The towns of Pittsford and Geneva have been recognized by the state Department of Environment’s Climate Smart Communities program.
The Climate Smart program, which began in 2009, connects communities with a network of tools, technical assistance, and resources to lower carbon emissions and support a green economy. The Climate Smart designation was established a few years later to celebrate communities’ efforts by tallying up climate actions for bronze or silver certification.
Pittsford and the town of Geneva’s actions include creating organic waste programs for government buildings, upgrading to energy-efficient street lights, planning for bike and footpaths, hosting farmers’ markets, expanding solar energy installations, and other measures to reduce greenhouse gas.
“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,” says Doreen Harris, president and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and co-chair of the Climate Action Council. “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.”
During the latest round of review, Pittsford and the town of Geneva scored 124 and 140 points respectively, giving them bronze certifications. So far, Brighton and the city of Rochester are the only other towns in Monroe County to achieve that level of certification, although a number of other municipalities, including the county government itself, have made resolutions to follow the Climate Smart Communities Pledge. Pittsford, in particular, progressed quickly. The town received its bronze certification within a year of signing the Climate Smart pledge.
The Climate Smart program now has 105 certified municipalities with nine silver and 96 bronze certifications. In total, 364 local governments, representing 9.4 million New Yorkers have adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge.
Similarly, all bronze and silver level communities have also received Clean Energy Community status through NYSERDA. This program similarly connects communities to tools and resources for energy efficient solutions. After completing high-impact projects, communities will have access to grants for funding additional clean energy projects.
Via the Clean Energy metric, the city of Canandaigua had the best score in the Finger Lakes region, due largely to successful community choice aggregation efforts, Property Assessed Clean Energy financing and savings through the NYStretch Energy Code. The town of Brighton and city of Rochester also had high marks in this program.
Communities that lag behind in both Clean Energy and Climate Smart status include the towns of Sweden, East Rochester, and Monroe County as a whole.
Both the DEC’s Climate Smart and NYSERDA’s Clean Energy are part of New York State’s climate agenda which aims to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030.
The state also plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. Officials say investments topping $40 billion have led to supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector.