One of the country’s leading outdoor recreation destinations also leads the way in environmentally friendly actions—and results. Over the past decade, grass-roots business practices and the vision and activism of Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson and his staff have given the city a leg up in every area of conservation—from wind power purchasing to designating 45 miles of bike lanes.
Though the city has a solid record of environmentally progressive practices, the world really took notice when Salt Lake won the World Leadership Award in the environment category in December 2005. Mayor Anderson’s work as a leading international spokesman and expert on combating global warming was recognized by the World Leadership Forum (WLF) at an award ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice. The WLF praised Salt Lake’s ambitious environmental program, “Salt Lake City Green.” This coordinated series of major initiatives includes alternative transportation, zero-waste, recycling, climate protection, e2 business promotion, high- performance buildings, open space, urban forests and smart growth.
Recent and ongoing highlights in Salt Lake City and County’s “green” progress:
• In 2001, Salt Lake committed to meeting the standards of the Kyoto Protocol (7 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels). The city implemented a state-of-the-art software system for tracking emissions (the first in the nation to do so) and has since exceeded goals, reducing emissions more than 21 percent overall. Actions include converting traffic signals to high-efficiency LEDs, switching to compact fluorescent bulbs in City Hall and capturing methane at the city’s wastewater treatment facility and using it to fuel a cogeneration plant. By mayoral proclamation, all new city-owned buildings must be designed according to high-energy-performance/LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.
• Salt Lake citizens support mass transit. The city’s TRAX light rail system has exceeded all ridership projections—by 100 percent. In 2005, the Utah Transit Authority’s overall system (bus, rail, Flextrans) carried an average of 126,000 riders per weekday. TRAX ridership, now at more than 50,000 riders per day, increased more than 35 percent between May 2005 and May 2006.
Downtown residents and visitors now take advantage of the TRAX free fare zone running from the Gateway Center at South Temple all the way to the Grand America Hotel at 600 South and Main Street.
• In July 2006 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added the University of Utah to its list of Top 10 College & University Green Power Partners. The U, located on Salt Lake’s north-east side, was recognized for its voluntary purchase of 25 million kilowatt-hours of green power—in the form of wind-generated power from Sterling Planet.
• e2 Business Program: Salt Lake businesses are encouraged to set and meet environmental improvement goals to receive e2 certification. The goals are simple: minimizing environmental impact while saving money. More than 40 businesses have met the goals to date.
• Squatters Pub Brewery Restaurant, one of the city’s environmentally conscious businesses, says their e2 way of doing business makes them answerable to a “triple bottom line that includes people, planet and profit.” The brewery has installed three waterless urinals in its historic building, saving 210,000 gallons of water each year. They partner with an art program through the Sundance Institute to transform used beer bottles into new water glasses. Their delivery trucks run on biodiesel and their restaurants support local growers and producers.
• Uinta Brewing, another e2 certified business, was the first Salt Lake company to switch to 100 percent wind power. They’re the only recycler of brown bottles in the state and Uinta’s spent grain is donated to local farmers as a food source for livestock—60,000 pounds a week. The brewery also invested in a water recycling system.
• Salt Lake e2 Business “Star Wash and Express Lube” is the only known business in the region that recycles 100 percent of its spent oil and 85 percent of its water. The spent oil is used to heat Star’s buildings, water and chemicals in the wash and the dryers.
For a full list of Salt Lake’s e2 Businesses and more information on “Salt Lake City Green,” please visit www.slcgreen.com.
• Salt Lake ski resorts Alta and Snowbird, both located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, have long worked to create a better environment for present and future generations of skiers and snowboarders. From purchasing wind power to providing economic incentives for their guests to use public transportation to building energy efficient facilities and participating in active tree and vegetation programs, each boasts a long list of environment-friendly actions.
• The Salt Palace Convention Center’s recent $58 million expansion embraces green practices such as 32 waterless urinals, saving approximately 1.2 million gallons of water annually. The Salt Palace also boasts the largest solar power light system installed in Utah and will become the largest LEED building in Utah upon certification.
A Green Future
As Salt Lake embarks on a $1.5 billion renovation of a 10-block area of downtown over the next five years, environmental concerns rank high on the list of “Downtown Rising,” the city’s comprehensive plan for the future of “sustainable urban living.” Following public input, details of the plan will be released in January 2007.
The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown. Having recently undergone a $58 million expansion, the Salt Palace Convention Center now boasts 679,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space, ideal for groups of all sizes and needs. For more information on all that Salt Lake has to offer, visit www.VisitSaltLake.com.