All Utahns have a personal stake in improving our air quality. In fact, according to a Utah Foundation Survey, air quality is the #2 most important issue for voters in Utah, and the #1 most important issue for voters along Wasatch Front.
We are all looking for ways to help improve our air. When you consider the fact that restaurants, stores, homes and large commercial buildings contribute nearly 40% of the local air pollution on a typical winter day, making our building stock more efficient presents an affordable strategy to help improve air quality. For example, commercial buildings across the Wasatch Front emit an estimated 6 tons of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) per day on a typical winter day. Innovative strategies to increase the energy efficiency of large buildings can help reduce pollution and also cut energy costs significantly.
To seize this opportunity, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski recently unveiled a market-based city ordinance to reduce energy waste and pollution from Salt Lake City’s large commercial buildings. The ordinance would eliminate 99 tons of NOx emissions per year.
Market-Based Solutions: Benchmarking and Energy Tune Ups
The proposed ordinance works by creating market competition for energy efficient commercial buildings. First, buildings over 25,000 square feet would measure their energy usage (called “benchmarking”) and report data back to the City on an annual basis. Benchmarking is free and now automated by Rocky Mountain Power! Tenants and building owners would be able to access building energy scores to better understand which buildings are more energy efficient. From there, buildings with lower scores will receive targeted assistance to improve their energy performance and complete “energy tune ups” to cut their energy waste and reduce costs.
The financial benefits of this market-based policy are substantial:
- Businesses would save $9 million in energy costs annually every year through benchmarking alone, and
- Building owners that conduct energy tune-ups every five years, they would save an additional $18 million in annual energy costs.
Salt Lake City’s proposal is good for our air quality and our economy. It is a thoughtful and proven strategy based on experience from 22 other cities across the U.S. that will put money back into our community, clean our air and improve Salt Lake City’s largest building stock. Thank you Salt Lake City for your leadership!
Recent news about the City’s proposal:
Salt Lake Tribune Guest Editorial
My view: Investing in Salt Lake City's future
Deseret News Guest Editorial
A. Scott Anderson: Is your building part of the pollution problem? Time to find out
Utah lawmakers consider clean air proposals as inversion settles in Wasatch Front
Biskupski Pitches Ordinance Tracking Energy Use In Large Buildings
Biskupski proposes new energy efficiency and air quality ordinance