New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar today announced the latest round of communities to achieve certification as part of New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program, which supports local efforts to meet the economic, social, and environmental challenges posed by climate change. As part of this certification round, 23 local governments are being recognized for taking action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This includes the city of Canandaigua, which is being designated a silver certified Climate Smart Community, the highest level of certification available.  

“These exceptional communities are helping DEC celebrate the 10th anniversary of the State’s Climate Smart Certification program by demonstrating sustained and robust commitment to local climate action,” Interim Commissioner Mahar said. “By achieving certification as a Climate Smart Community, municipalities are promoting sustainability, increasing zero-emission transportation, and reducing pollution. These communities are critical partners supporting Governor Hochul’s ongoing efforts to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and advance a clean energy transition that benefits all New Yorkers.”  

To achieve Climate Smart Community certification, local governments accumulate points for planning and implementing actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve community resilience in the face of worsening impacts of climate change. As part of this announcement, 22 communities successfully met the criteria to be newly recognized or recertified as leaders at the bronze level. One municipality was certified at the silver level, the highest level of achievement under the program.

The city of Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes reached the silver level this round. Canandaigua was first certified as part of the program in April 2019, and received approximately $28,000 from the Climate Smart Communities Grant program to complete greenhouse gas inventories, a natural resources inventory, and a climate vulnerability assessment. In 2021, Canandaigua also received nearly $360,000 for eight Level 2 solar-powered, off-grid charging ports and in 2022 received $28,820 for six Level 2 charging ports from DEC’s Municipal Zero-Emission Vehicle program Awards. 

Bronze Certified Climate Smart Communities

New and recertified bronze Climate Smart Communities include:  

Central New York 

Village of Fayetteville, Onondaga County 

Village of Pulaski, Oswego County 

Town of Richland, Oswego County 

Finger Lakes 

Town of Gates, Monroe County 

Hudson Valley 

Dutchess County 

Village of Cold Spring, Putnam County 

Village of Haverstraw, Rockland County 

Town of Kent, Putnam County 

Village of Larchmont, Westchester County 

Village of Millerton, Dutchess County 

Town of Orangetown, Rockland County 

Putnam County 

Village of Rhinebeck, Dutchess County 

Village of Tivoli, Dutchess County 

Mohawk Valley 

Village of Clinton, Oneida County 

North Country 

Town of Colton, St. Lawrence County 

Village of Potsdam, St. Lawrence County 

Town of Potsdam, St. Lawrence County 

Southern Tier 

Town of Bethel, Sullivan County 

Town of Dryden, Tompkins County 

City of Oneonta, Otsego County 

Village of Owego, Tioga County 

For a full list of actions completed by these and other certified Climate Smart Communities, visit the online certification reports found on the Climate Smart Communities website.  

NYSERDA and DEC are working together to support towns, cities, villages, and county governments in New York State that play a vital role in achieving the State’s clean energy and climate initiatives. Local governments’ achievement of Climate Smart Communities certification is supported through NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Communities program, which recognizes and rewards community leadership by providing technical resources, tools, and financial support for the completion of clean energy projects. Of the 23 certified Climate Smart Communities being recognized today, 19 have been designated as Clean Energy Communities.  

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “NYSERDA is proud to collaborate with DEC in leveraging the State's Climate Smart Communities and Clean Energy Communities initiatives to incentivize future-focused climate and clean energy action across the state. Together these programs recognize the leadership and contributions of municipal partners like those being celebrated today, for their efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve sustainability for their residents and businesses." 

Established in 2009, the interagency Climate Smart Communities program provides guidance and technical support to local governments to take locally driven climate action. The Climate Smart Communities Certification program is led by DEC along with interagency collaboration with NYSERDA, the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of State (DOS), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Public Service (DPS), the Division of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), and the New York Power Authority (NYPA).The first step to becoming a Climate Smart Community is to register by pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. To date, 416 local governments representing more than 9.5 million New Yorkers adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge. 

This year, the Climate Smart Communities Certification program celebrates its 10th anniversary. Launched in 2014, the certification program recognizes the leadership and accomplishments of communities taking climate action. Each certification is valid for five years. There are now 154 total certified Climate Smart Communities in New York State, 14 silver and 140 bronze. To be certified, communities must demonstrate an active climate change task force that includes residents and municipal representatives. Most certified communities completed greenhouse gas inventories that calculate emissions at the local level and help local leaders identify how best to help New York State meet its ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction directives under the Climate Act.  

Climate Smart Communities Grant Program 

DEC’s Climate Smart Communities Grant program is making $22.5 million available to help municipalities take action to address climate change. Funding for this program is supported by the State's Environmental Protection Fund and the Environmental Bond Act. Eligible projects can include reducing flood risk, relocating or retrofitting critical infrastructure, reducing emissions from food waste and climate change planning and assessment as part of the Climate Smart Communities Certification program. Since the program's inception, DEC has awarded more than $60 million to municipalities in support of local climate mitigation and adaptation projects. 

If awarded a grant, municipalities must provide at least 50 percent of the total costs for most projects. However, this year’s State budget provides new municipal assistance to promote equity by authorizing DEC to provide up to 80 percent of the cost of municipal projects that meet the criteria for financial hardship and for projects located in disadvantaged communities. More information about the grant program and the 2024 request for applications are available on the DEC website.

Applications are due by July 31, 2024. To apply for the current round of grants, visit the New York State Consolidated Funding Application

A total of $21.5 million is available for grants of between $50,000 and $2 million for these and other types of implementation projects: 

  • Reducing vehicle miles traveled 
  • Reducing food waste 
  • Reducing hydrofluorocarbon emissions from refrigeration and cooling equipment 
  • Increasing natural resilience through restoration or preservation of natural features 
  • Reducing future flood-risk, including by relocating or retrofitting critical infrastructure 
  • Preparing for extreme weather events 

In addition, up to $1 million is available for grants between $10,000 and $200,000 for planning, inventory, and assessment projects that are aligned with certain Climate Smart Communities certification actions in the areas of greenhouse gas mitigation, transportation, climate adaptation and land use. 

Municipal Zero-Emission Vehicles Rebate Program

In April 2024, DEC announced the next round of DEC’s Municipal Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Rebate program, which makes funding available to municipalities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission light- and medium-duty fleet vehicles. These zero-emission vehicles will help New York State achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements of the State’s Climate Act. 

A total of $750,000 is available from DEC for municipalities on a first-come, first-served basis starting April 25, 2024. DEC is accepting applications on a rolling basis through Sept. 27, 2024, or until funds are exhausted, whichever occurs first. Rebates are available to municipalities across the State that purchase or lease for a minimum of 36 months an eligible vehicle placed into municipal service at a dealership in New York State between Sept. 30, 2022, and Sept. 27, 2024. All electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are eligible for rebates.  

More details can be found in the request for applications posted on the DEC website. Applications are available through the New York Statewide Financial System Grants Management System.

Funding for the Municipal ZEV Rebate program is provided through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The $400 million EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.  

Climate Smart Communities Coordinators

DEC’s Climate Smart Communities Coordinators initiative brings together regional partners across the state to serve as technical support providers and strategic planners to guide local governments in the development of successful local climate action initiatives. Climate Smart Communities Coordinators use the certification program as a roadmap for providing technical support to municipalities to help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, build resilience to climate change, and thrive in the new green economy.

Municipalities can learn more and connect with the Climate Smart Communities Coordinator for their region by visiting the website.  

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is advancing a suite of efforts – including the New York Cap-and-Invest program (NYCI) and other complementary policies – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. New York is also on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economy-wide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $28 billion in 61 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the State, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, nearly $3 billion for clean transportation initiatives and 130 certified Climate Smart Communities, over 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the State to help target air pollution and combat climate change.