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Climate Smart Communities Certification Program

Guidance and Recognition

Twelve people including Commissioner Martens standing in a group with six people holding Climate Smart Communities certification awards
Certified Climate Smart Communities proudly display
their plaques (photo NYSDEC)

The Climate Smart Communities Certification (CSC) program provides local governments with a robust framework to guide their climate action and enables high-performing communities to achieve recognition for their leadership. Designed around the existing ten pledge elements, the certification program recognizes communities for their accomplishments through a rating system leading to four levels of award: Certified, Bronze, Silver and Gold.

The first six Climate Smart Communities to achieve certification are: City of Albany (Certified); Town of Cortlandt (Certified); Village of Dobbs Ferry (Bronze); City of Kingston (Bronze); Orange County (Certified) and City of Watervliet (Certified). They were recognized by New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation at an Earth Day event on April 22, 2014; see link to announcement at right.

DEC is proud to announce a seventh certified Climate Smart Community: Town of East Hampton. This is a tremendous milestone as East Hampton is the first community to achieve certification outside of the 2013-2014 pilot program. Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said, "As a coastal community the Town of East Hampton is on the front lines from the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. We are honored to be recognized as a certified Climate Smart Community and will continue our work to achieve 100% renewable energy, coastal resiliency, and sustainability. Our future as a community depends on it."

Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "East Hampton's leadership in acting on climate change is exemplary. Achieving status as a certified Climate Smart Community means the town has implemented a wide range of actions that both reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help protect the town from extreme weather. I applaud East Hampton's commitment to preserving natural resources and utilizing renewable energy, and I encourage more communities across New York State to follow its example."

Communities Can Get Started Now

The CSC Certification Manual describes more than 120 individual action communities can take to earn points toward certification. Communities may submit documentation to the Office of Climate Change for more than 100 of these actions now. Review procedures for the remaining actions are under development and those actions will be added to the list of reviewable actions in the near future.

DEC has recorded a video tutorial (14 minutes, link opens in WebEx Network Recording Player. This may take some time to open.) to demonstrate the functionality of the CSC Certification Workbook.

The certification program designates 13 of these actions as priority actions. Local governments are encouraged to lay a foundation for local climate action by initially focusing on completion and documentation of priority actions. However, CSCs are welcome to submit documentation of any of the more than 100 currently reviewable actions as indicated in the Certification Manual Action Checklist.

Certification First Steps (see link at right) provides instructions for submitting action documentation to the Office of Climate Change and provides detailed information about the 13 priority actions.

Rating System and Actions

The rating system includes a variety of actions that can have an effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing local resilience, or building a green economy. It is based on the following features:

  • Is Broadly Applicable - Applicable and useful to all local governments in New York State
  • Is User Friendly - Program features an easy to navigate menu‐based system, which allows local governments to select actions that are most appropriate to their local needs
  • Acknowledges Early Adopters - Jurisdictions can earn points for actions implemented before the release of the rating system
  • Promotes Ongoing Action - The framework and overall program are designed to drive ongoing action toward achieving goals
  • Rewards Leaders - Bonus points can be awarded for those that are able to demonstrate performance improvements or innovative strategies

The certification manual describes more than 120 actions for which CSCs can receive points toward certification and higher award levels. Thirteen of these actions have been designated as "priority" actions and a specified number of these actions is required to attain each level of achievement.

Points will also be awarded for actions that were accomplished prior to participation in this program. However, to receive points for any of the actions, CSCs will be required to submit appropriate documentation.

Recertification of completed actions will be required every five years.

Details of the program and the specific documentation required for each action are described in the CSC Certification Manual (also divided into parts/pledge elements for easier downloading):

More about Climate Smart Communities Certification Program: