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Erie County, NYSERDA announce sustainability plan for county buildings

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Wed, Sep 28th 2016 12:15 pm

Plan to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions; county's 'Green Team' to identify opportunities to improve efficiencies and reduce waste

Erie County and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have announced the development of a climate action and sustainability plan for internal county operations. It is expected to save more than $700,000 in energy costs and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 5,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2020, equivalent to taking 925 cars off the road.

The project advances Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "Reforming the Energy Vision" strategy to build an energy system that is clean, resilient and affordable for all New Yorkers, and includes the state's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. This project also supports New York's clean energy standard, an aggressive, nation-leading mandate to obtain 50 percent of the state's electricity from renewable energy resources by 2030. As energy use is reduced in buildings, fewer renewable energy resources will be needed to reach the 50 percent goal.

To meet its sustainability goals, Erie County has developed a "Green Team" comprised of representatives from various county departments to identify energy conservation and waste reduction projects, and to closely track energy use and cost savings resulting from environmentally friendly practices. Through the Green Team, the county has already begun implementing cost- and energy-saving measures such as a paper reduction contest and recycling expansion throughout county buildings.

"The climate action and sustainability plan is a sensible step forward for our county and will help to reduce our energy usage and costs, along with also reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "The Erie County 'Green Team,' representing all branches of county government, as well as every county department, has been at the forefront of a complete overhaul of county energy issues as we develop a future energy plan that is sustainable, effective and conservation-minded."

NYSERDA provided $250,000 from the "Cleaner, Greener Communities" initiative to support the training of the "Green Team," and to develop the county sustainability plan. "Cleaner, Greener Communities" is a major statewide initiative encouraging communities to incorporate sustainability goals and principles into local decision-making, and then form partnerships to transform these goals into economic development projects.

"Although the 'Green Team' was championed by County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz in his 'Initiatives for a Smart Economy,' all county offices have been invited to participate - including the sheriff, clerk, district attorney and legislature. The commitment and enthusiasm from the 'Green Team' members has been remarkable," said Erie County Commissioner of Environment and Planning Thomas R. Hersey Jr.

"Erie County's development of a comprehensive climate action and sustainability plan will help create a pathway to energy savings that reduce costs, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs," NYSERDA President and CEO John Rhodes said. "Sustainable communities are essential to meeting Gov. Cuomo's energy goals and to growing New York's clean energy economy."

To build on the "Cleaner, Greener Communities" initiative, Cuomo announced the "Clean Energy Communities" program in August, with $16 million available to help local governments implement clean-energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs and improve the environment. For more information, visit "Clean Energy Communities."

The final Erie County plan will summarize results of greenhouse gas emission inventories, set short-term and long-term energy goals, define new operations policies and changes to existing policies, identify implementation strategies and projects, present a detailed timeline for implementation and identify funding opportunities. Once the plan is completed, it will be submitted to the Erie County Legislature for incorporation into the "Framework for Regional Growth," which serves as the county's comprehensive plan.

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