Modified: September 29, 2021 11:38am
Erie County is proud to announce it has achieved Silver Certification, currently the highest level, in New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program by demonstrating the extensive work being done across the county to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the changing climate. Erie County was recognized for the achievement in a recent Climate Week announcement by NYS Governor Kathy Hochul. Certified communities are the foremost leaders in the state, having gone beyond pledging to take climate action to completing and documenting a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level. Prior to this round of certifications there were only three out of sixty-two New York State counties that had achieved the Silver Certification level.
County actions leading to the Silver Certification include developing and implementing a Climate Action and Sustainability Plan (“CASP”) for county operations. The CASP, adopted in 2019, was developed by the county’s Green Team, which includes members of all county departments and agencies. Projects in the CASP have included improving fuel economy in the county’s fleet, large energy conservation projects in county buildings, the installation of solar panels on county property, and establishing a compost site at the Alden Correctional Facility.
“Achieving Silver Certification is a testament to the good work being done here in Erie County to make our community more livable and sustainable for future generations,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Climate change presents the challenge of our lifetimes and must be addressed if we want to leave a livable and productive Erie County to future residents. We are working at the governmental level to effect change and also at the community level, engaging residents and agencies as partners in creating a better, healthier Erie County and I thank our Erie County Green team and all of our community partners for their great work.”
At the community level the Erie County Climate Change Task Force, a committee of the Erie County Environmental Management Council, advises the county on issues related to climate change. The Task Force includes community-based organizations, not-for-profits, colleges, municipalities, business representatives, NFTA, National Grid, the Buffalo Museum of Science, and the WNY Youth Climate Council. The county, working in conjunction with the Task Force and community stakeholders who are participating in working groups, is now creating an equity-focused Community Climate Action Plan. Information about the plan development process and ways to get involved can be found at www.erie.gov/climateaction.
Actions to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions are being conducted at the same time. For example, Erie County has installed electric vehicle charging stations at county Parks and SUNY Erie campuses to help support the transition to electric vehicles. The county has also adopted PACE, a financing mechanism for commercial property owners to implement energy conservation projects and shift to clean, renewable energy.
“Climate change poses a threat to ecosystems, human health and our infrastructure, but with good planning it can also be an opportunity. For example, addressing climate change can create jobs in renewable energy, energy conservation, and natural climate solutions – like tree planting and green infrastructure,” added Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning Dan Castle. “This can also be an opportunity to address impacts on historically disadvantaged communities. Creating and implementing initiatives that help our most vulnerable residents will benefit the entire community. Our Climate Action Team is always seeking community partners and involvement to further the climate action planning process.”
This work has been funded in part by the Climate Smart Community Grant Program, Title 15 of the Environmental Protection Fund through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
For more information:
On the Department of Environment and Planning, visit https://www2.erie.gov/environment/
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