Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that more than 100 New York communities are now certified as Climate Smart Communities thanks to their work supporting local efforts to meet the economic, social, and environmental challenges posed by climate change. This municipal climate milestone, announced in celebration of Climate Week, was accompanied by good news for residential electrification and reducing carbon emissions as the Community Preservation Corporation was selected to administer Governor Hochul’s $250 million Climate Friendly Homes Fund. Both of these initiatives are helping contribute to the state’s successful implementation of the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
“This Climate Week, we’re celebrating New York’s remarkable progress toward creating sustainable homes and building climate-smart communities statewide,” Governor Hochul said. “Thanks to initiatives like the Climate Smart Communities program and our Climate Friendly Homes Fund, communities across New York are taking action to protect the environment and tackling the climate crisis in their own backyards. My administration is fully committed to reducing the state’s climate impact, and we will continue to leverage key investments and resources to secure a safe and sustainable future for New Yorkers.”
“Today, as we kick off Climate Week, we announce even more steps towards reaching our aggressive climate agenda goals with the designation of 11 new Climate Smart Communities and the launch of the Climate Friendly Homes Fund,” said Lieutenant Governor Delgado. “I could not be prouder to be part of an administration that takes the effects of climate change so seriously and is taking significant steps to turn things around.”
100th Certified Climate Smart Community
Established in 2009, the interagency Climate Smart Communities program provides guidance and technical support to local governments to take locally driven climate action. The first step to becoming a Climate Smart Community is to register by pledging to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. To date, 364 local governments representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge. A certification program was launched in 2014 to document and celebrate the accomplishments of communities taking climate action and the addition of 11 new communities in this latest round brings New York’s total number of certified Climate Smart Communities to 105 – nine silver and 96 bronze certified participating municipalities.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, “This significant milestone of the Climate Smart Communities program demonstrates local governments’ commitment to enhancing the resilience of their communities and reducing risk and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Actions to reduce waste, save energy, and increase zero-emission transportation options are just some of the ways our local partners promote sustainability both within government and for residents to help reduce many of the contributing factors to climate change. DEC congratulates all of these 105 communities and looks forward to continuing to support these initiatives across the state.”
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Doreen M. Harris said, “Our actions to address climate change must be done in collaboration with residents and communities across the State, and so I applaud our newest communities that have made the decision to act now and become “Climate Smart.” These actions, along with Governor Hochul’s ongoing efforts to help more New Yorkers enjoy energy efficient homes, will ensure the vibrancy and health of New York’s neighborhoods now, and well into the future.”
To achieve Climate Smart Community certification, communities accumulate points for planning and implementation actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve community resilience to the worsening impacts of climate change. Recently, 11 local governments successfully met the criteria to be newly recognized as leaders during the State’s third quarter round of review:
- Village of Bronxville (Westchester County)
- Town of North Salem (Westchester County)
- Village of Pelham (Westchester County)
- Town of Pleasant Valley (Dutchess County)
- Town of New Lisbon (Otsego County)
- Chemung County
- Village of Lake Placid (Essex County)
- Town of Geneva (Ontario County)
- Town of Pittsford (Monroe County)
Western New York
- Village of Lancaster (Erie County)
- City North Tonawanda (Niagara County)
In addition to the 11 new certified communities, four local governments continued their commitment to community climate action and re-certified by completing additional actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change: the city of Buffalo (first certified in 2019), Madison County (first certified in 2017), the town of Mamaroneck (first certified in 2016), and the town of Roseboom (first certified in March 2022).
Since its launch in 2014, the Climate Smart Communities Certification program provides the tools, technical assistance, and resources local governments need to build capacity for planning and implementing local climate action that engages the community and supports a growing green economy in New York State. The framework provided by the Climate Smart Communities program helps guide local governments in taking transformative action against climate change and built a network of communities working collectively towards common goals. The launch of the Climate Smart Communities Coordinator initiative earlier this year provides direct technical assistance and support to local governments in completing climate mitigation and adaptation actions in the pursuit of certification. DEC’s Climate Smart Communities Grant program also supports municipalities by providing 50/50 competitive grant funding to help complete certification actions and implement projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to extreme weather.
To see a full list of actions completed by all certified Climate Smart Communities, visit: https://climatesmart.ny.gov/actions-certification/participating-communities.
For more information on the Climate Smart Communities Certification Program, visit: https://climatesmart.ny.gov/actions-certification/why-become-certified.
To contact a Climate Smart Community Coordinator, visit: https://climatesmart.ny.gov/support/csc-coordinators.
For more information on the DEC-funded programs associated with the Climate Smart Communities Program, visit: https://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/109181.html.
Climate Friendly Homes
The Climate Friendly Homes Fund is part of Governor Hochul’s strategy to curb building emissions and establish two million climate-friendly, electrified, or electrification-ready homes by 2030. The Community Preservation Corporation, a leading New York-based nonprofit housing and community revitalization finance company, was selected to administer the program through a Notice of Funding Availability released earlier this year.
In order to maximize impact and the reach of the program, CPC is partnering with like-minded green lending institutions, Community Development Financial Institutions, and other community-based nonprofits to collaborate on the identification and screening of building retrofit opportunities across the State. Lending Partners will include Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Enterprise Community Partners, and Inclusive Prosperity Capital. In addition, local community-based organizations from across the state will provide outreach and originations support to the program.
Through the CFHF, awards will be made to owners of multifamily rental properties to carry out an energy audit or Integrated Physical Needs Assessment. Developments containing between five and 50 apartments will be eligible and funding will help identify and pay for improvements that increase energy efficiency and decrease a building’s greenhouse gas emissions. These improvements include the electrification of the building’s heating and cooling systems, domestic hot water systems, ventilation systems, and upgrades to the building envelope.
Eligibility criteria and more information on the Climate Friendly Homes Fund is available on HCR’s website as well as the CPC website, where owners can sign up to receive information on funding eligibility requirements, the application process and additional program updates.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Our goal is twofold: to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels in residential buildings and to drive investment that eliminates environmental inequity in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods across the state. All New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to live in safe, healthy, well-maintained, climate-controlled housing free of harmful toxins. We are thrilled to have CPC’s extensively experienced team administering this critical program on behalf of New Yorkers.”
The Community Preservation Corporation CEO Rafael E. Cestero said, “I commend Governor Hochul and Commissioner Visnauskas on launching this innovative plan to electrify our housing stock. The CFHF will set the bar nationally for how government partners with private industry to decarbonize our existing housing stock, while addressing the unique financial and technical needs of small, affordable properties. CPC is proud to have been chosen to administer this program, and we look forward to working with our partners as we move forward.”
The Community Preservation Corporation President Sadie McKeown said, “I applaud the State for making an historic investment in the decarbonization of our housing stock, and for its commitment to the long-term health and resiliency of our communities. The program’s focus on delivering resources to small buildings in disadvantaged communities is essential if we are to ensure a just and equitable transition to electrification. My thanks to Governor Hochul, Commissioner Visnauskas, and to our lending and community partners for their commitment to a greener, and more sustainable New York.”
New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.