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December 21, 2010

 

City part of nationwide program to reduce energy use

By JEREMY HOUGHTALING
Staff Reporter
jhoughtaling@cortlandstandardnews.net

Cortland has been chosen as one of nine municipalities in the Central New York area to receive funding to come up with a plan to make City Hall more energy efficient as a part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency Climate Showcase Communities Program.
Cortland was picked by the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, which received $500,000 to help its nine municipal participants reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and make city hall more energy efficient. Just over 600 municipalities were chosen nationwide.
“It’s exciting to be selected,” Mayor Susan Feiszli said. “I look forward to working with them to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve energy.”
In the first couple of months an inventory will be taken, and members of the Regional Planning and Development Board will sit down with city officials and come up with a climate action plan.
No specific plans will be set until after the inventory takes place.
The regional planning and development board could provide the city with up to $30,000 to complete the plan, as long as the city matches the amount.
The plan should be put together within the first couple of months in 2011.
It could help the city be a part of a larger grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Feiszli said.
“This will help our eligibility for future funding opportunities,” she said.
Samuel Gordon, the senior planner and energy smart communities coordinator for Regional Planning and Development Board, met Friday with Feiszli, Rob Avery, the city director of buildings and grounds, and Rich Cunningham, the program manager of Thoma Development Consultants, to give an overview of the program. Avery was named the project manager for the city.
“It’s a symbol of the city’s leadership in combating climate change,” Gordon said.
The first step of the process is for the city to join International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, in which the city would be reimbursed by the regional planning and development board.
The local environmental initiatives will allow the city to use its software to help determine how much energy the city uses and how much greenhouse gases are emitted.
Gordon said the regional board would provide a college intern to help with the calculations, as long as the city provides a desk and a computer. He added that he has already interviewed someone from SUNY Cortland. Avery and Feiszli said the desk and computer should be no problem.
Gordon said his board was open to ideas on what the project could entail.
From there, a demonstration project will be planned to help showcase how communities are fighting greenhouse gas emissions.
Another part of the program will be to educate residents and to urge them to sign pledges to be energy efficient under the Energy Star Program, an initiative by the EPA to save consumers money and protect the environment through energy efficient products.
The only other community picked in Cortland County was the town of Preble. Others municipalities included Cayuga County, the village of Port Byron, the city of Syracuse, the town of DeWitt, the village of Skaneateles, the city of Oswego, and Madison County.

 

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