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The partnership is developing regulatory best practices as a model for cities and counties to work toward. As a result, Park City and Summit County have already adopted an expedited solar permitting process and reduced their fees. Other communities have trained specific personnel as solar permitting gurus to expedite the process.
Wasatch Solar Challenge created a website, solarsimplified.org, to provide information and tools for governments, contractors and consumers. It also organized solar bulk purchase programs in Salt Lake and Summit counties, which resulted in discounts of up to 40 percent, says Baldwin.
Salt Lake Community College
At Salt Lake Community College, students, faculty and staff equally recognize the opportunity and the obligation to be good environmental stewards.
The college has engaged in a comprehensive sustainability campaign, including a college-wide recycling program that will reach one million pounds of recycled materials in 2013, community gardens at various campuses, clean natural gas operations in grounds and facilities, LEED-certified buildings at the Jordan campus and the new instruction and administration building at the Taylorsville-Redwood campus, and a Green Academy, which is an academic entity that houses numerous programs in alternative and renewable energy fields.
Courses in the Green Academy provide students with the knowledge and skills to prepare them for emerging opportunities in green technologies. SLCC instructors teach both the ideas relating to responsible environmental stewardship and the practical skills needed to perform the work of making communities sustainable.
“SLCC strives to be a leader in sustainability and the responsible stewardship of resources in everything it does and in what it teaches,” says Dave Jones, marketing manager. “The college has set its sights on providing education and training that equips students with the understanding and skills to perform jobs that will promote a sustainable future and with an ethos of stewardship.”
Waste Management pioneered new recycling processes in Utah, making recycling easier for residents and businesses alike. Recycling used to require consumers to sort various items into different bins and, often, take those bins to recycling drop-off locations. Waste Management opened the first single-stream processing facility in Utah, which allows people to place all of their recycling in one bin for pickup.
Waste Management now processes 40,000 tons of material for recycling each year in the state. And the vast majority of that material—more than 80 percent—truly is recycled, says Lance Allen, manager of public sector solutions for Waste Management’s Four Corners region. And any non-recyclable material that ends up at the facility is typically used as fuel for local cement kilns like Geocycle, replacing the coal that would otherwise be used.
The company also operates one of the largest fleets of compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks in the state, thanks to an innovative partnership with West Valley City. “That was the contract that allowed us to bring the trucks to Utah,” says Allen. Waste Management now operates more than 20 CNG trucks in the state, and it also provides a public fueling station for businesses and residents who own CNG vehicles.
Energy Commercialization Center
The Energy Commercialization Center was created at the University of Utah in 2010 with the help of a three-year Department of Energy grant. The center was intended to serve as a catalyst for the creation of clean energy companies, which often struggle to gain traction.
“Venture capital doesn’t do a ton of investing in clean tech,” says Robert Bell, executive director of the center. He notes that clean tech often involves intensive and expensive research, as well as extended roll-out timeframes.
Now, at the end of the Department of Energy grant, the center is pivoting to redefine its mission. “We’re a startup helping startups,” laughs Bell. The center will focus on helping innovators with existing clean technologies build solid business plans. “There’s some really great stuff that people are doing right now, today,” he says.
Earlier this year, the center hosted a regional conference focused on building collaboration between investors, entrepreneurs and developers of sustainable energy technologies in the Rocky Mountain West. The conference brought together 160 people from 15 states.
This fall, the center launched its Sustainable Startups Series—seminars that feature innovators and entrepreneurs who discuss their efforts, challenges and successes.
Moving forward under the Sustainable Startups name, the organization is developing co-working space for clean tech entrepreneurs at the Artspace Commons in Salt Lake. Sustainable Startups will also collaborate with the U’s entrepreneurial program, The Foundry, says Bell, who hopes to launch a Sustainable Startups business plan competition in the near future.