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How to Get Certified

The Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Certification Program provides local governments with a robust framework to guide climate action and enables high-performing communities to achieve recognition for their leadership.

Communities Can Get Started Now

  • Step 1. Designate a local project coordinator and notify the Office of Climate Change of your intent to become a Certified CSC.
  • Step 2. Review the CSC Certification First Steps Guide (PDF, 342KB).
  • Step 3. Estimate anticipated points and stay organized with the CSC Certification Workbook; email the Office of Climate Change to request this document. To demonstrate the functionality of this workbook, DEC has recorded a video tutorial (14 minutes, link opens in WebEx Network Recording Player; this window may take some time to open.)
  • Step 4. Collect required documentation, as described in the workbook.
  • Step 5. Email completed your completed CSC Certification Workbook and supporting documentation to the Office of Climate Change.

Achieving Certification Points

Designed around the ten CSC Pledge Elements, the CSC Certification Program recognizes communities for their accomplishments through a rating system leading to four levels of award: Certified, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The CSC Certification Manual describes more than 130 actions for which communities can receive points. The program designates 13 actions as priority actions and a specified number of these priority actions is required to attain each level of certification.

Local governments are encouraged to lay a foundation for local climate action by initially focusing on completion and documentation of priority actions. The Certification First Steps Guide (see link at right) provides instructions for submitting documentation to the Office of Climate Change and provides detailed information about the 13 priority actions. However, communities are welcome to submit documentation of any of the currently reviewable actions, not just the 13 priority actions. The currently reviewable actions are indicated in the CSC Certification Action Checklist. This four-page checklist serves as brief overview of the program, as it contains a short description of every certification action.

Recertification of completed actions is required every five years. In many cases, points can be awarded for actions that were accomplished prior to participation in the CSC Program. However, to receive points for any of the actions, communities are required to submit appropriate documentation.

Details of the program and the specific documentation required to achieve points for each action are described in the CSC Certification Manual under each of the ten CSC Pledge Elements. In addition, points are available for innovative projects and performance bonus points are available for achievements related to, for example, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Additional information, how-to's and case studies are available on our Climate Smart Communities Certification page.


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