Climate Action and Sustainability

 

Climate Week 2020 

As part of Climate Week, September 21 - 27, 2020, Erie County and the Buffalo & Erie County Library are kicking off a partnership to  increase awareness about climate change - the problem and solutions. Stop by your local library branch to pick up a coloring sheet (or 2) or download them here and/or here. Turn in your coloring sheet by October 27 to be entered into a contest for prizes sponsored by the Erie County Environmental Management Council (www.erie.gov/emc).  For more information on what Erie County is doing to reduce the impact of and adapt to climate change, scroll down.

 

Sustainability is a broad topic that encompasses a host of issues that the County has been working on for many years. This page will focus on actions that directly relate to climate change mitigation and resilience. Erie County’s longstanding work on watershed management, household hazardous waste, solid waste and recycling, habitat restoration, and stormwater are all sustainability issues that can be found the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning Environmental Services page

 

Contact us / Sign up for more information

Email us at sustainability@erie.gov

To receive updates on Erie County's Sustainability Programs CLICK HERE

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Background

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on the significant impacts of climate change even if the global temperature is held to a 1.5 degree Celsius increase from pre-industrial conditions.  The report, authored by 18 scientists with more than 69 contributing authors, makes clear that unprecedented action is needed to avoid catastrophic changes to the climate. Scientific reports and first-hand experience provide overwhelming evidence that climate change is one of the most significant threats to Erie County. Indeed, it will have far-reaching impacts on the entire community and affect the County’s ability to deliver services. Erie County can do its part to support worldwide efforts to reduce the severity of these impacts by taking action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the community and from its own operations. 

Erie County has shown strong leadership on environmental sustainability and climate protection.  In June 2017, the County Executive issued Executive Order 17, which requires the County to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement: a 26-28% reduction of 2005 GHG emissions by 2025.

ECEX-Signing 

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Climate Action & Sustainability Plan for Internal Operations and Green TeamCASP-CoverPic

The Climate Action & Sustainability Plan (CASP) outlines and prioritizes ways the County can further reduce GHG emissions from its internal operations through action items specific to each chapter. Overall GHG emission reduction goals were set for a short-term timeframe, mid-term time, which aligns with the Paris Agreement, and long-term. The following reduction goals are set against a 2005 baseline and were based on initiatives already begun within County operations, and from the measures listed in the CASP:

  • 32% by 2020;
  • 50% by 2025; and
  • 80% by 2040.

Final Climate Action & Sustainability Plan for Internal Operations 

Climate Action & Sustainability Plan - 2019 Update

Learn More

Erie County Green Team

Erie County has established a Green Team to pursue sustainability initiatives in its internal operations. As called for in “Initiatives for a Smart Economy”, the Green Team is focusing on energy reduction and resource conservation projects that will decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, prevent pollution, reduce waste, and save money throughout the County’s daily operations.

The Erie County Green Team is made up of representatives of every County department, including those led by other elected officials such as the Sheriff and the Comptroller. The team met monthly in the County Executive’s conference room and brainstormed actions the County could take to reduce their GHG emissions from government operations. The Green Team now meets quarterly to report on progress associated with implementing the initiatives listed in the CASP.

Green Team Updates 

Green Team LogoGreen Team Representatives:

Department      

Staff Representative

Board of Elections Currently Vacant
Budget Kim Kajdasz
Central Police Services Brian Speers
County Clerk Currently vacant
Comptroller Scott Kroll
County Executive Jen Hibit, Andrew McLaren
Environment and Planning Tom Hersey, Gary Carrel, Dan Castle, Bonnie Lawrence, Tracy Skalski, Josh Wilson
Environmental Management Council Jane Vohwinkel
DEP, Div. of Sewerage Management Joe Fiegl
Mental Health Marcia Kuma
Information Support Services Currently Vacant
District Attorney Joseph Spino
Public Works Bill Geary, Reed Braman, Tim Elling, Joe Mirabelli, Jonathan Rivera
Emergency Services Gregory Butcher
Health Jennifer Delaney
Law Linda Juliano-Jack
Legislature Louis Eve
Library Mark Kross, Tom Murphy
Medicaid Inspector General Mike Szukala
Parks Troy Schinzel, Chuck Bartlett
Personnel Elizabeth Klump
Probation Kelli Blakeley
Public Advocacy and Office for Disabled Frank Cammarata
Purchasing Vallie Ferraraccio
Real Property Tax Services Lauren O'Meara
Senior Services Erin Mahoney
Sheriff Joe Savarese
Social Services Mary Ellen Brockmyre, Steven Dlugosz, Carrie Godfrey
Veterans Services Felice Krycia

 

 

 Green Team Reps

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Climate Smart Communities (CSC)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, through its Climate Smart Communities program, is leading an initiative to support local governments as they take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. Benefits include leadership recognition, free technical assistance, and access to grants.

Erie County became a Certified Bronze Climate Smart Community in September 2019. Erie County is continuing to implement CSC action items and is striving for Silver Certification.

Erie County’s Climate Smart Community Resolution 

 

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Community Climate Action

“Erie County can take action to ensure its part in pro­tecting the well-being and future of our planet by pro­mulgating a plan to implement the United States target contribution plan to the Paris Agreement, as it pertains to Erie County, and to take such further action as it may by law to enforce the target contribution goals set by the United States within the bounds of the County of Erie, State of New York.”

This statement in Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s Executive Order #17, Enforcement of the Paris Climate Agreement, captures the essence of why Erie County is compelled to take action on this global priority despite a lack of leadership at the federal level. Along with other state and local officials across the United States, County Executive Poloncarz seeks to protect our County, as well as our state, nation and world, from the impacts of climate change by committing to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In response to that Executive Order, the County released the Erie County Commits to Paris report in January 2018. The report included GHG inventories for both County operations and the community as a whole, as well as 37 initiatives to decrease GHG emissions.

ParisLogo

 

 

 

 

 

EMC Community Climate Change Task ForceEMC Logo

The Environment Management Council (EMC) Committee is an advisory board to the County, largely made up of municipal representatives, as well as 12 at-large members. In 2019, the EMC convened a Climate Change Task Force that, as a committee of the EMC, will provide expert guidance and community input to the County as it makes decisions about its climate change mitigation, resilience and other sustainability actions.


EMC Community Climate Change Task Force Members:

Name

Affliation

Anne Bergantz EMC, Chair
Brenda Young EMC, Daemen College
George Besch EMC, Designing to Live Sustainably (D2LS)
Jason Kulaszewski EMC, UB Regional Institute
Paul Michalec EMC, Town of Evans
David Hahn Baker EMC
Faustenia Morrow EMC
De'yron Tabb EMC
Lynda Schneekloth Sierra Club
Rahwa Ghirmatzion PUSH Buffalo
Clarke Gocker PUSH Buffalo
Luz Valez PUSH Buffalo
Doug Funke Citizens for Regional Transit
Dan Keating National Grid
Jon Nickerson National Grid
Jason Paananen City of Buffalo
Kelly St. John City of Buffalo
Meghan Dye Buffalo Museum of Science
Sarah Wooton Partnership for the Public Good
Darren Kempner NFTA
Richard Lipsitz WNY Area Labor Federation
Matthew Sutton Town of Tonawanda
Mark Shriver WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable
Lisa Kenney GBNRTC
Justin Booth GObike
Susan Clark SUNY University at Buffalo
Emily Dyett WNY Environmental Alliance
Gabrielle Prince WNYEA Youth and Climate Justice Fellow
Julie Barrett O'Neill LISC
Paul Maurer Re-Tree WNY
Mark Casell WNY STEM Hub
Kevin Meindl Buffalo Sewer Authority
Derek Smith County Executive's Office
Maria Whyte County Executive's Office
Tom Hersey Erie County DEP
Tracy Skalski Erie County DEP
Josh Wilson Erie County DEP
Jane Cameron Erie County DEP
Bonnie Lawrence Erie County DEP

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Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

Transportation is the largest part of the County’s carbon footprint and supporting EVs is an important way to green our transportation system.  Based on the fuels used in New York State’s energy grid, electric vehicles emit 85% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline powered vehicles.  EVs can also reduce harmful pollution that impacts human health.·     

Erie County has installed twelve public charging stations at parks across the County, with several more in the works.  These projects, which help support the transition to sustainable transportation, have been supported by federal and state grants.  Click here for a map of the County’s EV charging stations.  

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Natural Resource Inventory

NRI

A Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) identifies and describes important naturally-occurring resources within a community, watershed or region. It provides the basis for land conservation planning, allows natural resource information to be included in local planning and zoning, and provides communities with a strong foundation for informed decision-making. Launch Erie County's Natural Resource Inventory Online Story Map here

 

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Climate Resilience

Climate change is increasingly impacting our community.  Projected local impacts include more severe flood and wind events, higher temperatures and heat waves, and biological impacts from invasive species, vector borne disease, and harmful algal blooms.  Many of these impacts will disproportionately impact vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities.  Erie County has an important role in planning and taking actions to make the community more resilient to climate change. 

Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment 

In 2020, work began on the Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA).  This project is assessing the threat of climate change to our community, the sensitivity of the community to those hazards, and the adaptive capacity of the County government to respond to those threats. The CVA is being conducted in partnership with a research team at the University at Buffalo, and with input from our community stakeholders on the Community Climate Change Task Force. 

The first milestone of the CVA is the Erie County Climate Hazards Summary Report, which provides a review of the threat of climate change to our local community, and recommends climate hazards that will be the focus of the CVA project. The Draft Climate Hazards Summary Report, as well as a summary video and survey, are available for public review: 

This project is funded by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities program, and will wrap up in early 2021.

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Erie County Low Income Program for Sustainable Energy (ECLIPSE)

Low and moderate income households spend a disproportionately large percentage of their income on energy bills, and are often unable to take advantage of the cost savings from renewable energy alternatives.  The Erie County Low-Income Program for Sustainable Energy (ECLIPSE) will address these impacts for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) eligible families.

Funded by the New York State Energy Development Authority (NYSERDA) and an in-kind County match, this three-year program will first analyze community needs and intervention strategies, and then implement the most effective solutions.

ECLIPSE will focus on:

  • bulk energy and green-energy purchasing;
  • access to community solar; and
  • related energy efficiency and resiliency improvements.

The program works through several County departments including: Environment and Planning, Social Services and Public Works. 

The ECLIPSE grant provides for careful analysis and documentation of achievements, and includes the development of a public-facing dashboard that will provide transparency and allow for replication of Erie County’s successes by counties across the state.

 

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WNYSBR 

WNYSBR logo

WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable (SBR) connects and supports leaders and professionals from business and industry, academia, non-profit and government who are investing in sustainability and the triple bottom line. The SBR has been made possible partly by USEPA grants obtained by Erie County, which have allowed the County to provide a coordinator for the organization.

SBR members have pledged to make their organizations more effective, efficient, and profitable as they:

  • Optimize use of energy & materials;
  • Reduce waste & pollution;
  • Protect waterways;
  • Invest in their community; and
  • Reduce the severity of climate change

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Last updated: September 23, 2020 11:05am