparedness planning on the ground and help create models for other communities and agencies to follow.
  • Making our coasts more resilient.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced new program guidance under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act to ensure greater consideration of how climate change may exacerbate challenges in the management of coastal areas.  Through this effort, $1.5 million of competitive funding will be available to help states and tribes make improvements to their coastal management programs. The guidance will help state and tribal coastal managers better prepare for the impacts of climate change and improve the safety of their communities.  More information is available at http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/.
  • Improving stormwater management. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today launched a Green Infrastructure Collaborative among government agencies, NGOs, and other private sector entities to advance green stormwater infrastructure.  Green infrastructure, such as urban forests and rooftop gardens, can be used as an important tool for building resilience to climate change impacts such as increased precipitation and heat island effects. Federal agencies will provide funding assistance in at least 25 communities across the country for green infrastructure projects, technical assistance to create integrated green stormwater management and hazard mitigation plans, and recognition and awards programs for innovative green infrastructure projects. Agencies will also add guidance on green infrastructure to existing Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) peer-to-peer exchange and training programs. The partnership will also provide a platform for conducting research on increasing affordability and effectiveness, sharing best practices, and developing actionable planning tools that decision-makers have been seeking.
  • Assessing climate-related health hazards. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released a new guide, “Assessing Health Vulnerability to Climate Change,” to help public health departments assess local vulnerabilities to health hazards associated with climate change. The assessments will help inform targeted public health actions to reduce the health impacts of climate change. More information is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/pubs/AssessingHealthVulnerabilitytoClimateChange.pdf

 

Net Zero Cities Conference

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As the world tackles the challenges of climate change, energy supply and water security, communities are taking the lead in finding solutions.

The Net Zero Cities Conference (October 23-24, 2013) will bring together thought leaders from around the globe to share their systems-based approaches, processes and examples of success in working towards net zero at the community scale.

Salt Lake City’s own Vicki Bennett, director of Salt Lake City Green, will speak on the plenary panel on the second day of the conference. She plans to discuss Salt Lake City’s new net zero Public Safety Building and policies surrounding net zero energy.

You can learn more about the Net Zero Cities Conference on their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Look for the #NetZeroCities hashtag to join the conversation!