Several towns in Westchester County and many around the State are taking strong steps to fight climate change as part of a nine year old state Smart Communities program.
These communities also have put in place some infrastructure plans to help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather.
Burning fossil fuels generates almost 14 tons of carbon dioxide per each Westchester resident. The Climate Smart Communities Program (CSC) aims to reduce that by local action. The CSC guide sets ten certification goals for communities to achieve. Once they reach just one of the goals they can be certified by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Mamaroneck was among the earliest to take action and was given a Bronze certification for achieving several certification goals. [correction: Mamaroneck was one of the earliest Westchester towns to adopt the goals of the Climate Smart program in its planning goals, becoming certified by the DEC in 2016 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. The town has implemented many sustainability programs, among them reducing energy use and costs at the ice rink, town center, and fire house.]
Another exemplary community, the village of Dobbs Ferry, has been Silver Certified because it has reached even higher goals. It committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. By 2014, the municipality had already reduced emissions from buildings and street lights by 45 percent. Some of the measures it has taken to reduce emissions include replacing almost half of its streetlights using LED lighting, retrofitting the Dobbs Ferry public library heating and cooling systems, and installing solar power systems in the library and the Department of Public Works. This follows years of other efforts to cut carbon emissions by promoting walking, bicycling and mass transit through improved sidewalks and establishing safe walking routes to schools and other initiatives.
photo: Amy Lieberman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.