GCS 2017 Student Projects: Air Quality in the Salt Lake Valley

Air pollution in the Salt Lake Valley is a complex problem with no simple solution. Due to meteorological patterns and regional topography combined with a large human population, serious pollution levels in the wintertime can build thanks to cold pool effects. There is an intricate flow of cause and effect, with impacts large and small. The interactions are multi-faceted, as are the potential solutions.

Projects:

STEM After School Outreach Educational Modules

Living with bad air quality has tangible economic costs for all groups of people, but impacts lower income households disproportionately. Behavior changes to reduce energy usage in the Salt Lake Valley can decrease emissions in places that bear the weight of externalized air pollution

In the Salt Lake Valley, air pollution places a relatively larger health cost burden on economically underrepresented groups. This inequality hinders the path towards sustainability and encourages political apathy. However, when citizens do become engaged, they can incite large scale changes.

Read the report here.

Sustainability and New Building Construction at the University of Utah

Students reviewed the University’s green building policies and conducted two case studies of new buildings on campus, the S. J. Quinney Law building (opened September 2015) and the David Eccles School of Business Executive Education building (ground breaking January, 2017).

Read the report here.

Ridesharing with Zimride at the University of Utah

As transportation makes up more than half of pollutant source during winter time inversions in the Salt Lake Valley this project focused on non-single occupancy vehicle (SOV) options available to commuters. This assessment evaluated carpooling and specifically Zimride, a ride matching platform. The authors set out with the objective to complete a comprehensive assessment of the Zimride program at the University of Utah at the midpoint of a 3-year contract period. This evolved into a set of observations, evidence, and recommendations regarding alternative transportation more broadly.

Read the report here.