March 1, 2008

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Keepin' It Green

Business and Government Join in Caring for Mother Earth

Peri Kinder

March 1, 2008

Walk into the police station in Park City and you won’t the see cold, stark surroundings usually associated with municipal offices. Instead, the new 24,000-square-foot building reflects a warm design, incorporating wood, stone and brick accents. But the beauty doesn’t end there. Responding to environmental concerns, the Park City police station boasts eco-friendly features that are becoming more common in business and residential developments. Energy-efficient glass, low-volatile organic-compound paints, a heat-reflective roof and a geothermal heating system combine to create the most eco-friendly building in town. “This building was a product of the [Park City] City Council’s desire to promote green initiatives,” says Lloyd Evans, Park City Chief of Police. “Our city council has taken seriously the protection of resources. I think at some point you will see these features in many of the buildings here.” It might not be easy being green, but with global warming, energy-wasting practices and dwindling resources hitting the headlines, consumers expect engineers to take planning to the next level by integrating environmentally sensitive features into new – and existing – construction. Local businesses are jumping into the act, hoping to set a good example to employees and customers. Deer Valley Resort has incorporated eco-friendly practices for years, even before it became the politically correct thing to do. Julie Kallar, executive assistant to the president and unofficial green team coordinator at Deer Valley, says resort executives are constantly thinking of new, inventive ways to reduce environmental impact. “Deer Valley has been committed to the environment for a long time,” Kallar says. “It’s all about decreasing our carbon footprint on the earth and giving back as much as we’re taking.” The resort upgraded the heaters on ski lifts and put them on a timer to save power. Instead of running continuously, the heaters shut down often enough to save a significant amount of energy. Recycling at Deer Valley is a common practice, but new, more noticeable bins have been placed throughout the resort, making it an accessible practice for guests and employees. Offices at the resort recycle plastics, paper and cardboard boxes while restaurants have recycling bins to reduce the waste from aluminum cans and glass bottles. “It’s all about making it easy or people don’t do it,” Kallar says. “Our main goal is to get more involved. It’s been so encouraging to see how well it’s going.” Moab City has been at the forefront of the green revolution, becoming the first city in the nation to be designated an EPA Green Power Community. With nearly one million visitors each year, environmental protection is a main concern. Partnering with the Blue Sky program, city leaders encourage local businesses and individuals to purchase wind power as a renewable energy source. Today, more than 14 percent of business owners and residents purchase wind power, including Moab by Legion Paper. Moab by Legion Paper recently announced it had converted the local offices to be completely dependant on wind power for its energy source. Although energy costs at the facility have risen by 20 percent since the change, Greg Schern, president of Moab by Legion says the overall cost is insignificant. “That’s one of the beauties of alternative energy transitions,” Schern says. “They require a business to look at the overall picture and find new areas to make up the difference. Any time that process is done, a business not only improves its cost structure, but it tends to lead to new ideas and innovation across the spectrum of business activities.” Even new residential developments are adding green elements. Westgate Lofts, located in the heart of the Salt Lake City redevelopment district, is an ideal location for anyone wanting a downtown living experience with environmentally friendly features. Richard Gordon, owner of Westgate Lofts is excited about the project, especially the geothermal heating/cooling system that saves tenants up to 75 percent on their utility bills. The system uses ground water, not furnaces or air conditioners, to regulate the buildings’ temperature. “We don’t use a drop of water,” Gordon says. “Every drop we take up we put right back down. We just use the heat from the water.” Utah Governor John Huntsman has also endorsed environmental concerns by joining the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative. The State of Utah has a goal of improving energy efficiency by more than 20 percent by 2015. The Western Regional Climate Action proposal sets a regional goal to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in Utah as well as other states in the western region and Canada. Huntsman challenged government agencies throughout Utah to adopt ”green” practices and implemented many changes himself by applying energy-efficient practices in the Governor’s mansion and vehicles used by himself and his employees. As businesses adapt to the changing environmental society, leaders agree creative ideas and practices need to be implemented. “We need to continue to look outside the box and think of ways to reduce our [carbon] footprint,” Kallar says. “It’s just really the right thing to do.” 10 Ways To Promote Green Attitudes at Your Business 1. Provide bus and/or TRAX passes to employees to encourage the use of public transportation. 2. Place recycling bins throughout the facility for paper, glass and plastic. 3. Use video or teleconferencing instead of traveling to meetings. 4. Change light fixtures to use energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs. 5. Encourage employees to walk to lunch and support local merchants. 6. Purchase ENERGY STAR products when replacing office equipment or heating and ventilation units. 7. Purchase recycled paper products for copying and printing. 8. Install ceiling fans to circulate warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer. 9. Install automatic timers to ensure lights are turned off after business hours. 10. Lower thermostats to 68 degrees in the winter and raise the temperature to 72 degrees in the summer.
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