Luke Cartin - Environmental Sustainability Manager at Park City, Utah

Luke Cartin - Environmental Sustainability Manager at Park City, Utah

Luke Cartin is the Environmental Sustainability Manager for Park City, Utah.  He oversees Park City’s goals of achieving net-zero carbon and 100% renewable electricity for city operations by 2022, and community-wide 2032. These goals are the most ambitious in North America for any municipality, and one of the most aspiring world-wide. There are many programs underway, including; electrification of city fleet and buses, bringing on large scale renewables, quantifying open space as carbon sinks, and pursuing net-zero energy buildings.  Previous to coming to the city, he worked in ski resort sustainability for 15 years. His work has been featured in the New York Times, BBC, Outside Magazine, Newsweek, and other international outlets. He lives with his wife, two kids, and many animals just outside Park City. 

Luke Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • Setting ambitious renewable energy and carbon neutral goals

  • Climate change impacts on the ski industry and tourism

  • Engaging local farmers in regenerative agriculture

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

I would say there's two ways to view the climate crisis, and then also sustainability overall. View as like you're learning a chest match, meaning the only way you're going to get better is by playing and doing. Failure will be an asset to you because you will quickly understand what does not work. And I know folks are scared to fail, but we need to act and you have the silent majority. So the goal is to really focus on trying and doing. Don't put up barriers to say, "well our community can't do that because of this or that." Set these ambitious goals and that'll force you to create the pathway forward.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability and regenerative development?

I think it's how quickly things can change once the pathway forward is shown. When we set our 100 percent renewable electricity goal, people thought we were nuts. I mean other communities were like, "what are you guys doing? You're in a state with a regulated utility that's owned by Berkshire Hathaway." But the great thing is the pathway forwards have been created and it seems daunting to get a community that's mostly coal fired to carbon neutrality and hundred percent renewable in 14 years. But the great thing is we've identified major pathways to get there and it's really exciting to be a player in that.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

I'll throw two at you here. So one of them is called The One Straw Revolution. It's a great book because the concept is that there's limits to the human knowledge, but it's using natural systems aligned with your goal. It's the exact same concept we're going with some of the regenerative agriculture pieces in that we just want to help kind of steer in the right direction and make sure we're not doing harm, and it's impressive how the natural environment can help increase that. The other interesting book that I really suggest is 10 Percent happier by Dan Harris. You can get very depressed by seeing all of the horrible things going on and you need to balance yourself out. So 10 Percent Happier by Dan Harris is a great book because it talks about meditation. Just kind of keeping your head on your shoulders. It gives you some really easy techniques to keep yourself balanced. Because I think in this role you're under constant attack.

I think we'd all be okay with being 10 percent happier. That sounds great. What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in the work that you do?

One of the tools, and you mentioned it for other communities that are interested in this world, even if you don't have a fully dedicated sustainability person, which I would heavily push any community to have because like I said, they can problem solve for your folks. They can help find savings. There something called the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and it's open to sustainability professionals in municipalities and it is a great resource. I know you've interviewed like Gil and a couple of their folks too. It's an awesome community to say, "Hey, who's tried a community composting program?" And you can dive in. "Who's written an RFP for solar on a library?" It's an awesome resource. The other part for my end that's interesting read, there's a great website out there called Utility Dive. It wraps up what's going on in the utility sphere, because there are some pro-coal pieces going on and there's nuclear subsidies or something like that. This gets a little bit more technical and it's great for me to help understand the broad swaths of what's going on in the regulatory market and also what's happening with the energy sphere overall in North America.

And finally, where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at Park City?

So we have the city website, We're actually underway right now to launch another website that'll sum up all of these pieces. So stay tuned for that. Easy way to track me down, just find me through the website or through LinkedIn.