Clean Energy Communities Institute (CECI)
In 2021 and 2022, the Hudson Valley Regional Council created the Clean Energy Communities Institute (CECI). Our goal for this Institute was to walk communities through the CEC High-Impact Actions and how to accomplish them. Focus was on a single High Impact Action each month, providing action-oriented webinars, testimonials, in-person cohort-style workshops, and useful content.
Climate Smart Communities Tutorial Videos
This Climate Smart Communities tutorial series was created by HVRC in partnership with NYSDEC and NYSERDA to help guide municipalities through the Climate Smart Communities Portal, Certification Actions, and Certification Applications. After viewing HVRC’s tutorials, explore the excellent content available in the NYS Climate Smart Communities Portal.
00:00 - Intro
00:40 - Check for Prior Registration
02:19 - Create an Account
03:25 - Registration
04:55 - Update Municipality Profile & Manage Users
00:00 - Intro
00:56 - About Certification
01:43 - About Actions
04:22 - Locating CEC/CSC Crosswalk Document & CSC Certification Checklist
06:03 - Exploring Certification Actions
07:22 - Selecting Certification Actions
09:40 - Viewing Other Communities' Approved Submission Documents
00:00 - Intro
00:57 - Certification Application Cycle
02:24 - Submit Action Documentation
05:04 - Review & Submit Application
00:00 - Intro
02:16 - Timelines & Application Dates
03:39 - Updating Actions
NYStretch Energy Code Case Studies
HVRC created the NYStretch Energy Code Video Case Study Series to provide an in-depth perspective on communities’ adoption of NYStretch. We interviewed some of the early NYStretch adopters to understand why they adopted the code, what the challenges were and how they were overcome, and what the code implementation experience has been. Special thanks to the three communities interviewed for sharing their NYStretch experiences (ear buds or headphones may result in the best listening experience for the videos).
Town of Bethel, Sullivan County
2:36 Welcome to NYStretch in Bethel
3:13 Bethel’s motivations for adopting NYStretch
7:09 The elected official perspective
10:06 Building department concerns
13:16 Builder and resident concerns
Speakers: Supervisor Daniel Sturm and Sustainable Bethel Co-Chair Jeffrey Allison
Contact: Supervisor Daniel Sturm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Town website: https://townofbethelny.us/home
Sustainable Bethel Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SustainableBethelNY
Town stats: population of 4,255 (2010 census); land area of 85.27 square miles
Favorite clean energy project: Solar array being constructed on the Town’s capped landfill will secure 100% solar energy for all municipal operations and will provide electric energy to 400 residents through a Community Solar Community Campaign. This project transitions Bethel residents and other utility users to renewable energy, generates $26,000+ annually to the Town in lease payments for the next 25 years, and uses an otherwise undevelopable Town property to achieve all of the foregoing.
Municipal buildings owned/operated: 6, five of which are 1,000SF or larger
Permits applications: 420 – 500 applications received annually
Building department size: 1 full-time code enforcement officer, 1 part-time building inspector, 1 part-time seasonal clerk
NYStretch adoption timeframe: 11 weeks; serious deliberations began February 24, 2021, with the Town adopting on May 12, 2021
CEC HIAs completed: Benchmarking Municipal Buildings & Advanced Reporting, Clean Fleets, CSC Bronze Certification, Community Solar Community Campaign, ECET (CEC round 1), LED Cobra Head Street Lights, NYStretch, and Unified Solar Permit.
Village of Hastings-On-Hudson, Westchester County
2:57 Why Hastings adopted NYStretch
4:15 What is new or different in NYStretch
5:45 Challenges associated with adopting and implementing NYStretch
7:50 Communicating about NYStretch
11:35 NYStretch impact on workload
Speakers: Mayor Nicola Armacost and Building Inspector Charles Minozzi
Contact: Mayor Nicola Armacost (email@example.com)
Town website: https://www.hastingsgov.org/
Sustainability Webpages: The Village has several webpages related to sustainability issues including the Climate Smart Community Task Force page, the Conservation Commission page and an Addressing Climate Change page
Town stats: population of 8,590 (2020 census); land area of 2.5 square miles
Municipal buildings owned/operated: 5 that are 1,000SF or larger
Permit applications: Approximately 750 applications received annually
Building department size: 2 full-time staff plus one part-time secretary
NYStretch adoption timeframe: The whole process from first learning about the code on April 29, 2020, to adopting NYStretch on June 18, 2020, took less than two months.
CEC HIAs completed: Benchmarking – Municipal Buildings and Advanced Reporting, Clean Fleets - Light/Medium Duty Electric Vehicles, Climate Smart Communities Certification - Silver, Community Campaigns - Community Solar and Demand Response, Community Choice Aggregation, Energize NY Finance (CEC Round 1), LED Street Lights – Cobra Head and Deocrative Fixtures, NYStretch Energy Code, and Unified Solar Permit.
City of Kingston, Ulster County
2:45 Welcome to NYStretch in Kingston
3:26 Kingston’s motivations for adopting NYStretch
8:25 Overcoming initial hesitancies: elected officials & staff
14:09 Addressing community concerns
Speakers: Environmental Education & Sustainability Coordinator Julie Noble and Environmental Specialist Arielle Gartenstein.
Contact: Sustainability Coordinator Julie Noble (JulieLNoble@kingston-ny.gov)
City sustainability website: www.kingston-ny.gov/sustainability
City stats: population of 24,609 (2020 census); land area of 7.48 square miles
Favorite clean energy project: LED Streetlight Retrofit. Kingston’s street lights consumed 1.9 million kWh of energy annually. In 2020, the City retrofit all of the existing municipal street lights (over 2,200) to energy efficient LED street lights, which will result in an annual energy savings of 1,160,353 kWh and an annual cost savings of over $100,000 per year.
Municipal buildings owned/operated: 61, of which 26 are 1,000SF or larger
Permits applications: To date in 2021, the City’s Building Safety Department has approved 1,318 permit applications, which is reported to be the most in the last 19 years by this date.
Building department size: 9 full-time staff, which includes the director, administrative staff, and the zoning enforcement officer.
NYStretch adoption timeframe: Explored over the period of 15 months, resulting in the City’s adoption on April 6, 2021.
CEC HIAs completed: Benchmarking Municipal Buildings & Advanced Reporting, Clean Energy Upgrades, Clean Fleets Charging Station & EV, Clean Heating & Cooling Demo, CSC Bronze & Silver Certification, Community Solar Community Campaign, LED Cobra Head & Decorative Street Lights, NYStretch, PACE Financing, and Unified Solar Permit.
Energy Code Enforcement Training Resources
Hudson Valley Regional Council, with NYSERDA and Newport Ventures, is pleased to offer Energy Code Enforcement Training workshops to Code Enforcement Officials and Building Inspectors for local governments that enforce the Uniform Code for private buildings. The interactive workshops are focused on plan review and compliance, covering residential and commercial buildings. Communities whose enforcement officials attend earn 6 Department of State In-Service credits (3 Residential and 3 Commercial) and 200 Points in the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Program Leadership Round. Attendees are also eligible for 8 AIA credits (4 Residential and 4 Commercial) for architects. Incorporate these workshops into your in-service training requirements for 2022 starting in the Spring!
Current Training Opportunities
The next Energy Code Enforcement Training will be hosted on April 14th, 2022 at the Bedford Hills Community House. Code Enforcement Officials for Mid-Hudson municipalities can register at this link.
"Matt Evans with Newport Ventures presented the Commercial and Residential Energy Code in a practical application utilizing actual plan review and checklists to evaluate the plans provided. The training was provided in a classroom setting with a small group that provided the opportunity for interaction with the instructor and colleagues. The course provided an excellent opportunity to reinforce and build upon prior training opportunities provided by the Division of Codes." -- Michael Levine, Building Inspector, Town of Southeast
"The ECET workshop is very informative, and an awesome refresher on energy codes." -- Matthew Iarocci, Code Enforcement Officer, Village of West Haverstraw
Mid-Hudson Communities that Attended the 2021 Workshops:
City of New Rochelle
City of Rye
Town of Amenia
Town of Bethel
Town of Blooming Grove
Town of Clarkstown
Town of Cortlandt
Town of Gardiner
Town of Goshen
Town/Village of Harrison
Town of Highland
Town of LaGrange
Town of Lumberland
Town of Mamaroneck
Town of Marbletown
Town of New Castle
Town of North East
Town of North Salem
Town of Orangetown
Town of Southeast
Town of Thompson
Town of Tuxedo
Town of Union Vale
Town of Wallkill
Town of Warwick
Town of Wawarsing
Village of Buchanan
Village of Chester
Village of Dobbs Ferry
Village of Irvington
Village of Jeffersonville
Village of Kaser
Village of Larchmont
Village of Maybrook
Village of Millbrook
Village of Millerton
Village/Town of Mount Kisco
Village of Ossining
Village of Pelham
Village of Pomona
Village of Rhinebeck
Village of Walden
Village of Wappingers Falls
Village of Warwick
Village of Wesley Hills
Village of West Haverstraw
PACE Financing Webinar & Resources
HVRC hosted a webinar about using two different potential financing mechanisms to help not-for-profit and for-profit entities finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects without high upfront costs: PACE and NY Green Bank. In addition, Orange County Planning Commissioner Alan Sorensen discussed Orange County’s 239 Review process for large warehouses, and how the County promotes PACE Financing for the installation of solar on all new large warehouses.
Municipalities that have tax lien authority and that adopt PACE-enabling legislation (Property-Assessed Clean Energy Financing) are eligible for 200 points under the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Program. Municipalities that demonstrate that one or more projects within their jurisdiction have been financed through PACE are eligible for an additional 300 points.
0:00 Introduction to the Clean Energy Communities Program from HVRC Clean Energy Communities Coordinator, Eleanor Peck
7:10 Sarah Smiley, Director of Municipal Membership and Transactions Manager, EIC PACE
26:44 Alan Sorensen, Orange County Planning Commissioner
37:00 David Davenport, Managing Director at NY Green Bank
Unified Solar Permit Case Studies & Resources
Municipalities can adopt the Unified Solar Permit to streamline the approval process for installing small-scale distributed solar – saving time and resources for all parties involved. Municipalities that undertake the Unified Solar Permit High-Impact Action are also eligible for 200 points in the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Program, and can use this as a High-Impact Action towards a one-time $5,000 Designation Grant.
Is your community considering adoption of the permit, but you still have some questions? Look no further. Dozens of Mid-Hudson municipalities have adopted the Unified Solar Permit so far. We interviewed three Mid-Hudson communities that have undertaken this action to find out why they adopted the permit, whether there were any challenges, and how the solar permitting process has changed since adoption. Our overall takeaway? Adopting the Unified Solar Permit is easier than expected, and considerably shortens time necessary for solar permit review.
LED Streetlights Webinar & Resources
HVRC hosted a webinar titled LED Streetlights: Lowering Costs and Carbon, with real-life cost savings information from local governments around the region and details about the free cost-benefit analysis report HVRC can provide to municipalities. We are grateful for the participation of the Town of Dover in Dutchess County and Town of Orangetown in Rockland County in the accompanying panel discussion, and for the following communities that provided cost savings data from their LED Streetlight Conversion:
City of Beacon, Dutchess County
Town of Bethel, Sullivan County
Town of Clarkstown, Rockland County
Town of Dover, Dutchess County
Village of Irvington, Westchester County
City of Kingston, Ulster County
Town of Marbletown, Ulster County
Town of North Salem, Westchester County
Town of Orangetown, Rockland County
Municipalities that convert at least 50% of their cobrahead streetlights to LEDs are eligible for 700 points under the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Program. Municipalities that convert at least 50% of their decorative streetlights to LEDs are eligible for an additional 200 points. To receive the free LED Streetlight cost-benefit analysis report (example shown in webinar slides), please contact your Clean Energy Communities Coordinator and provide municipal street lighting bills for all lighting districts.
NYSERDA LED Streetlight Toolkit including:
- LED Streetlight Academy webinars
- Report from the Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium describing and assessing the costs and advantages of different ownership models and financial strategies
HVRC hosted a training to equip municipalities to accomplish the Benchmarking – Advanced Reporting action. Attendees were walked through the process of entering their municipal buildings’ energy use data into the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool to generate a report that describes site energy use intensity, greenhouse gas emissions, and greenhouse gas emissions intensity. These three factors can help communities understand which buildings are their highest emitters and make plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their building stock in the most cost-effective manner. If your municipality is interested in completing the Benchmarking – Advanced Reporting action, please connect with your Clean Energy Communities Coordinator for training. Thank you to Clarkson University’s Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries for use of their facility to host the training.
Clean Fleets Webinar & Resources
HVRC’s July 2022 CECI webinar, Funding Zero-Emissions Fleets, discussed the rebates and incentives that are available to reduce the cost of electric vehicles and infrastructure. Attendees were walked through the process of applying for the NYSDEC ZEV Infrastructure Grant, NYSDEC ZEV Rebate and given an overview of other opportunities, including the Joint Utilities Make-Ready Program, the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program and the EPA’s Clean School Bus programs.
Local governments are investing in electric vehicles and infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants. Electric vehicles are more energy efficient and cost significantly less to operate than gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Municipalities that complete Clean Fleets actions can earn up to 1,000 points under the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Program.
Note: In this recording, it is indicated that communities that use utility Make-Ready funding as match for the ZEV Infrastructure Grant need to apply for that funding ahead of time. The municipality can apply ahead of time, but if not will need to estimate the funding that will be provided by the Make-Ready Program to the project, if it is included in the municipal match.
Community Solar Campaigns
HVRC created a Community Solar Campaigns webpage that provides an overview of the benefits of adopting community solar and how to get started. The page also contains a list of solar providers who are interested in assisting with these campaigns and have provided HVRC with information on how they would support municipalities.
Community solar array in Saugerties, NY