Salt Lake City is committed to reducing emissions in our internal operations, as well as helping employees do their part to clear the air. With roughly 3,000 employees, Salt Lake City can make significant strides toward reducing air pollution by educating, motivating, and providing resources to our workforce. The City offers each full-time employee a UTA Eco Pass, as well as a SLC GreenBike annual membership to those who are interested. We also encourage teleworking, carpooling, and public transportation usage for work-related travel. Each July, Salt Lake City participates in the annual “Clear the Air Challenge.”
This winter, Salt Lake City decided to try something new by launching an internal “Clean Air Challenge” using our employee engagement platform, Empower SLC. Each week for four weeks, employees learned how they can reduce emissions. Themes were taken in part from UCAIR’s winter campaign, and included “What is an Inversion?”, “Health Effects of Air Pollution”, “Wood burning”, and “Be Idle-Free.”
Each “Clean Air Challenge” theme had a lesson, video, quiz, and actions. Participation earned points and recognition for individuals and departments.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski sent several emails to all of SLC Corp’s employees, urging everyone’s participation and highlighting the difference we can make to air quality. This message resonated particularly well during a strong inversion the first week of February when we saw our highest participation rate.
As part of the “Clean Air Challenge,” we also encouraged employees to change their commuting behavior at least once a week by taking transit, carpooling, teleworking, or using active transportation to get to work. We received positive feedback from many employees:
“I started working for Salt Lake City in June, and I didn’t know how much I would enjoy riding TRAX. I don’t have to deal with the stress of rush hour traffic, I have made some great friends, and I actually have time to read the book club book each month. I love mass transit!”
“It’s been surprisingly fun to take the bus so far. It does increase my commuting time, but I can read more and feel more educated when getting to work!”
“I started riding public transportation 2 years (ago) for economic & environmental reasons. I have found my experience to be very enjoyable and fulfilling.”
“Since the SLC GreenBikes are available year-round now, I’m learning that for most days in the winter (so far in January) you really can bike to work – even on super cold or snowy days.”
“My husband and I have had the opportunity to commute to work this week and it’s been fantastic! I like having a little bit of extra time with him as well having the feeling of making a little bit of a difference to help the community.”
Beyond employee engagement, Salt Lake City is working to reduce emissions from our overall municipal operations. Recent initiatives include:
- Phasing out 2-stroke engines in maintenance equipment in favor of electric and/or 4 stroke engines that are ten-to-thirty times cleaner
- Developing tailpipe emissions reduction plans for passenger and heavy duty vehicles for all city departments
- Instituting a comprehensive Energy Management Plan for all city departments and producing Salt Lake City’s first Municipal Energy Benchmarking Report
- Enhancing public awareness of our Idle Free Ordinance
- Installing 23 new public electric vehicle charging ports in February 2017
- Partnering with the University of Utah and Utah Clean Energy on the U Drive Electric program, which put 130 new EV’s on the road last fall.
- Commencing a city-wide program to evaluate the energy use of large commercial buildings and encourage participation in the Skyline Challenge—this year in partnership with the Salt Lake Chamber.
- Other Salt Lake City actions on air quality can be found at: www.slcgreen.com/air-slc