Salt Lake City residents know that during a bad day in January the muck in the air can be so bad, it's almost like you can't breathe.
So, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce put a plan into action that recognizes area businesses that help clean up the putrid smog.
The chamber was recognized as one of 10 in the U.S. by the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy for creating initiatives that help drive business development. The list of chambers are profiled in a new report, Local Chambers as Change Agents: Creating Economic Vitality through Clean Energy and Innovation, released Tuesday night.
"By helping businesses achieve millions of dollars in savings per year, the Clean Air Champions program is improving not only the economic well-being of the region, but also the quality of life in Salt Lake City," the study stated. The Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy is a network of local chambers of commerce that promotes clean energy for its member cities.
Salt Lake City was singled out for its "Clean Air Champions" program, which recognizes companies for using clean energy and fuel alternatives to help reduce potentially deadly emissions.
The chamber works with businesses to help them figure out ways to use cleaner energy in their operations. It also uses billboard and radio advertising to promote the initiative. The organization also started a website at cleanairchampion.com that offers help and tools for companies looking to save money and fuel costs, and promotes them. The chamber also has reached out to officials statewide to help create similar programs.
Among those profiled in the study were Rio Tinto, which saved more than $1.6 million a year for a no-idling truck policy; and UPS, which has saved 10 million gallons of fuel since 2004 by using more-efficient routes for its trucks.
"We want to recognize those companies that do [implement clean-air solutions], but we really want to encourage others to look at these examples as things they can implement in their own businesses," said Ryan Evans, vice president of business and community relations for the Salt Lake Chamber.
So far, local businesses have been very motivated to participate in the program, he said. "Hands down this is bringing much more awareness to clean air and how businesses can be a part of that solution."
Other cities profiled in the study include Cleveland, which has created an energy-efficiency program for the private sector; Asheville, N.C., which created a transportation and shipping network for local businesses to cut down on fuel costs; North Myrtle Beach, S.C., for creating a wind-energy demonstration site; and Austin, Texas, which has been focusing on recruiting clean-tech companies.
The rest of the chambers recognized in the report are Merrimack Valley, Mass.; Chicago; Bartlett, Tenn.; Flint, Mich.; and San Francisco.