Local Environmental Quality 

What We Found

Overall for all Utahans participating in the Utah Wellbeing Survey, Local Environmental Quality was of high importance, but rated lower than average, thus suggesting it could be a key focal area for improvements.


electric car charging

What it is

Local environmental quality refers to the health of a community’s surrounding environment and can include many factors, such as air and water quality.

Why it matters

The natural environment does more than provide us with the materials we need to lead successful lives. The quality of a community's local environmental can directly impact physical health, mental health, and overall life expectancy. For example, research has shown that poor air quality can lead to respiratory issues, cancers, and early death.

What you can do

Although threats from issues like climate change and water pollution will require national efforts, multiple steps can be taken to directly improve the environmental health of your community. We recommend that communities focus on strategies to address (1) biodiversity, (2) air quality, and (3) water quality and supply. Below you can find a list of targeted resources to learn more about environmental quality and ways to improve it in your community.

Resources and Links

Click the title of the resource or the associated image to be taken to the referenced link. The icons below indicate if a resource is geared toward community leaders or individuals.

Community Focus | Individual Focus

city with buildings and trains

Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities: The Power of Nature-based Solutions

The United Nations Environment Program advocates for and provides resources related to sustainable development and environmental health. They promote nature-based solutions, which are actions taken to restore or maintain altered ecosystems to help solve both social and environmental issues in and around cities. The link above takes you to their Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities guide, which provides valuable information and strategies for decision-makers who are interested in learning more about and utilizing nature-based solutions.

Link addresses the following recommendations: biodiversity, air quality, and water quality 

clipart of city roads and building from above

Smart Growth in Small Towns and Rural Communities

Recognizing that many rural areas are changing and that such changes can impact wellbeing, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a list of resources to assist with and spread information about “smart growth” strategies in communities. Smart growth can include economic revitalization strategies, policies that protect the local environment, and more. The link above takes you to the EPA's smart growth website, which is equipped with well-organized links to general EPA resources, technical assistance programs, technical reports, and more. Their "Tools" page on the left hand side of the webpage links to a variety of topics related to the environment including climate change and energy, transportation and air quality, and green infrastructure.

Link addresses the following recommendations: water quality and supply, air quality, and biodiversity


Utah Capitol building

Utah Citizens Council

The Utah Citizens Council is an independent group of local advocates whose goal is to improve public policy in Utah. The link above takes you to their "Environmental Health Committee Report" published in 2020, which includes specific recommendations for addressing issues like air quality and climate change.   

Link addresses the following recommendations:
air quality 


solar panals and buildings

EPA Energy Resources 

The EPA has compiled a document to assist low-income communities with implementing energy improvements. The link above takes you to their Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Low-Income Communities guide. A variety of other resources specific to governing bodies can be found in their "Resources" tab on the left hand side of the page. 

Link addresses the following recommendations: air quality

biodiversity outlook

Cities and Biodiversity Outlook 

The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Stockholm Resilience Centre of Stockholm University worked together to synthesize scientific information and policy recommendations that help urban decision-makers understand the importance of biodiversity and account for biodiversity in their planning frameworks. The link above takes you to their Cities and Biodiversity Outlook - Action and Policy guide, which contains a large amount of information and various resources specific to biodiversity issues. 

Link addresses the following recommendations: biodiversity 


usu extension logo

Utah State University Extension 

Utah State University (USU) has multiple great Extension programs that provide resources and information to benefit both communities and individuals. The link above takes you to Extension's Sustainability program, which has great resources and fact sheets that decision makers can use to provide resources for their residents or that residents themselves can view if they would like to learn more about how to be environmentally friendly. 

Link addresses the following recommendations: air quality and water quality and supply