The Salt Lake Valley, long recognized for its spectacular mountain views and abundant outdoor activities,
has in recent years earned a negative reputation for its air quality problems. During winter months, the valleys of Northern Utah consistently rank among the worst places in the United States for
air quality because of inversions that trap pollutants, including ozone and particulate matter (PM), close to the ground.1

Since the 1990s the University of Utah, spearheaded by Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities Management, has been working to reduce its permitted air emissions. In fact, the University has been a significant leader in air quality emission reduction efforts. Initiatives

in transportation, energy and building
efficiency, renewable energy, waste
reduction, and education have been
responsible for major reductions in both regulated and non-regulated emission categories. Large reductions in the emissions of criteria pollutants, or the air pollutants that contribute to locally unhealthy conditions, have been achieved.2

In spite of these ongoing emission-reduction efforts, the University of Utah, as one of the state’s largest employers, is often perceived as a significant contributor to pollutants through commuting, energy and natural gas use, and other operations. Although many major sources of poor air quality along the Wasatch Front are outside the control
of the University of Utah, many of the University’s activities and operations do contribute to this problem. In response to increasing awareness of the

Salt Lake Valley’s air quality problems, Vice President Arnold Combe and Senior Vice Presidents Vivian
Lee and Ruth Watkins organized the Air Quality
Task Force in 2013. The committee was tasked

with recommending strategies that will reduce emissions from the University of Utah and lessen the institution’s overall contribution to poor air quality events in the Salt Lake Valley.

This report is a compilation of recommendations from seven months of exploration and deliberation on short- to mid-term strategies that will reduce the University’s contribution to poor air quality events. The Task Force tackled topics both large and small that could help the University cut its emissions.

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