Governor Cuomo Launches Grant Program for Projects to Support Cleaner, Greener Communities in Capital Region

$30 Million in First Round of Grants to Implement Projects for Smart Growth, Improved Energy Efficiency, Green Jobs and Greenhouse Gas Reduction

June 27, 2013

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $30 million in the first round of funding for the implementation of regional sustainability plans, including the plan recently endorsed by the Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council. The plans were developed under the governor’s $100 million Cleaner, Greener Communities program, a major statewide initiative to invest in smart growth planning and sustainability.

“This first round of funding will put each region’s sustainability plans to action,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through the Cleaner, Greener Communities program, regions across the state have developed plans from the bottom up, building on their assets and identifying needs, to create green jobs for New Yorkers while investing in projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution. These plans will help accelerate our clean energy economy and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

The Capital Region Cleaner, Greener Communities Sustainability Plan provides a framework of initiatives to reduce air, water and land pollution and improve the quality of life while supporting the creation of green job opportunities throughout the area. A consortium of dozens of municipal leaders and organizations completed the plan, which estimates that the Capital Region can realize a 25 percent per capita reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years by adopting energy efficiency standards, maximizing the use of renewable energy and enhancing the region’s multi-modal transportation network.

The plan outlines the region’s vision, goals and objectives for a sustainable future, identifies a number of regional assets and makes recommendations for building on those assets.

Capital Region plan statistics:

  • The single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the region is transportation, accounting for 36 percent of total emissions.
  • The Capital Region is home to 20 institutions of higher education that educate an average of 67,000 students annually and 24 state parks and historic sites with a combined annual attendance of more than 4 million.
  • The region is home to almost 240 LEED certified buildings, more than 30 of which are single family homes.
  • From 2000 to 2010, the Capital Region was the second fastest growing region in the state, with a growth rate of 4.8 percent.

Capital Region plan highlights:

The Capital Region Sustainability Plan provides a framework for stakeholders to improve the livability of the region through 27 priority sustainability initiatives that address climate adaption, economic development, energy, food, land use and livability, transportation, solid waste and water, including:

  • Energy code recommendation: Adopt a local energy-efficient building code that would exceed the NYS Energy Construction Code to improve the efficiency of buildings in all sectors and establish a revolving energy efficiency improvement fund. If energy efficient building codes were implemented across the region in the residential and commercial sectors, the potential reduction would be 106,520 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
  • Food and agriculture recommendation: Establish a regional food and agricultural coalition for the Capital Region to identify needs and gaps, and to advocate for the region’s agricultural sector. This includes creating a food hub for regional food processing, storage and distribution of locally-produced food products and establishing an incentive to increase food transactions involving the purchase local food. This action will contribute to the goal of increasing annual local agriculture-farm production dollars by 30 percent, or $9.48 million, by 2025.
  • Transit infrastructure recommendation: Improve transit service through technology such as signal priority and optimization, off board fare collection, vehicle tracking systems and smart card fare. Also, implement a bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvement program to create new connections and eliminate gaps between existing trails, sidewalks and bicycle facilities. If bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements were implemented across the region, the potential greenhouse gas emissions reductions would be 110,324 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
  • Codes and regulations recommendation: Modify local codes and regulations to encourage form-based codes and provisions for walkable communities, green infrastructure, green buildings and other sustainable strategies. This action will contribute to the reduction of vehicle miles traveled per capita by 20 percent, or roughly 2,300 miles per capita, by 2030; reduce stress on aging water infrastructure; and attract reinvestment in existing communities.

The complete Capital Region Sustainability Plan is available at opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

In accordance with the Cleaner, Greener Communities program objectives, the plan addresses the following subject areas: energy, transportation, land use and livable communities, waste management, water management, economic development and agriculture/forestry. In addition, each regional planning consortium conducted a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions study that calculated current GHG emissions and projected GHG reductions that would result from implementing the sustainability plan.

“Through Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program, the Capital Region will significantly improve the economic development and environmental well-being of its communities. By integrating sustainable growth strategies with regional economic development, this program can create more jobs, greater opportunity and a better quality of life for the region’s residents,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA.

A wide range of stakeholders participated in development of the Capital Region sustainability plan, including 26 consortium members from eight counties, 145 professionals in working groups and 260 participants in public workshops. Others participated in online open houses. The group received more than 800 public comments/suggestions.

The coalition was comprised of representatives from counties, municipalities and key experts in eight counties – Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington. The City of Albany led the planning process for the region.

Capital Region REDC Co-Chairs James Barba, Albany Medical Center President and CEO, and President Robert Jones, University at Albany, said, “The Cleaner, Greener Communities program is just one more critical initiative proposed by Governor Cuomo to strengthen our economy through inclusiveness and collaboration, while also improving our environment. This investment in our communities will improve the quality of life through more jobs, a cleaner environment, and a focus on sustainable practices.”

Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings said, “The City of Albany has been privileged to represent the Capital Region in the development of this unprecedented regional sustainability plan which meets all of our common goals to create a thriving economy, protect our precious resources, and improve quality of life.”

The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to spur economic development and job creation across New York State. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 REDCs to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships composed of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. As a result of the first two rounds of competitive awards, the State is supporting more than 1,450 regionally significant economic development and community revitalization projects. For more information on the Regional Councils, please visit regionalcouncils.ny.govLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

Funding for the Cleaner, Greener Communities program is through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. For more information on program, including instructions on submitting grant proposals through the Consolidated Funding Application, please visit

For further information on the Capital Region sustainability growth planning process, please contact Brita Pagels at