Salt Lake City School District Commits to Carbon Neutrality by 2040 With Sustainability Action Plan

One of Utah’s ten largest districts, the Salt Lake City School District (SLCSD) is comprised of 40 elementary, middle and high schools, three charter schools and is home to over 20,500 students. At an SLCSD board of education meeting in 2020, a group of students from three of the district’s high schools proposed a Sustainability Resolution with two primary tenets: 100% electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% of district operations reach carbon-neutral status by 2040.  

Following the creation of a task force and comprehensive action plan, what would come to be known as the SLCSD Sustainability Action Plan was unanimously adopted by the board and serves as the district’s guiding light and initial effort toward carbon neutrality. The district’s urgency to reach carbon neutrality and positively impact the built environment is shared by McKinstry in our Action for Impact efforts. 

McKinstry was selected as SLCSD’s partner because of our unique approach to developing high-performing and energy efficient buildings and our willingness to stand behind our work by guaranteeing energy and cost savings. The Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) provided the district with a cost-neutral solution to achieve optimal learning environments for their students and plan for resilient and sustainable operations.  

During a celebratory crane pick event at Whittier Elementary School, executive director of Auxiliary Services, Paul Schulte, shared, “We’ve emphasized the savings and the decrease in carbon footprint by 44,000 metric tons but it is very important to highlight not just the sustainability efforts but more importantly, the impact this project has on instruction and the capacity for teachers to adjust the lighting in a way that best facilitates increased learning.”  

Phase one of the project was completed in the fall of 2023. The district-wide Sustainability Action Plan project implemented a multitude of services, including McKinstry-designed LED retrofits at all 41 district buildings, the electrification of two elementary schools, 1MW of solar power installations at six schools, the implementation of powerED programs across the entire district and comprehensive Building Controls Optimization.  

McKinstry is honored to partner with the district on its Sustainability Action Plan project to transform learning spaces into healthy, productive environments for students and staff. These initial accomplishments are a significant leap forward for the district in meeting its 2040 goal. The completed project will yield a 30% reduction in carbon emissions, $1.3 million in utility costs savings and a water consumption reduction of 11 million gallons annually.  


Salt Lake City, UT

Carbon Savings

44,000 metric tons annually



Number of Buildings


Services Provided:

Transition to Sustainable Operations (TSO) 

Solar photovoltaics (PV) 

Master Systems Integration (MSI) 

Electrical and Technologies