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Jun 142010

From Green Right Now Reports

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a half million dollar grant to the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board to fund a project designed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution in Central New York.

The program will cover Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego Counties. During each of the next three years, the planning board will select three communities within Central New York to participate in its project, called the Central New York Climate Change Innovation program. The winning local communities will receive sub-grants from the Central New York Planning and Development Board to develop plans to retrofit vehicles, buildings and other equipment to make them energy efficient; introduce alternative-fuel vehicles and fueling systems; reduce the miles their fleets travel; and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Each community also will review ways that city planning and land use policies can become more sustainable.

Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board’s greenhouse gas reduction program is one of only 25 projects in the nation to receive funding as part of EPA’s $10 million competitive grant Climate Showcase Communities program.

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. In the U.S., energy-related activities account for three-quarters of our human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. The Central New York Climate Change Innovation program will improve the quality of life of Central New York’s 782,000 residents by reducing GHG by 2,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, a metric for determining GHG emission rates for any combination of the principal greenhouse gases, and by achieving energy savings of 36,000 megawatt-hours.

The national EPA Climate Showcase Communities program helps local governments establish and manage initiatives that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to selecting the sub-grant winners, the regional planning and development board will provide technical assistance through education programs and outreach to local government staff. The program is specifically designed to help the underserved by giving priority to support at least one community that suffers a disproportionate environmental impact, and one small-sized community with a population under 10,000.

Communities that are selected will be required to develop a climate protection plan, apply for technical assistance through programs offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and receive training on no-cost evaluation tools such as ENERGYSTAR’s Portfolio Manager. The program will encourage these governments to adopt community planning controls to reduce GHG pollution from local residents, businesses, and institutions. Another important component will be the creation of a Municipal Energy Planning Guide to highlight case studies of projects funded through the sub-grants.