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Cuomo cites city as a model for its climate efforts

Rochester has been deemed a model municipality by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create climate resilience, the governor’s office announced Friday.

Rochester is the state’s 11th Certified Climate Smart Community and its 50th Clean Energy Community.

“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,” Mayor Lovely Warren said in a statement.

Mayor Lovely Warren

Mayor Lovely Warren

Cuomo aims to decrease statewide greenhouse gas emission by 40 percent by 2030 and by 80 percent in 2050, officials said.

For the Certified Climate Smart Community distinction Rochester showcased its dedication to efficiency and sustainability in multiple ways. One example is Rochester’s City Hall building. It has a green roof that reduces storm water run-off and reduces energy consumption for heating and cooling—new features that cost $246,000 and were funded in part by a state grant officials said.

Rochester also has a sustainable focus with its public market, which supports a green economy year-round. The city also has invested in solar photovoltaic arrays on its former landfill and on the roof of the Rochester Public Market.

Another example is Rochester’s focus on cleaning brownfields. The city has cleaned five contaminated sites in eight years, officials said. One of those sites was developed into a LEED Gold building that houses the city’s Water Bureau.

Rochester has received funding for two projects from state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities Grant Program through the Environmental Protection Fund:

  • $40,000 Climate Smart Communities Grant: The grant allows Rochester to conduct a climate vulnerability assessment to evaluate the city’s adaptive capacity and assess anticipated impacts of climate change.
  • $150,000 Climate Smart Communities Grant: The grant allows the design and construction of some 10 miles of neighborhood bicycle routes as part of the city’s Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan.

Rochester is also recognized as a Clean Energy Community.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Clean Energy Communities initiative recognizes cities that complete 10 high-impact clean energy actions, including earning the Climate Smart Communities Certification designation.

By becoming a Clean Energy Community, Rochester is able to apply for up to $250,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no cost share, NYSERDA said.

Its clean energy actions, included:

  • Installed 24 public electric vehicle charging stations at seven sites;
  • Adopted the New York State Unified Solar Permit to make the approval process for local solar projects more efficient; and
  • Partnered with a local non-profit to run a community-based solarize campaign aimed at spreading public education and outreach in order to reduce solar project cost through joint purchasing.

Rochester also received an additional $840,000 in funding from New York Power Authority for lighting upgrade projects through its “Race to the Top” clean energy competition. Of those funds, $400,000 will be used for lighting upgrades at 17 community and recreation facilities and the other $440,000 will be used for upgrades at the Blue Cross Arena, Rochester’s Emergency Communications Center and the Charlotte Branch Public Library.

“I applaud Rochester’s commitment to reducing emissions by using solar energy and improving energy efficiency in government buildings,” said Basil Seggos, DEC commissioner in a statement. “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.”

Follow Kerry Feltner on Twitter: @KerryFeltner

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com

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