Mayor Austin Tylec announced North Tonawanda received a bronze certification as a Climate Smart Community through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
A press release noted, “Thanks to North Tonawanda’s Climate Smart Task Force, initiated by Tylec in 2021, the commission supports efforts to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges posed by climate change.”
Tyler said, “This is part of the city’s commitment to take steps in our city that will help mitigate against the worst impacts of global climate change on a local level, while finding new ways for long-term energy savings.”
The press release added, “To achieve Climate Smart Community certification, cities accumulate points for planning and actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve community resilience to the worsening impacts of climate change. These actions support the NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and its goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030.
“North Tonawanda's application was approved for 19 actions in eight categories for a total of 132 points. These actions include energy audits, adopting a ‘Complete Streets’ policy, green infrastructure initiatives, and shoreline restoration at the NT Botanical Gardens.”
Tylec noted past initiatives are good for the environment and can reduce the city’s expenses. For example, an energy audit of municipal buildings resulted in a competitive energy-efficiency agreement that has saved more than $250,000 in electricity costs over the past 30 months.
Tylec’s team said, “The North Tonawanda's Climate Smart Communities Task Force empowers the city to address impacts of climate change through education, community building, and measurable actions. The task force creates subcommittees to research opportunities and collaborates with other groups. The CSC task force plays a leadership role in advocating for these types of projects and identifying funding sources, as well as partnering with experts to assist with implementation.
“Bronze certification opens additional funding for the city. One source is DEC's Climate Smart Communities Grant program, which supports municipalities by providing grant funding to help complete certification actions and implement projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to extreme weather.”
Task force member Deborah Gondek said, “We’re not stopping at bronze. North Tonawanda's Climate Smart Communities Task Force is proactively working on new projects that will elevate our city to silver certification status. We're focused on water source protection, expanding renewable energy options for residents, and completing a climate vulnerability assessment as input for our city's comprehensive plan.”
To further the city’s efforts, North Tonawanda has partnered with the University at Buffalo to complete the assessment. Student’s enrolled in the fall semester of UB School of Architecture and Planning’s environmental design workshop will be exploring climate adaptation planning, community engagement techniques, and climate-based design solutions specific to the City of North Tonawanda.
Tylec said, “This partnership is a fantastic opportunity for both the students and our city as we will be moving forward with updating our citywide comprehensive plan (last done in 2008), as well as our Local Waterfront Revitalization Program – two critical documents to guide and develop our city and waterfront for years to come.”
To learn more about North Tonawanda’s climate smart task force and actions, visit www.northtonawanda.org/climate-smart-task-force.
The first step to becoming a Climate Smart Community is to register by pledging to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, which North Tonawanda did in 2021. To date, 364 local governments representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge.