A Green Economy

Utah Companies and Industries on the Forefront of the Green Revolution

Peri Kinder

March 1, 2011

Based on criteria including long-term capital investment, job creation and financial stability, companies can receive a post-performance, refundable tax credit for up to 100 percent of new state tax revenues for the life of the project.

Another important program is the Utah Generated Renewable Energy Electricity Network (UGREEN), which is a bonding authority that supports the development of renewable energy transmission projects.

“Renewable energy projects are constrained by the ability to transmit that energy, to connect to the grid,” explains UGREEN Special Advisor Yashoda Khandkar. UGREEN helps companies finance that necessary infrastructure.

Green by Design

But it’s not just renewable energy companies bringing their projects to Utah. Procter & Gamble, for example, recently opened a $300 million plant in Box Elder County. P&G started instigating “green” policies and products more than 20 years ago, long before it was the thing to do, and the Box Elder County plant is consistent with P&G’s vision for sustainability.

 “We designed this from the very beginning to be the most sustainable operation we can make happen,” says Julio Nemeth, vice president of supply in P&G’s family care business. The building incorporates solar panels and other energy-saving and sustainability measures to reduce energy and water consumption and waste. P&G is dedicated to environmental awareness, not as a marketing device, but as an everyday way of doing business. P&G asserts that all its products are good for the environment; there is no separate “green” line of products, like many other companies offer.

 “Large and small companies want to use renewable power and are building to energy-efficiency standards,” says Julian. “By generating their own renewable power, companies are conscientious about both the price of power and the source as well.”

With its Daybreak development, Rio Tinto, the parent company of Kennecott Land and Copper, is creating a 4,200-acre residential and commercial community that has become a model for sustainable development. Daybreak was designed to provide walkability, multiple transportation options, and energy efficient homes and landscapes. Many of the commercial buildings, including the Rio Tinto Regional Center, are LEED certified green buildings. Furthermore, every home at Daybreak is Energy Star certified.

The homebuilders have taken advantage of the Daybreak philosophy to take their sustainable building practices to the next level, and they often incorporate solar power and other energy- and water-efficient technologies into home designs.

“We’ve been able to be a leader in sustainable development because of Rio Tinto,” says Don Whyte, president of Kennecott Land. “We started off with ownership that was committed to this from the start. There wasn’t a person in the business who didn’t understand the importance of sustainability.”

Daybreak was recently honored by the the National Association of Home Builders with the 2010 Best in American Living Platinum Award for aSuburban Smart Growth Community” and “Community of the Year.”

A Tech Approach

By providing a skilled workforce, exceptional incentives and the entrepreneurial spirit Utah is known for, the State is hoping to grow and attract green companies of every variety. With its leadership in the technology industry, Utah working to foster companies that are developing solutions for living green. A wide variety of companies are coming on line. For example, there are technologies that help homeowners track and reduce their energy consumption in real-time and firms that are working on hybrid technologies for commercial diesel-engine vehicles to make them more energy efficient and reduce emissions.

“This is a nascent industry and one that Utah is trying to grow within the state,” says Eccles. “Utah will be moving to the forefront in the next decade.”

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