Redevelopment Agency Moves Needle on Mayor Mendenhall’s Air Quality Goals with New Sustainable Development Policy

Update will spur RDA-funded projects to incorporate sustainable building practices and technologies that reduce building-related climate emissions and local air pollution

SALT LAKE CITY – Effective immediately, new buildings funded by the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) will be more energy efficient, all-electric, and climate friendly in accordance with its Sustainable Development Policy adopted this week by the RDA Board of Directors. This bold policy stems from Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s ordinance requiring all Salt Lake City- and RDA-funded buildings to be emission-free by 2023. The RDA will now require all future buildings receiving financing be designed and built to be highly efficient and to operate without on-site fossil fuel combustion.  

“Reducing emissions from our buildings is vital to our air quality and climate. This new RDA policy is exactly the kind of common-sense actions that local governments can take to safeguard our communities’ health and wellbeing. I’m proud to see the RDA leading the way for Salt Lake City,” states Mayor Mendenhall.

“Given that buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of annual global greenhouse gasses, this RDA policy addressing how buildings in Salt Lake City are designed and constructed is tackling our local air quality issues directly at the source,” adds Salt Lake City Council Member and RDA Board Vice Chair Dan Dugan.  

Developed with technical assistance from local energy efficiency and clean energy advocacy organization Utah Clean Energy, the new policy raises threshold requirements for any new construction project receiving RDA resources (and any rehabilitation project receiving $200,000 or more) in three key ways: First, projects need to be designed to achieve a federal ENERGY STARscore of 90 or higher; Second, buildings must also be designed to operate without on-site fossil fuel combustion (i.e., no propane or natural gas); and Third, the projects need to participate in Salt Lake City’s energy benchmarking program, Elevate Buildings.

To achieve a higher level of sustainability, the policy also outlines additional net zero guidelines for projects utilizing specific RDA financing programs. The construction and rehabilitation of on- and off-site net zero energy buildings – where 100% of the building’s electricity usage is supplied by renewable energy – are either required or incentivized, depending on the source of the RDA funding being sought. 

“Committing to make new buildings energy efficient and fossil-fuel free is just what the doctor ordered – literally – this will improve our air quality and promote improved public health for years to come,” states Kevin Emerson, Director of Building Efficiency and Decarbonization, Utah Clean Energy. “Net zero buildings are critical to addressing climate change and these incentives will spur designers, contractors, and developers to go net zero wherever possible.” 

The policy’s technical assistance from Utah Clean Energy was funded through a financial grant from UCAIR, a statewide clean air organization. Additional input on the policy was received from local stakeholders, including design professionals, developers, contractors, housing advocates, and Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department. 

“Empowering the development community to implement clean air strategies will dramatically reduce or eliminate building-related air emissions. The goal of the UCAIR Grants Program is to reduce emissions of criteria pollutants that cause Utah’s poor air quality and the RDA’s new requirements will do just that,” said Kim Frost, UCAIR Executive Director.

The full policy and an abbreviated version have been posted to www.slcrda.com

About the RDA

The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) strengthens neighborhoods and business districts to improve livability, create economic opportunity, and foster authentic, equitable communities. It serves as a catalyst for strategic development projects that enhance the City’s housing opportunities, commercial vitality, public spaces, and environmental sustainability. 

About Utah Clean Energy

Utah Clean Energy is a non-profit, public interest organization working to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency in a way that is beneficial not only to Utah’s environment and health, but also to its economy and long-term energy security. For more information about Utah Clean Energy, go to www.utahcleanenergy.org.

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Media Contacts:

Amanda Greenland, amanda.greenland@slcgov.com, Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City

Kevin Emerson, kevin@utahcleanenergy.org, Utah Clean Energy, 801-608-0850

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