Governor Cuomo Launches Grant Program for Projects to Support Cleaner, Greener Communities in Western New York

$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 Western New York 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 Western New York Cleaner, Greener Communities Sustainability 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 to create a future where social and environmental issues are addressed within a framework of a sustainable regional economy. A consortium of dozens of municipal leaders and organizations completed the plan, which projects that it would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the region by 30 percent by 2020 if fully implemented.

The Western New York plan was the recipient of the Western New York American Planning Association Award for Innovation for Sustaining Places.

Western New York plan statistics:

  • Electricity consumption accounts for 48 percent of all GHG emissions in the region, despite approximately 66 percent of the total electricity generation coming from renewable sources.
  • The region’s annual total Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTs) is 9,043 miles per person, which is 6.5 percent lower than the national average.
  • The region has 406,719 acres of harvested cropland, more than 1.7 million acres of timberland, and 215,248 acres of land that has been protected from development.

Western New York plan highlights:

The Western New York sustainability plan includes 50 specific strategies to meet the goals outlined in the plan, including:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Recommendation: Reduce the total regional GHG emissions by 30 percent by 2020 from a 2010 baseline. The implementation of the strategies for each area of sustainability – energy, land use, transportation, agriculture and forestry, water resources and waste management – will work together to achieve this reduction in the region’s GHG emissions.
  • Renewable Energy Recommendation: Increase renewable energy generation to 75 percent by 2025. The region currently generates approximately 66 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In order to reach this target, the region will need to add approximately 1,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, 1,800 MW of solar energy or 650 MW of hydroelectric generation.
  • Transportation Recommendation: Increase and improve alternatives to driving alone. Through the development and enhancement of existing interagency partnerships and cooperative efforts to encourage alternative modes of transportation, the region’s annual total VMTs per person could be reduced by 3 percent by 2020.
  • Agriculture and Forestry Recommendation: Strengthen the economic viability of agriculture and forestry enterprises. Strategies to improve the regional economic viability of local agricultural and forestry enterprises include: increasing energy efficiency of farming processes; working to preserve agricultural land for farming; increasing access to local farm products through development of a Western New York Food Hub; and increasing the number of local farmers’ and cooperative markets.

The complete Western New York sustainability plan is available at

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, Western New York 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 Western New York sustainability plan, including 270 participants at public meetings and 143 stakeholders from government, community organizations and businesses in topical working groups.

The Western New York coalition was comprised of representatives from Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. Allegany County led the planning process for the region.

Satish K. Tripathi, President of University at Buffalo and Western New York REDC Co-Chair, said, “Through Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program, Western New York has developed a regional sustainability plan where social and environmental issues are addressed within a framework of a sustainable regional economy. The Western New York Sustainability Plan is the product of a region-wide planning effort where private, public, not-for-profit organizations and stakeholders from throughout the region’s communities came together to discuss the strengths of our region and to formulate goals for creating sustainable growth in the coming years.”

Howard A. Zemsky, Managing Partner at Larkin Development Group and Western New York REDC Co-Chair, said, “Our region’s sustainability plan ensures the priorities of the REDC strategy are addressed and focus areas that are critical to attaining sustainability in the area—such as energy, land use and livable communities, transportation, agriculture and forestry, water resources and waste management—are identified. This plan, thanks to the initiative of Governor Cuomo and hard work of experts and community stakeholders, will help shape our region’s economic and environmental future.”

Frederick Sinclair, Chairman of Allegany County’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, said, “This planning opportunity was timely, as the data, ideas and issues identified are closely tied to the need for economic revitalization of the Western Region. We have more than successfully plotted the path to Cleaner, Greener Communities, as the essence of the combined regional strategies will also serve as prelude to energy policy in New York State and guide the development of programs for energy and economic sustainability.”

Richard Zink, Southern Tier West Regional Planning & Development Board, said, “The future growth and development of our communities will have serious impacts on both the local and global environment. This plan represents our region’s first effort to critically consider these impacts and identify solutions. This information will help guide communities as they make decisions regarding growth and development. The strategies and implementation actions included in the plan provide next steps on both a regional and local level.”

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 Western New York sustainability growth planning process, please contact Richard Zink at