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Case Studies: Develop a Local Climate Action Plan

Mitigation and Adaptation Planning Increase Effectiveness

Note: All of the links on this page leave the DEC website

These case studies provide examples to help other communities develop their own climate or energy plans. Members of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability and some other New York communities have followed a formal process leading to a planning document. Other communities are taking their first steps toward climate or energy planning by setting goals for energy use or greenhouse gas reduction, or selecting specific areas for planning focus.

Communities designated with a star (*) are Climate Smart Communities.

New York Communities with Climate Action or Energy Plans

*Town of Babylon
The town's Clean Energy Action Plan aims for a 12 percent reduction in energy use from 2005 levels by 2012, through purchase of hybrid vehicles, installation of biodiesel fuel for entire fleet of diesel vehicles, purchase of 10 percent of the town's electricity from wind power and installation of solar panels at 2 major town facilities.

*Town of Bedford
Bedford's Climate Action Plan sets a goal of reducing GHGs 20 percent from 2004 levels by 2020. The goal is based on an inventory, and reduction measures are proposed for transportation, energy and efficiency, waste/recycling and land/water use sectors. Bedford is the first municipality in the State of New York to pass its Climate Action Plan as an element of the Town's Comprehensive Plan.

*City of Binghamton
Binghamton's Energy & Climate Action Plan outlines strategies for cutting energy costs, promoting energy independence and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sets a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 2006 levels by the year 2025.

*Town of Brighton
ColorBrightonGreen.org, an independent non-profit organization, focuses on education and action to reduce Brighton residents' impact on the global climate and to build community through common purpose. It is an offshoot of the Green Brighton Task Force, which recommended numerous actions for the town in its report (Recommendations for a Sustainable Future).

*Town of Brookhaven
Brookhaven's Clean Energy Action Plan includes clean energy task forces; building energy audits (for efficiency measures and possible renewable energy projects) and office best practices; alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles for the town's fleet; LEED compliance for new town buildings and review of building codes.

*Town of Cortlandt
Under its updated Global Warming Action plan, the town has appointed a citizens advisory committee and begun reducing emissions from town operations, transportation waste disposal and buildings.

*Town of Greenburgh
Climate Action Plan completed in April 2009 recommends a GHG reduction target of 12% by 2012 and 20% by 2020 using 2008 as a baseline. Greening Greenburgh website offers a selection of local actions.

*Town of Irondequoit
The Irondequoit Comprehensive Environmental and Energy Policy includes policies, accomplishments and next steps for reducing emissions from buildings and transportation, for stormwater runoff and master planning, and for "green" economic development.

*City of Ithaca
The city's Local Action Plan for Reducing Emissions from Government Operations includes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2001 levels by 2016. By the time the plan was issued (2006), the city had completed the first three milestones of the ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection program: Conduct a greenhouse gas emissions analysis and inventory, Set a reduction target, and Develop a Local Action Plan. Ithaca used ICLEI software to compile its GHG inventory.

*Village of Larchmont
The Village of Larchmont Board of Trustees agreed in 2009 to reduce the carbon footprint of Village operations 20 percent by the year 2015. Since that time, the village has implemented several GHG reduction measures. Their Climate Action Plan is an outline of actions the Village has already taken and recommendations that the Village is encouraged to take, in order to achieve its emissions reductions target by 2015. (See link on right)

*Town of New Castle
The town has set a goal of 20 percent reduction by 2015 from a 2005 baseline. The Town's 2011 Climate Action Plan focuses on four sectors: Energy; Transportation; Land Use, Buildings, & Vegetation Management; and Waste Management to work toward acheiving their goal..

*City of New Rochelle
GreeNR, New Rochelle's Sustainability Plan 2010-2030 is available in draft. To reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2030, the plan envisions a wide range of local actions in such areas as: Energy & Climate; Resources Conservation & Waste Reduction; Ecology, Biodiversity & Public Health; Smart Growth & Economic Prosperity; Transportation & Mobility; Public Participation & Awareness.

*City of Syracuse
The city has achieved its original goal of reducing energy use 20 percent by 2006 from 2001 and 2004 levels (base year depends on the type of use). They also have a goal of reaching 20 percent reduction of GHG emissions by 2010 (11,000 tons). They are developing new goals, since previous targets have been achieved.

*Tompkins County
In its Tompkins County 2020 Energy Strategy, the county has declared a goal of 80 percent reduction of GHG emissions by 2050, with 20 percent to be achieved 2020, and made public the results of a baseline GHG emissions inventory. To reduce local government operational emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050, the county aims to reduce local government operational emissions by 10 percent over the next five years, and has allocated the additional necessary GHG emission reductions among major energy-using sectors, including local communities, federal and state government, and higher education.

*Sullivan County
Sullivan County is approaching its climate action planning process with the use of a roadmap that recommends a county government appointed advisory panel to develop a Climate Action Plan (CAP) and provide oversight of its activities. These activities will include county and community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories, setting GHG emission reduction targets, developing a list of climate action and sustainable economic projects, and monitoring project results.

Ulster County: The Ulster County Legislature adopted the Ulster County Government Energy Policy in 2008, to ensure energy and resource efficiency are explicitly considered and examined throughout the County government and County decision-making. The policy is supported by a fourteen page Implementation Guidebook and sets measurable energy reduction goals. (From the county's home page, search for Government Energy Policy.)

*City of Watervliet
Watervliet's Climate Action Plan is a living document that records actions taken, current plans, and ideas for future exploration. The Watervliet Sustainability Working Group (WSWG), acting as the City's Climate Smart Coordinator, will regularly update the action plan and the baseline year. Watervliet's current goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% below 2008 levels by the year 2014 although their hope is to achieve 20% reduction by implementing innovative strategies like performance contracting to upgrade their facilities.

Westchester County: The Westchester global Warming Task Force prepared the Westchester Action Plan for Climate Change and Sustainable Development in 2008. The plan includes short- and long-term goals for the county: a 20 percent reduction from its 2005 base year by 2015; by 2050, an 80 percent reduction in total GHG emissions.

Municipal Plans that Relate to Climate

Some communities are integrating their climate plans and GHG emissions reduction measures with other local planning processes. Climate-related features included in comprehensive plans and other planning documents in Climate Smart Communities include sustainable transportation, climate change adaptation and energy planning.

*City of Albany
The city's first ever comprehensive plan, Albany 2030 (December, 2011), incorporates many of Albany's previous neighborhood and topical planning initiatives including their Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Also, many of the components of the comprehensive plan are designed with energy and sustainability in mind. Projects such as building a multimodal transportation center, creating livable, vibrant neighborhoods, revitalizing Albany's downtown and the waterfront all have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a more sustainable city.

*Village of Ossining
Ossining developed a new comprehensive plan in fall 2009 which promotes smart growth and encourages biking and walking in the community. Ossining's Environmental Website reports the status of the GHG Emissions Inventory & Global Warming Action Plan being developed by the Green Ossining Committee. A link to a draft of measures that may be included in the climate action plan can be found on the committee's website.

*Town of Rhinebeck
Rhinebeck's 2009 comprehensive plan includes "green" measures such as recycling, smart growth, wastewater treatment, bike paths and walkable community measures.

*City of Schenectady
After completing its first GHG Emissions inventory in 2008 and an updated analysis in 2009, the City of Schenectady developed an Energy Plan with extensive recommendations on how to implement the Climate Smart Communities pledge. These recommendations were later adopted by Schenectady County. Examples include: new road development projects (including the new Erie Boulevard corridor project) should make provisions for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, including a recommendation that planning commissions encourage installation of bike racks in all new developments and major renovation projects.

Ulster County: The county has developed a non-motorized Transportation Policy as part of its multimodal transportation planning program.

Study of US Community Energy Plans

In March, 2012, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a report that examines energy planning activities of 30 US communities. The study reviewed, summarized and compared the planning activities of a sample of localities that have developed energy-related plans. The study also identified gaps in current local energy planning practice and specific strategic opportunities for improved management.

Engaging Municipal Staff, Stakeholders and the Community

Community Outreach

Through public events, printed materials, campaigns, television and Web presentations, New York communities are reaching out to citizens with climate and energy messages. For instance,

*City of Schenectady envisions working with the Schenectady Energy Advisory Board to institute an annual energy fair hosting local "green" businesses and teaching best practices; to collaborate with local grade schools on, i.e., forums, science fairs, information booklets; to present to neighborhood associations; to develop residential "Eco-Teams" similar to those in Burlington, Vt.; to use a website to track progress and inform the public of initiatives, meetings, and minutes.

*City of Albany sponsors a "Go Clean, Go Green" program that publicizes the city's climate-friendly initiatives and encourages citizens to adopt energy-saving technologies and practices.

*Town of Babylon distributed a CFL light bulb packaged with coupons and energy saving tips to residences. The town's public safety vehicles display logo of the Green Homes weatherization program, and each retrofitted home gets a Green Homes lawn sign. Future plans call for Green Home car magnets, gas pump videos on energy efficiency, Scout troops "lean green" drives. Google mapping will show homeowners and building owners where neighboring Green Homes and buildings are and how much their neighbors are saving, encouraging residents to "keep up with the Jones'."

*Town of Bedford held a "Stakeholders Summit" that included all the town's decision-makers (Town Board, heads of town departments, heads of local churches, schools, business groups, civic organizations and interested citizens) to hear presentations on global warming and its effects on our town in the coming years. The town's website has a Green Page.

*Town of Brookhaven publishes an online Green Gazette and participated in the Renewable Energy Long Island fair, which offered guided tours of homes with solar panels.

*Town of Greenburgh held workshops and produced a TV show; participated in the National Conversation on Climate Action.

*Village of Montebello held a "Sustainability Forum" with a dozen other Westchester communities to help develop a sustainability program.

*City of New Rochelle employs a Sustainability Coordinator, who has made presentations to neighborhood associations and the business community. The city held a public meeting to obtain comments and ideas from residents on a sustainability plan. Several local schools have supported "Walk to School" days and activities. A Green Page on the city website offers weekly "Green Tips," environmental program information and resources.

*Town of North Castle sponsored a Green Awareness Day and Global Warming Awareness week.

*Village of Ossining incorporates public listening sessions and an environmental film series, as well as the Green Ossining website in their climate information program.

*Town of Red Hook maintains a display that shows energy savings from the photovoltaic installation on the town hall roof. A website bulletin board showcases energy incentives. Town board meeting agendas include a Green Spot. The town sponsors energy efficiency presentations. At the Earth Day celebration, the town showcased hybrids.

*Town of Rhinebeck published a directory of energy saving tips for sustainable lifestyles, distributing the directory at the 2009 Green Fair, the Dutchess County fair and at Fall Farmers Markets.

*Town of Saugerties sponsors a cable access show that has reported on the installation of solar panels on a local business and the resulting reduction in the electric cost. With the local school district, they co-sponsored a presentation for students and parents on green buildings and green careers.

*Village of Tarrytown Hosted a Home Energy Efficiency seminar and an Eco Fair with a "global warming calculator" to give residents an idea of their personal environmental impacts. Two public meetings, "Tarrytown Coping with Climate Change: Tarrytown Meets its Challenge," highlighted results of the GHG analysis and solicited community input on how to address climate change. Last Fall, the village council held a Reusable Bag Campaign, visiting local merchants and providing reusable bags and window decals to remind shoppers to bring reusable bags.

*Tompkins County (Tompkins Energy Conservation Corps) conducted home energy audits on community leaders' houses and developed educational materials to help residents take advantage of energy efficiency financing opportunities.

Community Websites

The internet is an increasingly accessible tool for community outreach. It is an excellent venue for information on local climate-smart activities and a focus for community engagement. A few of the numerous examples of climate smart and green websites in New York State are highlighted below.

*Town of Brighton (Monroe County): Color Brighton Green. The mission of ColorBrightonGreen.org is to develop and implement coordinated programs that engage Brighton residents of all ages, educators, businesses and community organizations in individual and collective actions that protect and improve our environment.

*Town of Greenburgh (Westchester County): Greening Greenburgh website, workshops and TV show; participated in National Conversation on Climate Action, 2009.

*Town of Irondequoit (Monroe County): Green Page - Includes green news, defining sustainable development, Irondequoit Comprehensive Environmental and Energy Policy, carbon calculator, "for kids", green home building and remodeling tips, recycling, rain gardens, other green resources and links.

*Village of Ossining (Westchester County): incorporates public listening sessions and an environmental film series, as well as the Green Ossining website in their climate information program.

*City of Schenectady (Schenectady County): Energy Advisory Board Home Page - includes history; mission statement; members; City of Schenectady Energy and Carbon Emissions Report; green tips (water, recycling, transportation); green accomplishments, and green resources within the area.

Westchester County: Climate Change and Sustainability - Climate Action Plan guidance and examples; green resources and tools; recommended actions for various sectors (business, county government, municipal government, higher education; k-12 green schools coalition of Westchester); green news & events; tips on how to take action, create a sustainability program and communicate.