Green Business

By Adva Biton, Lisa Christensen and Aisley Oliphant | Illustration by Mike Bohman

November 10, 2015

The results of the research about commuting, energy use, exterior equipment, and landscaping and interior sources (like printing chemicals and cleaning products) was completed earlier this year, and the university has begun the long process of implementing the report’s recommendations. Among the changes are more efficient boilers—an $800,000 investment projected to save $17 million over 40 years.

The university has also partnered with the Associated Students of the U of U to form the U Community Solar Program, where more than 380 households in Salt Lake, Summit and Davis counties installed clean and renewable solar photovoltaic panels. The panels are projected to produce energy equivalent to saving almost 275 rail cars worth of coal from being burned over their lifetime.

Current and near-future projects for the university include more efficient university vehicles and implementing a rideshare program, as well as further expanding the solar program in 2016.

Sustainable Building & Design

Envision Engineering

Envision Engineering, an electrical engineering and lighting design firm, tailors each of its projects to its customer. This, coupled with the firm’s commitment to conservation, means that the designers often have to get creative, says Jeffery R. Owen, principal at Envision Engineering.

“We have basic principles that we adhere to regarding our designs, and letting the owner get the best design they can in regards to sustainability,” says Owen. “For me, it’s kind of a game. I want, in every project that we do, for us to push the envelope on how we use energy.”

The company’s sustainability projects include helping Davis School District’s Odyssey Elementary  reach its goal of being a “net-zero” school—that is, making the facility generate all of its own electricity. The school has a photovoltaic array on its roof generating electricity, LED lighting, occupancy sensors that turn off lights when the rooms are detected as empty, among other things. Owen says the collaborative effort between engineers and architects is what makes the process run.

“Sustainability is never a single effort,” says Owen. “It’s a combined effort from the mechanical engineers and the electrical engineers. There are so many players involved in great ideas.”

Hamlet Homes

Thinking about the people who will live in their houses for decades to come motivates Hamlet Homes to build them as earth- and health-friendly as possible.

Among their efforts to make their houses green are installing high-efficiency furnaces, using 2x6 walls for greater insulation, and offering some recycled flooring choices, says Phil Mosher, marketing manager for Hamlet Homes.

The roofs are also designed to be solar-ready, helping make the process of going a little off the grid easier for interested homeowners, he says. In addition, the homes are built with a plastic barrier and a ventilation pipe from the foundation through the roof to keep the air inside free of radon, a naturally occurring vapor.

Mosher says the measures help make sure the houses Hamlet is building make for as healthy an environment as possible for both the residents and the planet.

“You want to think of the health of the people who will be living in your home and also the offspring of all of us in the future,” he says. “You want to use products that you could feel safe of any one of your family members living in the house. We only have one earth.”

Waste and Recycling

Republic Services

Republic Services of Utah believes the best way to encourage “green” practices is through taking action and teaching sustainable habits.

“We definitely try to be a partner with our customers and the community as a whole through the importance of recycling,” says Tracy Skenandore, director of public relations and communications at Republic Services. The company has gone to great lengths to educate the community in sustainable practices.

“We have a community outreach where we do that education, as well as bring a truck to an elementary school and talk to them about how it works and the impact it has on the environment,” says Dave Price, general manager of Republic Services.

“Education is very important at a young age to get them used to it and encouraging their parents to do it.”

Working with the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, Republic Services gives money back to the school system with each load of trash it takes to its landfills. It also partners with the Utah Jazz and the Salt Lake Bees to help promote awareness and excitement for recycling in the community.

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