Energy officials from Utah, several other Western states and Canadian provinces were in Salt Lake City recently to meet with stakeholders and discuss details of the Western Climate Initiative.

The group's committee released draft policies that outline its market-based plan to reduce the smokestack and tailpipe pollution that energy officials say leads to climate change. Through the principles, scores of Salt Lake City businesses are already employing climate-friendly practices.

"I'm encouraged that so many Western governors are creating measures through the WCI that will reduce pollution and spur investment in clean technology," said Michael Jeppesen of Innovision Property Group and Green Earth Development. "Here in Utah, the demand for sustainable building practices that save energy and conserve materials continues to grow, even during these tough economic times."

Building and design practices such as energy-efficient design, passive solar, efficient heating and cooling, weatherization and renewable energy systems raise a building's value and lead to more employee productivity, energy officials said.

"We support the WCI because it will set policy to help Utah take advantage of its tremendous potential for renewable energy, while creating jobs and economic growth for the region," said Myron Willson of MHTN Architects Inc. "Green and energy-efficient design are quickly becoming the foundations of the building industry."

The group is a collaborative effort between the governors of Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington; and the premiers of Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec. It has set a regional, economy-wide greenhouse gas pollution target of 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, or approximately 33 percent below business-as-usual levels.

The group's cap-and-trade system will be the first in the West to reward major companies for cutting their global warming pollution by capping greenhouse gas emissions at a given level. Utilities and companies that exceed their allotment will be required to buy credits to cover their surplus from those that emit less than their allotment.