What is a Climate Smart Community?

New York State began it’s Climate Smart Community (CSC) program in 2009 as a partnership between the local communities and State. It’s stated goals are the reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save communities money, encourage communities to advance their health and safety, and energy independence goals, and stimulate local economies to improve the quality of life for residents.
This partnership includes six New York State Agencies that jointly sponsored the CSC Program, including the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Department of State, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Health, the Department of Transportation, and the Public Service Commission.

The CSC Program has established the following goals:
• Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
• Save tax payers money by reducing energy demand and increasing efficiency
• Improve operations and infrastructure to support renewable energy and low-carbon technologies
• Provide a platform for addressing inter-municipal issues with similar assets and issues
• Enable access to tools and resources for best practices in climate protection
• Facilitate Climate Action Planning to define best strategies for each community

To accomplish these goals, local governments adopt the Climate Smart Communities Pledge. This voluntary Pledge is comprised of 10 pledge elements that include climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The framework guides local governments in the development and implementation of successful local climate action programs.

Climate Smart Communities


1. Pledge to be a Climate Smart Community
Adopt the CSC pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Designate a point person and a Climate Smart Communities task force. Join a regional or national climate campaign focused on reducing GHG emissions or enhancing sustainability.

2. Set Goals, Inventory Emissions, Plan for Climate Action
Gather data about local GHG emission sources. Develop baseline emissions inventories for local government operations and the community. Establish quantifiable GHG emissions reduction targets. Propose emission reduction schedule and financing strategy. Develop a local climate action plan for reducing emissions.

3. Decrease Community Energy Use
Adopt specific energy-reduction goals. Take action to reduce energy demand in existing public facilities, infrastructure, and vehicle fleets, and to maximize energy efficiency. Implement policies and programs to reduce community energy demand through energy conservation and efficiency improvements. Encourage and support action by local government employees to meet energy use and reduction goals.

4. Encourage Community Use of Renewable Energy
Set a goal to maximize the use of renewable energy in local government operations and the community. Implement renewable energy projects such as solar, wind, geothermal, or small hydro. Implement policies and programs to encourage community use of renewable energy sources.

5. Realize Benefits of Recycling and Other Climate Smart Solid Waste Management Practices
Encourage and support waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting of materials community wide. Offer recycling and composting programs, household hazardous waste collections, and waste diversion opportunities that focus on reducing and reusing materials.

6. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through the Use of Climate-Smart Land-Use Tools
Minimize the GHG impact of new development. Update or adopt community plans, land-use policies, building codes, and multi-modal transportation actions to limit sprawl, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and protect open lands, wetlands, and forests.

7. Enhance Community Resilience and Prepare for the Effects of Climate Change
Establish a climate resiliency vision and associated goals, identify vulnerabilities to climate change effects for both government operations and the community, and develop and implement strategies to address those vulnerabilities and increase overall community resilience.

8. Support Development of a Green Innovation Economy
Lead and support the transition to a green economy by incorporating climate action and sustainability into economic development plans. Create demand by offering incentives and support for local green industries and green workforce training.

9. Inform and Inspire the Public
Lead by example. Host events, organize campaigns and support websites and social media outlets that publicize local government commitment to reducing energy use; saving tax payer dollars; reducing, reusing and recycling materials and adapting to a changing climate. Encourage citizens to follow suit.

10. Commit to an Evolving Process of Climate Action
Monitor and report on progress toward achieving goals. Be willing to consider new ideas and adjust existing approaches. Ensure strategies and plans are up to date. Compare successes and cooperate with neighboring communities. Maintain involvement of stakeholders