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Millcreek Journal

Millcreek updates 2022 sustainability priorities in interlocal agreement

Sep 04, 2022 10:27AM ● By Sara Milano

By Sara Milano | [email protected]

The Millcreek City Council convened with Cottonwood Heights Sustainability Analyst and Associate Planner Samantha DeSeelhorst during their July 26 work meeting for an update on the Interlocal Sustainability Action Plan. Millcreek adopted the initiative in 2021 as a cooperative agreement with Cottonwood Heights and Holladay to establish a document to “make regular recommendations on specific sustainability priorities for each community.”

Priorities for 2022 have been updated and 10 major projects and objectives have been identified for the cities. The priorities can be largely understood as belonging to six main categories: energy, landscaping, development, transportation, waste management and community outreach.

The energy priorities for Millcreek, Holladay and Cottonwood Heights include continued participation in the Utah Community Renewable Energy Program, a piece of 2019 state legislation that “allows eligible local governments to procure net-100% renewable electricity by 2030 on behalf of their residents and businesses.” The other energy initiative outlines goals for installing more electric vehicle charging stations around the cities.

The landscaping section of the plan deals primarily with water conservation. Despite persistent drought, Utah has the second highest per-capita water use in the United States, second only to California. More than three quarters of Utah’s water use goes toward irrigation of commercial crops and agriculture. The Action Plan creates incentives for residents to move toward xeriscaping in yards and away from traditional grass. Millcreek City hopes to set an example for its residents by introducing “water-wise design” to its parks and public spaces.

Development priorities outlined in the Action Plan deal mainly with construction and materials in the new Millcreek Commons plaza. The document “encourages the use of quality construction techniques and durable materials, including recycled and sustainably-sourced materials when feasible.” The plaza and new city hall building present an opportunity to model sustainable development for future construction projects in Millcreek and beyond.

As the Salt Lake valley gears up for a new era of pervasive poor air quality, the Action Plan recommends instituting a telecommuting policy to “encourage remote work on poor air quality days.” The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that many businesses can adapt to remote work, and new environmental challenges may also force workers to shift away from commuting and in-person work. The city is also considering transitioning its fleet vehicles to electric or hybrid alternatives and centering “active transportation” methods. Active transportation includes walking, cycling, scooters and more and is facilitated by making sidewalks and bike lanes more accessible.

Waste management efforts include hosting community recycling events for items that cannot be processed by curbside disposal service. The Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District also holds an event for such materials every fall.

The final and critically important category discussed in the Sustainability Action Plan is community outreach. Often missing from most discussions of sustainability is a way to educate and engage the community, members of which often want to be involved in sustainability efforts but do not know how. The document notes how “daunting, obtuse and overwhelming” the topic of sustainability can be for some, but ultimately recognizes that plans which engage the community are more effective than those that do not. Millcreek’s quality of life is increased exponentially by its access to natural spaces, and the community’s imperative to protect these beautiful places is not just a moral one, but biological as well.