Town & City Resources

Veggie Truck

The Town of Mamaroneck’s efforts to reduce fossil fuels includes operating the first sanitation truck to use recycled vegetable oil in the state of New York.

The Town & City Resources section provides local municipalities and embayment communities of Long Island Sound with information and resources on climate change. This web page provides municipalities with examples and ideas on the actions they can take to address climate change in their portion of the Long Island Sound watershed.

There are several actions your municipality can take to help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Check out the examples listed below:

  • Become a Climate Smart Community: Climate Smart Communities in New York is a state-local partnership for climate resilience and a reduction in community greenhouse gas emission. The program helps municipalities identify, plan and carry out climate-friendly actions that support community goals, save taxpayer dollars and result in vibrant, attractive places to live and work. By enabling local municipalities to act on climate change without mandating the adoption of particular programs or policies, Climate Smart Communities helps communities discover which measures will work best for them and successfully put those measures into practice. To find out how to become a climate Smart Community
    and take the pledge visit the NYSDEC web page.
  • Engage with CIRCA: The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation is committed to working directly with communities along Connecticut’s coast and inland waterways to enhance the resilience of the natural and human environment. Outreach to communities is led by the Institute’s Director of Community Engagement in partnership with a team of outreach and extension professionals from across the University of Connecticut. Together they are developing relationships with community leaders in at risk communities, state policy makers and relevant state, local and regional organizations to solicit their input into the work of the Institute and to ensure the dissemination of information developed by the CIRCA faculty and staff. Please check the calendar of events for upcoming CIRCA outreach and extension activities. You can also join the CIRCA listserv (CIRCA-L@listserv.uconn.edu) to receive information directly and follow CIRCA on Twitter @UConnCIRCA. For more information about the outreach and extension activities of CIRCA, please contact Rebecca French, Director of Community Engagement for CIRCA (rebecca.french@uconn.edu; 860-405-9228).
  • Develop a greenhouse gas inventory: Estimating greenhouse gas emissions enables local governments
    to establish an emissions baseline, monitor progress, assess the relative source contributions, and
    create a mitigation strategy. Many local governments complete a greenhouse gas inventory before developing a climate action plan. For more information visit EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Tool website.
  • Develop a local Climate Action Plan: A local Climate Action Plan describes the policies and measures
    that a local government will enact in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the
    community’s resilience to climate change. The plan addresses and identifies the goals of the planning
    project, the actions that will be implemented, funding, responsibility and schedules.
  • Implement clean energy demonstration projects: Several local New York municipalities are
    implementing demonstration projects, for example, the Village of Skaneatles opened the first
    municipal net-zero energy building in New York and the City of Syracuse is replacing streetlights with
    LED fixtures.
  • Encourage local engagement: Host community outreach and engagement events with other local government representatives, non-profit organizations, and the public.

Many local towns and cities in New York are doing their part to address the impacts of climate change. Here are some examples:

  • As of December 2015, 170 New York communities have adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge, a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate adaptation. Click here to see the current list of Climate Smart Communities and their accomplishments.
  • NYS Department of State has initiated several pilot projects to address climate change. These projects include a Climate Action Plan for the City of Albany, efforts on climate change adaptation for the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve, and preparing coastal resiliency plans. Visit NYS Department of State’s climate change web page to learn more.
  • In September 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan that commits New York City to an 80 percent reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050.  The plan includes retrofitting public and private buildings to reduce New York City’s building-based greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, while spurring $8.5 billion in energy cost-savings over ten years and creating approximately 3,500 new jobs.
  •  A non-profit organization, Bedford 2020, is leading a grass roots effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by the year 2020 in the town of Bedford, NY.  In 2010 the Town of Bedford developed a Climate Action Plan.
  • In 2010, the City of New Rochelle released its first Sustainability Plan, GreeNR. The plan contains specific, achievable recommendations, aimed at improving the environmental, economic, and social health of New Rochelle over the next twenty years.

Historic downtown Mystic in the town of Groton

Many local towns and cities in Connecticut are doing their part to address the impacts of climate change. Here are some examples:

 

  • In 2011, the Town of Groton and ICLEI, through a grant from the Long Island Sound Study and EPA’s Climate Ready Estuary Program, developed a Model Process (summary) for communities in the northeast to prepare for climate change. Full report of Model Process (.pdf)
  • Incorporated in 2010, Wilton Go Green is a 501(c)(3) created by a group of citizens eager to engage the community of Wilton, CT in sustainable initiatives.
  • In 2004, Hamden, CT created a Local Action Plan to help the community reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 2001 levels by 2015.
  • Climate Adaptation Academy–Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research are partnering with researchers, consultants and other professionals to work with municipalities and relevant professionals on climate adaptation and resilience through the Climate Adaptation Academy. The Climate Adaptation Academy provides information on current adaptation research, policy and practice, and serves to promote an exchange of information between municipal officials, researchers, and other professionals. Workshops, forums, webinars and meetings are held in various locations with the communication type designed to best match the topic.

Natural landscapes dominate the shorelines of Southhold

In 2013, NOAA and the National Sea Grant Programs released a report summarizing research on community-level coastal flood management and climate change adaptation best practices throughout the North Atlantic region (Virginia to Maine). The report included five case studies from Connecticut and New York.

A primary goal of this project was to encourage a network for community leaders to share climate change, sea level rise and flood management best practices. The case studies document how a best practice got started and adaptation details using a cost-effectiveness perspective.

Below are links to .pdf documents of the Long Island Sound community case studies, and a description of some highlights.

  • Greenwich, CT−Floodplain initiatives and the town’s comprehensive plan addresses climate change, the development of an evacuation and first responder mapping using GIS, and a Green Area Ordinance.
  • Groton, CT−Incorporating Climate Change issue into Public Works Decision Guidance,  potential Actions identified to build preparedness to climate change, and potential future impacts from climate change in Groton.
  • Guilford, CT−How town’s comprehensive Plan incorporates Climate Change, a Coastal Area Overlay District, and a Hazard Mitigation Plan Incorporates Climate Change
  • New York, NY−How Vision 2020 local waterfront plan incorporates climate change,coastal strategies for climate protection/urban waterfront adaptive strategies project, a “Zone Green” inititative completed in 2012 to revise the zoning and building code to encourage green building strategies to reduce energy consumption and cut greenhouse gases, a New York City Housing Authority Preparedness Pilot Program, and Department of Parks and Recreation high performance landscape guidelines.
  • Southold, NY−How the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan is used to effect coastal policy, protect its shoreline, and preserve its natural environment; how it uses a Coastal Resilience tool to explore sea level rise and storm surge scenarios, and creation of a real estate transfer tax on sales of certain property as part of a Community Preservation Project Plan.

Click here for Sea Grant’s Cost Efficient Climate Adaptation in the North Atlantic web page for a map to locate all of Sea Grant’s case studies.

There are several actions that homeowners and landscapers in your community can take to reduce the impact of climate change. Here are some examples:

  • Plant Trees and Vegetation. Trees absorb CO2 and give off oxygen. One tree will absorb over a ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. Trees and bushes make effective wind breaks; they can reduce winter heating costs by 40 percent and summer cooling costs by up to 50 percent. Just three properly placed trees can save homeowners between $100 and $250 a year in heating and cooling costs,  according to some estimates.
  • Plant Native. Native plants are good options for maximizing a garden’s carbon sequestration (ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the garden’s plants and soils). Many native plants  are long-lived and have long, complex root systems that are able to sequester more carbon than short- rooted plants like lawn grass and annuals. Since these plants are continually growing and shedding old plant parts, they are helping add organic matter, or carbon, to the soil. Much of this carbon is returned to the atmosphere through respiration and decomposition processes, but some carbon remains
    captured or bound in the plant tissues and soil. This carbon will remain stored in this form unless otherwise distributed.
  • Apply Green Infrastructure practices.  Among many other benefits, green infrastructure is an effective  and cost-efficient tool for absorbing and sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Some green infrastructure practices include, rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs, and the use of pervious surfaces. To learn more about how green infrastructure can help improve your communities resiliency to climate change visit: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/climate_res.cfm
  • Read UConn Coastal Landscaping Guide. Coastal landscaping with native plants can play an important role in protecting properties from the impacts of waves and over wash.This website provides a tool so that homeowners can develop a landscaping plan with native plants while still providing view sheds and water access.
  • Gardening and Landscaping Resources:

 

Many state and federal grants are available to help communities address the impacts of climate change and promote coastal resiliency projects.

The Climate Change web page on the website of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP) provides “one stop shopping” on all management efforts to address climate change issues as well as local and federal initiatives. Links include the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, Connecticut’s Greenhouse gas emissions strategy, the Lead by Example program to reduce energy use in state and local government buildings Climate goals and legislation, DEEP’s virtual climate change library of selected publications. Also, the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) provides a resource  to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut’s coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change on the natural, built, and human environment.

Reports and Plans (note: most links are to .pdf documents).

  •  CTDEEP’s  Lead By Example program (LBE) will reduce energy use in Connecticut’s State and local government buildings and operations. 
  • Connecticut’s energy agenda web page provides information on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Connecticut Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP) developed the first-ever Comprehensive Energy Strategy for the State of Connecticut–an assessment and Strategy for all residential, commercial, and industrial energy issues, including energy efficiency, industry, electricity, natural gas, and transportation.  The Strategy offers recommendations in five major priority areas. By integrating energy, environmental, and economic goals, the Strategy breaks new ground and advances a broad and robust structure for thinking through energy options.   The strategy is available as a .pdf on the CTDEEP website.
  • Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)  Connecticut General Statutes section 16a-3a
    requires that CTDEEP prepare an Integrated Resource Plan every two years. An Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is comprised of an assessment of the future electric needs and a plan to meet those future needs. The draft plan looks at both demand side (conservation, energy efficiency, etc.) resources as well as the more traditional supply side (generation/power plants, transmission lines, etc.) resources in making its recommendations on how best to meet future electric energy needs in the state. The draft plan is available as a pdf on the CTDEEP website.
  • Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan serves as guidance for hazard mitigation for the State of Connecticut. Its vision is supported by three central goals, each with an objective, a set of strategies and associated actions for Connecticut state government, stakeholders, and organizations that will reduce or prevent injury from natural hazards to people, property, infrastructure, and critical state facilities.
  • Connecticut Climate Change and Resiliency related reports
  • Timeline of Connecticut Climate Change Action Plans, including the 2005 Action Plan that  describes the recommended actions to reduce greenhouse (GHG) emissions and achieve the regional goals set by the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP).
  • Connecticut Greenhouse Gas Reduction Progress Reports tracksprogress Connecticut is making through programs to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reports on state greenhouse gas emissions. outlines the progress.

The New York State Office of Climate Change was created to develop programs and policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help New York communities and residents adapt to the impacts of climate change. Learn more at the Office of Climate Change website.

Learn more at the Office of Climate Change website

Agencies, Reports, and Plans

  • New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force. In 2007, the New York State Legislature created the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force to assess the impacts of rising seas to the New York coastline and to recommend protective and adaptive measures. In 2010, the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force prepared a report with its findings and recommendations for adapting to sea level rise. The report is available on the NYSDEC website.
  • 2014 Draft New York State Energy Plan. The draft plan provides 15 key initiatives to advance New York’s energy future, contains recommendations to improve new energy technologies that foster an innovative clean energy economy, addresses energy use, provides forecasts for energy supply and demand, provides a statewide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, and includes environmental and public health impacts associated with energy, production, and use. Visit the Energy Plan web page for more information and to read the draft plan.
  •  2011 Responding to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID) Technical Report. The ClimAID technical report provides information on climate change impacts and adaptation for eight sectors in New York State: water resources, coastal zones, ecosystems, agriculture, energy, transportation, telecommunications, and public health.  For each sector, climate risks, vulnerabilities, and adaptation strategies are identified. Visit the NYSERDA website to read the report.
  • 2010 New York State Climate Action Plan Interim Report. Executive Order No. 24 set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York State by 80 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2050. The Executive Order also created the New York State Climate Action Council (CAC) with a directive to prepare a climate action plan that would assess how all economic sectors can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. In 2010, the CAC released a Climate Action Plan Interim Report, which is available on the NYSDEC website.
  • New York State Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA). On September 22, 2014, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) into law.  This law mandates NYSDEC and NYSDOS as well as other agencies take specific steps to assure climate resilience in New York State.  NYSDEC must adopt official sea level rise projections by 2016.  NYSDOS must produce model local laws that promote climate resiliency.  Under this law, applicants to certain State programs must demonstrate that they have taken into account climate change risks in their project.  Agencies must also develop guidance on permitting, funding, and facility-siting. Work on these tasks has only just started, but their completion is expected by January 2017. A news release discusses the legislation.

The US Climate Resilience Toolkit is a website designed to help people find and use tools, information, and subject matter expertise to build climate resilience.

US Climate Resilience Toolkit

The toolkit offers information from all across the US federal government in one easy-to-use location. The goal is to improve people’s ability to understand and manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and to help them make their communities and businesses more resilient to extreme events. Click on the video to watch a brief desciption.

Center for Housing Policy Goal to Make Homes More Resilient to Natural Disasters

The Center for Housing Policy, with support from WeatherPredict Consulting, developed an online toolkit to emphasize the need for greater attention to improving the disaster resistance of housing in areas vulnerable to natural disasters.

Climate Central Surging Seas, sea level rise maps:

This website provides interactive maps showing the threats from sea level rise and storm surge to coastal towns, cities, counties, and states.

The Connecticut Adaptation Resource Toolkit (CART):

CART was designed to help local government staff, committee members and active participants in Connecticut have instant access to climate change adaptation resources. The website provides ideas and methods on local climate change adaptation planning and action.

CT Sea Grant Climate Change and Resilient Coastal Communities

Provides an overview of how CT Sea Grant is addressing the multi-faceted challenge of climate change through existing program initiatives.

CT Sea Grant Hazard Guide for Coastal Property Owners (beaches and dunes)

This website will help you evaluate threats and identify what you can do to protect your coastal property and the natural environment.

EPA adaptation tools for Public Officials:

This website provides resources to help public officials and others with climate change adaptation planning.

EPA Region 1 (New England) – Climate Change: Resilience and Adaptation in New England (RAINE) database

The Resilience and Adaptation in New England (RAINE) database is a collection of vulnerability, resilience and adaptation reports, plans and webpages at the state, regional and community level.

EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program:

This website provides technical assistance, analytical tools, and outreach support to state, local, and tribal governments.

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes:

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters.

FEMA Local Mitigation Planning Handbook:

The Local Mitigation Planning Handbook is a tool for local governments to use in developing or updating a local hazard mitigation plan.

Long Island Sound Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM)

LISS, CTDEEP, and NYSERDA have developed a web-based tool that can help resource managers project the long-term affect of sea-level rise and other environmental stressors on coastal habitats.

National Sea Grant Resilience Toolkit

This website provides numerous tools and documents from around the country applicable to both municipalities and homeowners.

NYSDEC’s Climate Change Information Resources:

This website provides a list of sources about greenhouse gases and climate.

NOAA Office for Coastal Management:

This website provides NOAA-sponsored resources that address coastal management issues.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)  is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created to support development and implementation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a cooperative effort among nine states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Urban Sustainability Directors Network:

The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) is a peer-to-peer network of local government professionals from cities across the United States and Canada dedicated to creating a healthier environment, economic prosperity, and increased social equity. Our dynamic network enables sustainability directors and staff to share best practices and accelerate the application of good ideas across North America.

Climate Change
Spotlight

Read how the Town of Bedford, NY plans to reduce carbon pollution by 20 percent by 2020.

Glossary

  • Adaptation

    Adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment. Adaptation to climate change refers to adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities (IPCC Third Assessment Report Working Group III: Mitigation).

  • Resilience

    A capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage to social well-being, the economy, and the environment.
See full glossary