Salt Lake City's Private Sector Demonstrates Leadership on Energy Efficiency and Clean Air


Salt Lake City recently recognized the winners of the 2015 Mayor's Skyline Challenge - a competition between building owners that began in May 2014 with the goal of meeting and exceeding the air quality and energy-saving targets of the Sustainable Salt Lake Plan 2015. During the award ceremony, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, along with Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency for the U.S. Department of Energy and Matthew Dalbey, Director of the Office of Sustainable Communities for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, honored five local leaders that demonstrated remarkable improvements in their buildings' energy savings over the past year.

The following buildings and respective awards were recognized during the ceremony:

  • Basic Research received the Energy Innovator Award
  • Fidelity Investments was honored for its Sustained Excellence
  • The McGillis School took the Most Improved Energy Star Score Award
  • Newmark Grubb ACRES received the Energy Efficiency Leadership Award
  • The Salt Lake School District got the Benchmarking Champion Award

"Salt Lake City is committed to ensuring that our community is a vibrant, healthy and prosperous municipality," said Mayor Becker. "To do this, we must address unhealthy air pollutants, and our buildings can play a significant role in doing so by reducing energy waste. I applaud the leading organizations being recognized--as well as the 20 participants in this first year of competition--for helping to lead the city in reducing energy use and pollution while working to save local taxpayers money and create quality local jobs."

An estimated 40 percent of daily air pollutants during winter in Salt Lake City come from emissions attributable to the power used run buildings throughout the city.

Energy efficiency and air quality improvements in Salt Lake City have been a major focus for Mayor Becker. In 2014, Salt Lake

City was selected as a member of the City Energy Project - a 10-city initiative headed by NRDC and IMT to cut energy waste in large buildings. In February of this year, the Mayor issued an Executive Order as part of the City's Project Skyline, directing department leaders to develop energy-saving practices in all city buildings. And now, through the recognition of the Mayor's Skyline Challenge winners, the private sector is showing leadership on addressing the intersection of energy use and local air quality. It is clear that everyone needs to do their part to improve the city's air quality and ensuring a more livable, sustainable and resilient Salt Lake.

Improving efficiency in Salt Lake City's buildings would remove over 1 million pounds of pollutants, which is the equivalent to taking more than 32,000 cars off the roads for one year. Energy improvements would also avert approximately 650 million pounds of CO2 emissions from being emitted, conserve enough resources to power 37,000 homes each year, and save the City, local businesses, and residents an estimated $48 million in energy costs annually. Making large buildings more energy efficient leads to cleaner air, increases property values, curbs the effects of climate change, and promotes a strong economy. Through initiatives like Project Skyline and the Mayor's Skyline Challenge, the City is empowering property owners with the information on best practices including, benchmarking building energy use, engaging with that data to learn about building performance, retro-commissioning existing building equipment, and retrofitting spaces with improvements. Benchmarking alone has been shown to drive down energy use by 7 percent in three years based upon buildings that opt-in to a voluntary program. The key to improving Salt Lake City's energy efficiency and air quality going forward will be ensuring that leadership exhibited by the participants and winners of the Mayor's Skyline Challenge on energy efficiency permeate throughout all of the buildings in the city.

This blog post was co-written by Irene Burga, Legal Fellow with the City Energy Project.