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Climate Change Adaptation Resource Center (ARC-X)

Salt Lake City, Utah Adapts to Improve Air Quality Through Smart Growth

Green BikeSalt Lake City’s GREENbike bike share program.In 2014, Salt Lake City was designated a Climate Action Champion Community for their leadership in reducing emissions and increasing climate resilience and adaptation to air quality concerns from climate change. The Sustainable Salt Lake Plan 2015 articulates the city’s broad and ambitious agenda to protect its resources, enhance its assets, and establish a path towards greater community resiliency. The plan set goals to improve air quality, protect community health, and reduce particulate matter (PM) and ozone pollution (which are both projected to be exacerbated by climate change). The city adopted specific transportation measures to decrease miles traveled, reduce vehicle idling, and promote alternatives. These clean air strategies reduce current air pollution (mitigation) that is expected to be exacerbated by climate change (adaptation).

While continuing to address air quality issues, Salt Lake City is now formulating a vulnerability assessment and adaptation plan. The Salt Lake City Climate Response Plan is expected to include: a climate vulnerability assessment, a greenhouse gas mitigation plan, and an adaptation plan. This comprehensive approach to climate adaptation builds off of previous adaptation efforts to better help the city anticipate, plan and prepare to take action to protect residents from future public health and air quality concerns.

How Did They Do It? Applicable EPA Tools
Salt Lake City identified air quality as a critical vulnerability
  • Salt Lake City identified air quality as an immediate problem, and one that is likely to be exacerbated by climate change.
  • Salt Lake increased city department’s adaptive capacity through training staff in a Climate Leaders program to better understand how climate change will affect their department’s mission.
  • Salt Lake City created a Climate Dashboard to track progress and provide up-to-date information on accomplishments to the public.
  • Salt Lake City is currently completing their vulnerability assessment of climate impacts to every city department.
  • To develop its pending Climate Response Plan, Salt Lake City convened an internal (city government) steering committee to assess risks and vulnerabilities and received input from all city departments.

EPA’s Community-Based Climate Adaptation Handout helps communities identify how local government services may be vulnerable to changing climate conditions.

Community-Based Climate Adaptation Handout

Salt Lake City prioritized adaptation actions that provide co-benefits
  • Salt Lake City knew even before completing an adaptation plan that reducing vehicle emissions, upgrading municipal fleets, and encouraging comprehensive regional transportation programs would both reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and benefit public health by reducing air pollution that will be exacerbated due to a changing climate.
  • Salt Lake City has also participated in mitigation measures through an EPA funded program called Climate Showcase Communities.

EPA’s smart growth program provides resources on how communities can implement smart growth strategies that provide co-benefits to air, water and public health.

EPA's Smart Growth Program

Similar Cases and More Information

To read more about Salt Lake City's efforts to reduce transportation related air emissions, see the EPA's Sustainable Transportation for a Sustainable Future Page. Salt Lake City implemented air quality actions which also provided mutual benefits as climate mitigation activities. For an example of other strategy that can provide co-benefits, see how Chicago used Green Infrastructure to Reduce Extreme Heat. If you would like to know more information about how climate change will affect Air Quality and Human Health view the ARC Homepage.


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