While the gift of snow hides the hot concrete of summers in Salt Lake City, I cannot forget driving around in the city this past August where it was hard not to notice two things. First the heat, and the heat waves reflecting off the concrete streets of downtown. Second, how green the lawns were at every car dealership, apartment building and hotel we drove past.
Having just driven through tree-lined but yellow and brown yards in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Utah, I felt as if I had traveled through two different cities, causing me to reflect:
For cities like Salt Lake City, suffering through severe drought and experiencing temperature increases 2-3 times faster than the national average, cooling the city must be a priority. But solving the temperature issue requires aggressive water and landscape conservation, as well as local and national climate legislation.
One solution is to grow more trees creating “shade havens.” Trees are proven to combat the high urban temperatures like we experience in Salt Lake City, where it is 3-5 degrees hotter in the summer compared to the suburbs. However, successfully growing trees requires water. Solving the temperature problem and the water shortages requires bipartisan support from our government leaders in coordination with local business leaders.
Let’s ask our government leaders to legislate solutions that help our business leaders to answer these questions: What can be done to recognize and incentivize the creation of shade havens in downtown Salt Lake to reduce temperatures and clean our air while conserving water? Can we look to other successful pilot programs that have already begun to create shade havens?
Let’s find government and business partnerships that benefit this great city we all love and share.