The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) defines "sustainability" as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" in their 1987 publication of Our Common Future. Sustainability has been embraced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Steve Johnson, past EPA Administrator, has stated that "we have a responsibility to sustain – if not enhance – our natural environment and our nation's economy for future generations." For more information on US EPA sustainability initiatives, please visit their SustainabilityLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. webpage


NYSERDA is committed to achieving sustainability through its mission, and has developed a staff-led task force (SustaiNYSERDA) to continually improve their energy landscape. For more information on NYSERDA's internal sustainability initiatives, please visit Sustainability at NYSERDA.

NYSERDA is also committed to helping New York achieve sustainability through a variety of program and service offerings. Municipalities across New York State have initiated community-wide sustainability strategies. They have embraced the understanding that including energy and environmental considerations in strategic planning can contribute to economic revitalization. Their strategies serve to bring the principles of sustainable practice, such as reducing energy costs, creating healthier indoor environments in schools and city buildings, reducing environmental footprint, and enhancing quality of life, to the whole community. NYSERDA provides individualized solutions for New York municipalities seeking to develop and implement community-wide sustainability initiatives.  The NYSERDA Focus on Local Government Program assists local governments with accessing funding available through NYSERDA and offers a range of services that include providing assistance related to inventorying energy use, developing and implementing energy reduction strategies, and benchmarking municipal energy management efforts. Contact your region's Energy Smart Community Coordinator for more information on NYSERDA programs to support residential and retail sustainability projects

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

In December 2009, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) expanded the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal to increase the proportion of renewable electricity consumed by New Yorkers from 25 percent to 30 percent by 2015, a goal set by Governor Paterson. The PSC ordered the major investor-owned utilities in New York State to collect revenues from ratepayers for the purpose of achieving the RPS target, with NYSERDA the designated administrator of the RPS Program. Renewable resources include solar, wind, biomass, and some hydroelectricity. In order to achieve the RPS goal, NYSERDA offers grants and incentives to help bring down the costs of these clean resources.

The RPS includes two components: a Main Tier and a Customer-Sited Tier. The Main Tier consists primarily of medium- to large-scale electric generation facilities that sell their electricity into the wholesale power market administered by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). The Customer-Sited Tier consists of "behind-the-meter" facilities that are not cost-competitive with existing large-scale generation, but have value in their potential to be located near urban load centers where power prices are higher and where localized environmental benefits and avoided distribution system upgrades would be valued highly. The Customer-Sited Tier could include residences and commercial or industrial facilities.

NYSERDA's renewable energy programs, and other information on renewable energy including solar / photovoltaic (PV) and wind power, can be found on the Power NaturallyLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. website. NYSERDA also offers guidance and incentives for the installation of Geothermal Heat Pumps.

Distributed Generation / Combined Heat and Power

Distributed generation (DG) refers to energy generated at or near the point of use, usually electricity generated with small engines or turbines. By employing DG, organizations can reduce their dependency on the power grid and thus reduce overall demand on the grid. Therefore, DG can help reduce electric power problems such as grid interruption, energy security concerns, power quality issues, and can help control energy costs. Information on distributed generation can be found at the US Department of Energy – Distributed Energy ProgramLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. website.

In its Power Systems program, NYSERDA addresses Research, Development and Demonstration needs associated with emerging distributed generation technologies. These new technologies include electricity power storage; management, communication, and interface technologies that supply the electricity grid; and supplying building or industrial loads with reliable, high quality power. The program undertakes projects designed to improve technology performance and reduce non-technical impediments and regulatory barriers to the widespread deployment of these new technologies.

During the period of transition to competitive power marketing, NYSERDA will coordinate with the State's power transmission and distribution providers and technology developers in identifying research efforts that could benefit consumers and provide more efficient, flexible, reliable, and improved transmission and distribution system capabilities. The program will continue to focus on technologies that offer consumers environmentally superior electrical power options and plans to begin addressing emerging distribution grid capacity and reliability problems.

Green Building

Green Building is the design and construction of buildings giving careful consideration to three main elements: healthy indoor environment, maximum energy efficiency and conservative, thoughtful use of natural resources. NYSERDA provides computer modeling, design coordination, assistance in obtaining LEED® certificationLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., Executive Order 111 assistance, New York State Green Buildings Tax CreditLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. assistance, green materials recommendations, commissioning and life cycle costing analysis to building design teams to help make new and rehabilitated commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings green. Green Building services are offered under the New Construction program.

For additional information on Green Building, visit the U.S. Green Building CouncilLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. website.

Last Updated: 06/12/2014