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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Greener & Cleaner

Saratoga Springs became the 100th community in New York State on March 23 to take the Climate Smart Communities Pledge, in an announcement made at City Hall. A representative from the governor’s office was on hand to congratulate the city on its promise to advance energy and economic benefits for Saratoga Springs. The partnership will bring technical assistance, provide funding through grant money and accomplish specific strategies for “going green.”

"I congratulate the City of Saratoga Springs for becoming New York State's 100th Climate Smart Community. Saratoga Springs is already a leader, as one of the most walkable, bike-able cities in the state. By taking the Climate Smart Communities pledge, Saratoga Springs has joined a network of communities all across the state that are determined to fight climate change, while reducing energy costs, creating more livable and vibrant communities, and reducing risks to life and property," said Jared Snyder, DEC Assistant Commissioner for Air Resources, Climate Change and Energy.

A committee was created under Mayor Scott Johnson and Saratoga Springs County Supervisor Joanne Yepsen’s direction which includes Sustainable Saratoga, city officials and Skidmore College that will manage the program and oversee implementation of the pledge’s initiatives. The committee will meet on a monthly basis.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Yepsen.

Grass-roots groups like Shared Access and Sustainable Saratoga, and advocates from Skidmore College, have long been working on a shared vision for the community, and this step facilitates their hard work and efforts thus far.

“Anything we can do now, we have the state to help us, which we didn’t have before,” said Yepsen. “This really puts us at the table with the state on initiatives.”

$84 million was allocated in total in 2012 for the entire state, which will be divided up between regions, with Saratoga County falling under the Capital Region. Saratoga will be joining a much larger arena of resources and receivable funding because of the pledge. In addition, state financial incentives will be provided to public and private entities in order to incorporate more sustainable plans.

While a greener community is the goal, saving money, also, runs tantamount in importance to the groups involved, focusing on both of these aspects of sustainability, viewing them as integrated. In addition, more work to be done means the potential exists for a trickle-down effect that could add jobs and put dollars back into our local communities. “This is all about planning long-term for smart growth, said Yepsen.

The pledge is a ten-point plan for reducing the community’s greenhouse gas emissions, an important move for the city in the right direction and a key to fighting global climate change.

Specific strategies on the table for going green include: reviewing recycling policies, replacing existing light bulbs with more energy-efficient LED lights, curtailing idling vehicles and possibly adding fuel-efficient hybrid cars to the city as well as energy audits; valuable tools to identify where costly problems lie in buildings and vehicles. These methods are expected to help lower city energy costs over time.

The pledge committee will also consider initiatives such as “Complete Streets,” which are guidelines of the Shared Access group that create lanes to safely accommodate and promote alternative means of transportation.

“This is the future. Climate change is real; we are acknowledging that.” said Yepsen. “Bottom line, we’re creating a desirable way of life.”

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