Montgomery County recognizes the role and responsibility for public agencies to protect and conserve natural resources, use financial resources effectively and efficiently, and celebrate the achievements of a healthy and productive organization.
The overarching message for our sustainability program is simple and intuitive – we need to think about the impact of our decisions and behaviors so that we not only have a healthy, vibrant and safe community today but also so that we can preserve the viability of future generations. Sustainability is a process of continual improvement, and Montgomery County is taking disciplined and thoughtful steps that are in the best interest of our organization and community.
Montgomery County is committed to building upon and expanding its sustainability initiatives and practices, and recognizes the importance of providing leadership in this area as a reflection of effective public administration, health and well being of our community, and concern for future generations. For our purposes, sustainability is defined as meeting current economic, social and environmental needs while ensuring that future generations can meet their needs. Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, oil and gasoline raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming. You can help to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which in turn reduces global warming, by using energy more wisely.
Climate Smart Community
The New York State Climate Smart Communities Certification program represents the next phase in the development of New York’s Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program. The CSC program was first established in 2009 to provide local governments with guidance on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save taxpayer dollars, and advance community goals for health and safety, economic vitality, energy independence, and quality of life. The first step in participating in the Climate Smart Communities program is to adopt the Climate Smart Communities Pledge, to initiate a community’s commitment to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and climate adaptation. The Climate Smart Communities program is jointly sponsored by six New York state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York State Energy Research and Development Administration (NYSERDA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of State, and the Public Service Commission.
The CSC Certification program was established in 2014 by DEC and NYSERDA, with funding from the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, in cooperation with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. The CSC Certification program was developed to further engage New York State local governments in the CSC program, to provide a more robust framework to guide local governments in their climate protection efforts, and to recognize their achievements as they make progress.
Many municipalities begin by reducing emissions and increasing climate resilience in municipal operations alone, but action by the entire community is needed to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and to successfully adapt to unavoidable climate change. Local governments can act directly to reduce fossil fuel consumption in municipal buildings and vehicles, to improve solid waste management practices and to adapt infrastructure and operations for resilience to anticipated changes as the climate warms. Flooding and changes in precipitation and snow pack that may affect water supplies are of special concern to localities.
To help the broader community act, local governments can enable climate-smart practices through land use plans, zoning and building codes and efficient transportation policies. A key local government role is leading, educating and setting an example of energy efficiency and adaptation.
The Montgomery County Legislature formalized its commitment to sustainability by adopting a resolution and pledged to become a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Climate Smart Community.
NYSERDA Clean Energy Community
Building a more sustainable New York starts with building more sustainable communities. Local governments affect energy choices in their communities, from government operations to homes, businesses, and community institutions. Local governments in New York State can use the Clean Energy Communities program to implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment. In addition to providing tools, resources, and technical assistance, the program recognizes and rewards leadership for the completion of clean energy projects.
Montgomery County is on its way to fulfilling the needed 4 of 10 High Impact Actions to earn a Clean Energy Community designation and qualify to apply for grant funding.
2 of the 4 High Impact Action Items have been achieved:
- Benchmarking – Benchmarking is a policy that a local government adopts that requires the annual reporting of energy used in local government buildings and, in large municipalities, also requires the annual disclosure of energy used in large private buildings. It’s important because buildings account for more than 60% of the energy used in New York State. Setting up a system for measuring and sharing data on building energy use over time will allow owners and occupants to compare energy usage against other buildings, and better identify opportunities to cut energy waste. Collecting, reporting, and sharing benchmarking data regularly also helps the public and government agencies make smarter investment decisions, reward efficiency, and drive widespread, continuous improvement. The Montgomery County Legislature formalized its commitment by adopting a resolution.
- Energize NY Finance – The Energy Improvement Corporation (“EIC”) of New York, a New York Local Development Corporation, has established a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (“PACE”) to provide financing to property owners in participating municipal member jurisdictions throughout New York State. Montgomery County became a municipal member in 2017. This allows eligible property owners in all its towns and villages to apply for PACE financing. EIC acts as a constituted authority on behalf of its municipal members pursuant to a municipal agreement and is charged with the administration of the PACE Financing Program, including the issuance of debt to permanently fund eligible loans to property owners. PACE financing is available to eligible commercial, industrial, manufacturing, agricultural, multifamily, and institutional property owners for eligible energy improvements that are permanently affixed to their privately owned existing structures. Montgomery County Membership Letter and PACE law.