November 26, 2013

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Article

Utah DEQ’s Business Assistance Program Promotes Sustainable Practices

By Rachel Madison

November 26, 2013

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has an ongoing effort to promote sustainable practices to Utah businesses across the state through a federally funded grant and Business Assistance Program.

Environmental Scientist Frances Bernards oversees the DEQ’s Business Assistance Program. She said her department is funded through a federal Pollution Prevention Grant, which averages around $200,000 annually. The DEQ applies for the grant each year, competing against other states in the region, and is awarded monies based on emission reductions achieved through efforts from the previous year.

“The grant is meant for Utah businesses to help them reduce their environmental impact,” Bernards said. “We emphasize minimizing waste at the source. This can be as simple as adopting an idle-free program or as complex as changing your process so you’re not creating pollution and passing it on down the line.”

Currently, Bernards said she is promoting the use of technology to reduce air emissions to oil and gas companies.

“We’ve purchased an infrared camera, which helps us see emissions not visible to the human eye,” she said. “We can see leaks that show up as a puff of smoke and that’s been a great tool. I meet with several companies and run the camera. If they aren’t familiar with the technology, they get a chance to see what it can do first hand. So far, three companies are purchasing their own cameras. It’s worth their time and investment because it can reduce product loss. It’s cost effective and makes a safer environment for their employees.”

Although the DEQ is the body that determines which companies receive its grant monies, Bernards said any Utah business is welcome to talk to the DEQ about potential funding.

“We can always try to help fund their projects or give assistance,” she said.

The biggest way the DEQ gives assistance to Utah companies is through its Business Assistance Program, which is an online resource that provides companies with information on improving their long-term environmental performance, increasing regulatory compliance and obtaining required environmental permits.

“A lot of businesses are interested in environmental improvement projects, but not every business has the luxury of having an engineer or scientist on staff,” Bernards said. “What we try to do is keep it as easy as possible for businesses that want to create a green team or take on environmental improvement projects. They can feel confidence doing so without having an expert leading the effort.”

Bernards said the program, although small, provides businesses with fact sheets, a guide on how to create a green team, and links to spreadsheets that can be used to quantify a company’s environmental impact.

In addition, the program provides examples, or case studies, from other Utah companies that can give businesses inspiration or ideas on types of projects to adopt. Some of the companies used as case studies include 3form, AutoLiv, Intermountain Healthcare and Orbit Irrigation.

“Ultimately, we try to make it as unintimidating as possible for companies to adopt environmental improvement projects,” Bernards said.

For more information about the Business Assistance Program, visit www.deq.bizhelp.utah.gov

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