Salt Lake City, Utah

Population: 200,544

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and the state’s largest city, with just under 200,000 people and located in a metro area of more than 1.2 million. Salt Lake City is experiencing rapid growth as the city attracts new residents from throughout the Rocky Mountain region and across the United States. This presents both opportunities and challenges for Salt Lake City, which has long been a leader in environmental action and is committed to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Many of Salt Lake City’s efforts have focused on improving air quality while also reducing emissions. The city’s rapid growth and geography presents significant air quality challenges. In the winter, temperature inversions trap cold air underneath a layer of warm air, causing particulate pollution to rapidly increase. In the summer, pollution from cars and industry, combined with high temperatures and bright sunshine, can lead to harmful ozone levels. As a result, Salt Lake City has been unable to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act.

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To help counteract these issues, the City has moved forward with innovative new policies and programs, including investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, an anti-idling ordinance for vehicles, local solar installations, and passage of the Elevate Buildings ordinance to require annual energy benchmarking in large commercial buildings.

To continue its progress, Salt Lake City is now focusing on opportunities to reduce air pollution and emissions from the fossil fuels burned in its buildings. BEI is supporting the City in analyzing where there are cost-effective opportunities for electrifying heating and hot water end uses in both existing and new residential buildings and assessing local opportunities for scaling up these investments. These insights will allow the city to work closely with its local utilities and other stakeholders to develop strategies to remove barriers and encourage electrification in ways that both reduce costs to customers and help improve air quality for the whole region.