A Sustainable Energy Blueprint For a Great American City

Salt Lake City is a prosperous urban center, a tech hub, and a leader in job creation and employment opportunities. As we grow, it is essential that we do everything we can to minimize adverse impacts of development on both the natural environment and our own health. Becoming a sustainable, livable city requires a comprehensive approach to our policies and actions, from urban agriculture to more mobility options, walkable neighborhoods, and supporting local businesses. Mayor Becker’s comprehensive approach has ensured diverse and affordable housing opportunities, easy access to our remarkable landscapes and reduced our carbon footprint and air pollution.

Salt Lake City is a national leader in environmental protection, including addressing climate change. We are recognized as the regional model for aggressively tackling air quality, and protecting our mountains and water supply. Salt Lake City has taken a holistic approach to consider every facet of our community to build a sustainable, livable city, as expressed in Mayor Becker’s Livability Agenda. We must build on our momentum and address our most pressing environmental challenges.

Mayor Becker’s Sustainability Accomplishments

Mayor Becker and his Administration have made great strides to improve the City’s sustainability, address clean air issues and improve resiliency to climate change:

  • Built a net zero public safety building: The city’s new Public Safety Building was the first of its kind in the country to be built to a “net zero” energy standard. This means the project generates as much renewable energy as it uses.
  • Established LEED Gold building standards: We established LEED Gold as the minimum rating that all of Salt Lake City’s new or substantially remodeled municipal facilities must meet for saving energy and reducing air pollution.
  • Converted streetlights to LED: In the past 7 years, we have converted all of the City’s traffic signals to high-efficiency LED lights—saving more than 1,700,000 kilowatt-hours of power and $100,000 per year.
  • Built Salt Lake City’s first municipal solar farm: As part of the net zero Public Safety Building project, we built the City’s first photovoltaic solar farm near I-215 and 500 South.
  • Created the Clear the Air Challenge: Mayor Becker’s Salt Lake Solutions team created the Challenge back in 2009, and since then we have averted over seven million vehicle miles traveled and instituted a neighborhood-based trip-reduction program called Smart Trips to save even more.
  • Converted city vehicles to clean fuel, zero emission, and electric models: Salt Lake City has a total of 224 clean vehicles as part of its fleet, including clean diesel, CNG, all-electric and hybrid-electric options. As of 2009, the number of clean fleet vehicles operated by the City has grown from 2% to 15%, and even includes garbage and recycling trucks.
  • Established Project Skyline: In 2014, Mayor Becker implemented Project Skyline, a citywide competition that incentivizes businesses to clear the air by reducing energy use associated with buildings.
  • Brought glass recycling to your curbside: Mayor Becker established the region’s first curbside glass recycling program in partnership with Momentum Recycling. The collected glass is used to manufacture a wide range of products, such as fiberglass, containers, and water filters, which saves substantial energy by reducing the need for processing and transportation.
  • Supported the Community Solar Program: In partnership with Utah Clean Energy, Mayor Becker has worked to help residents get solar energy at a reduced, affordable price. By working together and seeking bulk discounts, hundreds of homes were able to add solar power to their roof throughout the City. We are also working to ensure that utilities pay a fair price for the solar power produced by our citizens.
  • Expanded Urban Agriculture: Since taking office, Mayor Becker has changed zoning rules to allow community gardens in more places throughout the City. The Mayor has also worked to change City ordinances to relax restrictions on keeping chicken coops in neighborhoods and to allow beehives in residential areas, a first for Utah. To make local produce more accessible to residents, especially low-income residents, Salt Lake City launched the SLC FruitShare program. This program provides food from participating homeowners’ backyard orchards to local food assistance programs. To date, more than 50,000 pounds of fruit have been harvested from neighborhood trees and shared with people who would otherwise lack access to fresh fruit.
  • Addressing Climate Change: As a member of President Obama’s Climate Task Force, Mayor Becker and Salt Lake City have been invited to apply for a number of grants and to work collaboratively with cities nationwide on climate planning and action. As part of this effort, Mayor Becker has established a regional network of communities to address climate issues and catalyze the discussion of both carbon reduction efforts and adaptation measures. In addition and at Mayor Becker’s direction, the City’s Public Utilities Department recently completed a detailed analysis of how climate change may affect our water supply, which will guide our future water planning efforts.

Mayor Becker’s Sustainable Energy Blueprint

  1. Double the citywide production of solar power. As a community, we set the goal to produce 10 megawatts of solar energy by 2015, and we are on track to hit that target. By 2020, Salt Lake City should produce three times that amount of solar energy. We can achieve this by creating local incentives for installing residential solar, providing incentives for and removing of regulatory barriers to rooftop solar on commercial buildings, and doubling the size of the City’s photovoltaic farm.
  2. Finish the world’s first net zero airport. Salt Lake City will be home to the most energy-efficient airport in the country. We led the way with our public safety building, and we can take advantage of our terminal redevelopment program to build the nation’s first net zero airport.
  3. Divert 75% of our City’s waste from the landfill. Mayor Becker set a goal to divert half of Salt Lake City waste from the landfill by 2016 and 75% by 2025. This will ensure that waste is not going to landfills or destroyed in waste-to-energy projects that will pollute our air, and is instead recycled or composted in the most efficient manner possible. At Mayor Becker’s direction, the City is partnering with Salt Lake County to establish a better composting facility that will allow us to include all food waste in our green waste program.
  4. Implement the Mountain Accord. We have a once-in-a-generation chance to set a sustainable course for the future of the central Wasatch Mountains, which are especially important to Salt Lake City residents because they provide much of our drinking water and many of our recreational opportunities. Through the Mountain Accord process, more than 200 organizations—from city governments to environmental watchdogs, ski resort managers to conservation groups—and nearly 200 stakeholders came together and agreed on an approach that preserves the legacy of the Wasatch. Mayor Becker is prepared to move this ambitious public lands planning project forward in a way that will protect the Wasatch, sustain our quality of life, and ensure the long term economic viability of the region.
  5. Finish Project Skyline. Buildings are a significant source of air pollution and energy consumption. Mayor Becker set a goal of reducing citywide building energy consumption by 15% by 2020, and created Project Skyline to provide businesses and residents training and education, incentives, and public recognition to meet the goal. Project Skyline is accelerating investments in energy efficiency, raising public awareness of building energy performance, and fostering a stronger Salt Lake City economy. Mayor Becker proposes to expand the program and improve benchmarking and reporting tools to better track effectiveness.
  6. Produce power in our sewers. Cities should embrace innovative methods to generate power from renewable sources, and microturbines that run on “sewer power” have great promise. We can use our geography to our advantage and generate clean energy by installing generation infrastructure in our sewer lines. This idea has been successful in other jurisdictions and we can scale it up here to further reduce our carbon footprint and cut our dependency on coal-fired power plants.
  7. Expand mobility choices that are not dependent on fossil fuels. As our City continues to grow, we will need more and better transportation options. Mayor Becker has made Salt Lake City a national leader in this area, but there is much more to do. In particular, the Mayor will implement the Transit Master Plan once it is adopted so that we may increase the number of routes and frequency of service within Salt Lake City’s borders, and will continue to advance active transportation initiatives throughout the City.