Rochester Designated New York's 11th Certified Climate Smart Community and 50th Clean Energy Community Supports the Governor's Goal to Reduce Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40 Percent by 2030
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today recognized the City of Rochester as a model municipality for the city's actions to strengthen resiliency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In recognition of this achievement, New York designated Rochester as the 11th Certified Climate Smart Community and the 50th Clean Energy Community in New York State. These achievements support the Governor's aggressive goals to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.
"New York is leading the nation in reducing our carbon footprint, and thanks to Rochester's efforts in building green infrastructure and supporting a more resilient community, we are one step closer to achieving our aggressive climate goals," Governor Cuomo said. "As we continue to bolster our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state, I commend Mayor Warren and the city of Rochester for transforming the Finger Lakes community into a clean energy city and encouraging all of New York's municipalities to become climate smart."
At an event held on the Green Roof of Rochester City Hall, Mayor Warren was presented with two street signs by DEC officials to highlight the city's Climate Smart Community Certification, and a trophy was presented by NYSERDA in honor of Rochester being designated the state's 50th Clean Energy Community.
Certified Climate Smart Community
The City Hall building embodies Rochester's dedication to efficiency and sustainability through features including a green roof that reduces storm water run-off and reduces energy consumption for heating and cooling. The $246,000 sustainability project to make the building more sustainable was almost entirely funded by a state grant from DEC awarded in 2010.
The Rochester Public Market offers space for local vendors to sell produce and other goods year-round, supporting a vibrant green economy and helping achieve the Climate Smart Community certification. Rochester has also invested in solar photovoltaic arrays on its former landfill and on the roof of the Rochester Public Market. In 2011, the city expanded its capacity to finance building upgrades and support the city’s sustainability by establishing the Rochester Energy Fund to assist with project costs such as the installation of LED lighting in city facilities.
Rochester's commitment to cleaning up brownfields is especially notable. The city has cleaned five contaminated sites over the last eight years. In addition, Rochester transformed one of these former industrial sites into a LEED Gold building that houses the city's Water Bureau. In addition, Rochester received credit for its support of clean, alternative modes of transportation by investing in improved bicycle infrastructure and installing electric-vehicle charging stations around the city.
In addition to becoming a Certified Climate Smart Community, Rochester recently received funding for two projects from DEC's Climate Smart Communities Grant Program through the Environmental Protection Fund:
- $40,000 Climate Smart Communities Grant: Rochester will conduct a climate vulnerability assessment to evaluate Rochester's adaptive capacity and assess anticipated impacts of climate change on a range of sectors in the region. Rochester will use the climate vulnerability assessment to set goals and develop climate adaptation plans for the city.
- $150,000 Climate Smart Communities Grant: To design and construct at least 10 miles of neighborhood bicycle routes, as part of Rochester's Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan, which will connect to existing bicycle lanes and trails.
Launched in 2014, the Climate Smart Communities Certification Program recognizes local governments that have taken action to reduce emissions and protect their communities from a changing climate. More information is available here.
Clean Energy Community
NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities initiative recognizes municipalities that complete four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions, one of which is earning the Climate Smart Communities Certification designation.
The Clean Energy Community designation allows Rochester the opportunity to apply for up to $250,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no cost share. In addition to being designated as a Climate Smart Community, Rochester completed the following clean energy actions:
- Installed 24 public electric vehicle charging stations at seven sites;
- Adopted the New York State Unified Solar Permit to streamline the approval process for local solar projects; and
- Partnered with a local non-profit to run a community-based solarize campaign to provide public education and outreach to reduce solar project cost through joint purchasing.
The installation of electric vehicle charging stations is also part of Rochester's pilot project to turn into an electric vehicle model city that other municipalities could replicate. Under Governor Cuomo's Charge NY initiative, NYPA is assisting with the installation of six electric vehicle charging stations that power two vehicles each at public garages throughout the city. Funding for this project is provided under DEC’s Municipal Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Rebate Program.
Additional funding recently announced to support the sustainability of the city of Rochester includes $840,000 from NYPA for lighting upgrade projects through its "Race to the Top" clean energy competition. A total of $400,000 will be used for lighting upgrades at 17 community and recreation facilities and $440,000 will be used for upgrades at the Blue Cross Arena, Rochester's Emergency Communications Center, and the Charlotte Branch Public Library.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "I applaud Rochester's commitment to reducing emissions by using solar energy and improving energy efficiency in government buildings. The city is a model for smart growth and revitalization through investment in sustainable measures like cleaning up brownfields and building top-notch bicycle infrastructure. Designation as the state’s 11th Certified Climate Smart Community recognizes Rochester’s leadership in local climate action over many years, and I congratulate Mayor Warren and her staff on this accomplishment."
NYSERDA President and CEO John B. Rhodes said, "The City of Rochester's actions show how Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision is working at the local level to reduce harmful emissions and secure a cleaner environment for generations to come."
NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, "The New York Power Authority is proud to join with its partner state agencies, DEC and NYSERDA, to recognize Rochester's efforts to build a cleaner city. By embracing use of electric vehicles, upgrading lighting to cleaner, more energy efficient technology, and taking advantage of solar energy programs, Rochester is making smart investments in its energy future. I congratulate Mayor Warren and the City on their commitment to clean energy and for doing their part on the local level to help prevent climate change."
City of Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, "I am proud that the City of Rochester has become a Certified Climate Smart Community and has earned the Clean Energy Community designation, both of which highlight our ongoing commitment to take immediate, meaningful local actions to address the urgent threat that climate change poses to all of us. Participating in these programs help make Rochester a more vibrant, and more environmentally sustainable community. The two Climate Smart Communities grant projects announced today will ensure our continued progress as a climate-friendly city, and the Clean Energy Community program will enable further energy improvements to be made here in Rochester. Now, more than ever, it is important for cities to be at the forefront in addressing climate change to ensure a better future for our children, leading to the creation of more jobs, safe neighborhoods and better schools."
This announcement complements Governor Cuomo's leadership in establishing the U.S. Climate Alliance with California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. The three states formed the alliance in response to the federal government’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. The alliance is convening U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. Announced by New York, California and Washington State last week, the alliance now includes 13 members. With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.
To learn more, visit the DEC website and the Climate Smart Communities Grant Program webpage at www.dec.ny.gov/energy/109181.html. For more information on NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities, visit www.nyserda.ny.gov/cec.
About Reforming the Energy Vision
Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and generating 50 percent of the state's electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven a nearly 800 percent growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.