The Salt Lake Chamber is launching a program to help Utah businesses enhance their commitment to clean air and benefit their bottom lines. Businesses can become Clean Air Champions by enrolling in the program at www.cleanairchampion.com and indicating practices already in place or by implementing new Clean Air programs.
“Many businesses across the state already do a lot to preserve our clean air,” said Jonathan Johnson, president of Overstock.com and chair of the Chamber’s Clean Air Task Force. “For those that want to do more than they’re doing now, this program provides motivation and recognition and it helps them see what actions other businesses have found to be most effective.”
The Clean Air Champion program is a private sector approach to motivate Utah businesses to make decisions that improve our air quality and strengthen our economy. Poor air quality hinders corporate relocation efforts, places additional regulatory burdens on business, increases health care costs and places Utah’s federal highway funding at risk. The Business community can make a difference.
“Clean air is a business issue,” said Kelly Sanders, president and CEO of Kennecott Utah Copper. “It’s very easy to look at our air quality and say it is someone else’s problem, but the business community needs to be involved in formulating and implementing the solution. We’re proud to be a Clean Air Champion and we hope other Utah businesses will join us.”
A call to action
The Clean Air Champion website serves as a reference point for best practices and encourages businesses to get involved. By implementing three of the eight suggested practices or by coming up with an original or industry-specific approach, a business can earn the distinction of Clean Air Champion.
Suggested Clean Air best practices include:
1. Utilizing teleworking options for employees and corporate meetings
2. Operating or converting to a clean air fleet consisting of either natural gas, electric, hybrid, alternative fuels or cleaner burning gasoline vehicles
3. Offering/subsidizing transit passes for employees
4. Operating a carpool/vanpool program for employees
5. Encouraging employees to use alternative modes of transportation on Red Air Days
6. Encouraging employees to use active transportation, such as walking and biking
7. Establishing a TravelWise integration plan
8. Participating annually in the Clear the Air Challenge
Leading by example
As Utah’s business leader, the Chamber is also determined to set a good example. The Chamber offers UTA transit passes to employees at no cost and one-in-four employees uses alternative transportation methods on a daily basis. Employees receive notifications on Red Air Days and are encouraged to use alternative forms of transportation. Directions to events and meetings include public transit options, as well.
The Chamber also operates as a Salt Lake City recognized E2 Business, emphasizing conservation and recycling programs. The Chamber’s strategic partner, the Downtown Alliance, is also working on a Bike Share program. The Chamber is an annual participant in the Clear the Air Challenge.
Several Utah businesses have already been named Clean Air Champions. These businesses are demonstrating a commitment to environmental stewardship while reaping the financial benefits.
Kennecott Utah Copper has installed an idling management system in its light and medium vehicles. The system reports any vehicle idling more than two minutes. Since implementing the system three years ago, Kennecott Utah Copper has saved more than $5.3 million.
Hale Centre Theatre converted its vehicle fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, installed a fueling station and now provides CNG to employees at no cost. The program has resulted in annual savings of $5,000 per fleet vehicle.
Waste Management is in the process of converting its garbage collection fleet to CNG. Additionally, it has converted its truck maintenance shop for lighter-than-air fuels and is installing a public CNG fueling station. The organization expects to save approximately $16,000 per truck.
A history of clean air
Clean air is not a new issue to the Chamber. In the early Twentieth Century, the Salt Lake valley was powered and heated by burning coal. Trains, smelters and manufacturing plants all ran on locally-mined coal, covering the city in a layer of soot.
The 125 year old Salt Lake Chamber began its fight against smoke early, almost from its founding. In 1914, the Chamber recommended Salt Lake City hire a smoke inspector and in 1920 the Chamber supported educational efforts to help coal-burners understand better technology, and to help businesses remodel their plants. The City in turn passed smoke-control ordinances, set up monitoring programs, and began seeking out violators. Smoke inspectors roamed the city or watched from atop the Walker Bank building by day, and at night searchlights played on smokestacks to catch violators.
The Chamber even provided an airplane to help the city in its smoke inspection program during the winter. It made observation trips in the morning to help determine the origin and movement of smoke, and also helped spot violators.