High Impact Action Items

Local governments must complete four of the following 10 High Impact Actions to earn a Clean Energy Community designation and qualify to apply for grant funding. At least two actions must be completed after August 1, 2016.

A toolkit is available for each High Impact Action. Local government leaders and employees can email a Clean Energy Communities Coordinator at cec@nyserda.ny.gov for assistance navigating the program.

Benchmarking - Adopt a policy to report the energy use of buildings

Benchmarking is a policy that a local government adopts that requires the annual reporting of energy used in local government buildings and, in large municipalities, also requires the annual disclosure of energy used in large private buildings. It’s important because buildings account for more than 60% of the energy used in New York State. Setting up a system for measuring and sharing data on building energy use over time will allow owners and occupants to compare energy usage against other buildings, and better identify opportunities to cut energy waste. Collecting, reporting, and sharing benchmarking data regularly also helps the public and government agencies make smarter investment decisions, reward efficiency, and drive widespread, continuous improvement.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Benchmarking action by submitting the following documentation:

For small and medium communities (with a population of 39,999 or less) and all county governments

Submit a copy of adopted legislation that requires the applying jurisdiction to make available publicly, annually, and on the internet energy use information for each municipal building that is owned or occupied by the applying jurisdiction that is 1,000 square feet or larger.  At a minimum, publicly disclosed energy use information will include each building’s energy use intensity (EUI), annual greenhouse gas emissions, and an energy performance score where available. The legislation must require the applying jurisdiction to:

Benchmark

  • Create an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Account
  • Gather basic information required by Portfolio Manager and set up property profile(s)
  • Obtain monthly, whole building energy use data for all fuel types including, but not limited to, electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, chilled water, steam, and diesel
  • Enter property uses and details into profile(s)
  • Enter energy use data for all fuel types

Report

  • Generate and review the building’s report in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
  • Submit the report to the municipality through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
  • Make available publicly and on the internet annual summary statistics for each covered property including Energy Use Intensity (EUI), annual greenhouse gas emissions, an energy performance score where available, and other descriptive information as required by ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

For large cities, towns, and villages (with a population of 40,000+ or more)

Submit a copy of adopted legislation as described for small communities above, but also include a requirement for the owners of commercial and multifamily buildings 25,000 square feet or larger to also comply.

Recommendations

  • Use benchmarking data to streamline outreach efforts to building owners about specific efficiency programs
  • Read the benchmarking toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources

Clean Energy Upgrades - Achieve 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings

Clean Energy Upgrades are energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in local government buildings and facilities. By replacing outdated equipment with new smart and efficient technology, local governments are well positioned to save energy and money over time. State programs can help get these projects accomplished with no or low up-front cost while generating net savings to your bottom line. Everything from municipal headquarters to public works facilities, fire stations, police precincts, parks facilities, and even water treatment plants are good candidates for upgrades. Perhaps most important, Clean Energy Upgrades show leadership and contribute to building healthier, more vibrant communities.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Clean Energy Upgrades action by submitting the following documentation:

  • Submit an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking report including energy use information for each local government building that is owned or occupied by the applying jurisdiction that is 1,000 square feet or larger.  The report shall include each building’s energy use intensity (EUI), annual greenhouse gas emissions, and an energy performance score where available. The report should cover at least 12 months of energy use of the portfolio from the year prior to the date of the upgrades as the baseline. 
  • Submit succinct and relevant documentation that demonstrates a minimum 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions against the baseline. The documentation may include an ASHRAE Energy Audit or an approved pre-and-post engineering study that identifies implemented Energy Conservation Measures.
  • Submit a Clean Energy Upgrades Calculator, available in the Clean Energy Upgrades toolkit. Please be sure to complete the most recent version of the calculator. Information requested will include, but is not limited to, specific equipment or infrastructure upgrades and estimated energy savings of implemented measures.
  • Up to half of the required reduction in greenhouse gas emissions may be achieved with renewable energy sources including solar, wind, geothermal, premium-efficiency wood pellets, anaerobic digester gas, or renewable energy attributes or credits certified by green-e
  • The upgrades must have been substantially complete after January 1, 2014

Recommendations

  • The New York Power Authority (NYPA) provides turn-key energy efficiency upgrades to local government buildings of qualifying jurisdictions.  Working closely with your team, NYPA and their contractors handle every aspect of design and construction. NYPA offers low-interest rate financing and projects can typically be accomplished with no or low up-front cost while generating net savings to your bottom line.
  • Energy performance contracts can also be used to procure energy savings and facility improvements with no or low up-front capital costs
  • Consult your utility to identify incentives that may be available for energy efficiency improvements
  • Read the clean energy upgrades toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources

LED Street Lights - Convert street lights to energy efficient LED technology

By replacing conventional street lights with energy efficient LED technology, communities can reduce street light energy use by as much as 65 percent, generating cost savings and emission reductions. In addition, street light projects can contribute to creating a well-lit, safer, and more attractive community. LED street lights last up to 100,000 hours and require much less maintenance than conventional ones. The opportunity to incorporate smart, connected technology such as dimming functions, enhanced law enforcement response, and parking management offers a world of possibilities. Even those communities that do not own their streetlights have options for converting those in their jurisdiction to LED.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the LED Street Lights action by submitting the following documentation:

  • Submit documentation showing that a minimum of 50 percent of all municipal and utility-owned cobra-head style street lights have been converted to LED within the geographic jurisdiction. This documentation should include the number of street lights converted, including the proportion of converted street lights to total street lights.
  • A minimum of 10 fixtures must be converted to LED to qualify

Recommendations

  • Consult with NYSERDA regarding which LED conversion and technology options make the most sense to meet your economic and operational goals
  • Check with your utility regarding options for converting street lights to LED
  • Local governments that do not own their own street lights may pursue a negotiated agreement with their utility for transfer of ownership of the complete system of street lights and supporting infrastructure
  • Energy performance contracts may be used to upgrade street light systems with no or low up-front capital costs
  • The New York Power Authority (NYPA) offers a program to convert street lights to LEDs using low-interest rate financing. Email cec@nyserda.ny.gov for more information.
  • Read the LED street light toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources

Clean Fleets - Install electric vehicle charging stations or deploy alternative fuel vehicles

Clean Fleets is an effort by local governments to invest in alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure while increasing opportunities for constituents to access electric vehicle charging stations. Compared to gasoline-powered cars, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are more energy efficient and cost about 50 to 70% less to operate per mile. Clean vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants that cause smog and acid rain. Charging stations are being installed at a wide variety of locations across New York State. In communities large and small, urban and rural, there are sites well-suited to hosting charging stations. Simple and consistent EV charging station permitting processes can cut costs and reduce delays associated with installing charging stations.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Clean Fleets action by submitting the following documentation:

  • Submit documentation to demonstrate local government provision of at least one electric vehicle charging station or compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station. Electric vehicle charging stations must consist of either two (2) or more Level 2 charging ports or one (1) or more DC fast charge ports. Equipment may have been installed at any time prior to the application date, but must be active at the time of submittal. A public entity located wholly within the applying jurisdiction (i.e. a local parking authority) must own or lease the equipment. Alternative fuel supply infrastructure may be used for government operations or public use.

OR

  • Submit a copy of documentation to demonstrate deployment of at least one alternative fuel vehicle in the local government's fleet. Qualifying alternative fuel vehicles include plug-in electric vehicles, CNG vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Vehicles may be light-duty, medium duty, or heavy-duty vehicles. Vehicles may have been purchased at any time prior to the application date, but must be active at the time of submittal.

Recommendations

  • Applicants should gauge local and regional demand for alternative fueling stations and consider the most appropriate fuel type for the area
  • The first step in supporting alternative fuel transportation infrastructure is assessing the demand for and feasibility of an alternative fueling station
  • Read the clean fleets toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources

Solarize - Undertake a local solarize campaign to increase the number of solar rooftops

Solarize is a short-term (approximately 6-9 months, including planning and outreach), local effort that brings together groups of potential solar customers through widespread outreach and education. This model helps customers choose a solar installation company that is offering competitive, transparent pricing. Historically, Solarize campaigns lower the cost of solar 10 to 20 percent. After a thorough pre-qualification process, a designated solar installer(s) will be named for the campaign. Residents and businesses who sign up for solar installations by a specific deadline will be able to take advantage of group rates below market prices. The more customers who sign up, the lower the price will be for everyone. Well-organized Solarize campaigns are a great way to support solar while being active and visible in your community.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Solarize action as follows:

  • Submit documentation to demonstrate direct local government participation in previous rounds of NYSERDA Community Solar NY. To earn credit for this action, the Solarize campaign must have been launched after January 1, 2014. Documentation may include, but is not limited to, a letter of commitment submitted with the Community Solar NY application, a press release, flyers from an event in the jurisdiction, a screenshot of the solarize website, newspaper article, or adopted resolution.
  • Submit a list of at least ten (10) solar installations that resulted from the solarize campaign within your jurisdiction including, but not limited to, location, installer, date contract was signed, type of financing, and date contract was canceled if applicable

OR

  • For new Solarize campaigns, before you start the planning process, please send an email to cec@nyserda.ny.gov to ensure all NYSERDA requirements are met to earn credit for this action, including those outlined in the Solarize Scoping Document Terms and Conditions
  • Submit a completed Solarize Campaign Scoping Document, available in the Solarize toolkit. Please be sure to complete the most recent version. The scoping document will detail the campaign’s goals and objectives, roles and responsibilities of project partners, deliverables, and milestones. The applicant shall sign off on the Terms and Conditions included with the Scoping Document to earn credit for this action.
  • Submit a list of at least ten (10) solar customers that resulted from the solarize campaign within your jurisdiction including, but not limited to, the location, installer, date contract was signed, type of financing, and date contract was canceled if applicable

 

Recommendations

  • Team up with individuals, organizations, and nearby jurisdictions that are willing and able to conduct community-wide education and outreach around solar energy
  • Consider incorporating Shared Solar projects into your campaign. NYSERDA’s Shared Renewables initiative (also referred to as community distributed generation) provides opportunities for renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools, and businesses to join together to set up shared solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects.
  • Adopt a local resolution in support for the Solarize campaign
  • Read the Solarize toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources

Unified Solar Permit - Streamline the approvals process for solar

The Unified Solar Permit is a standardized permit application designed to streamline the approval process for installing solar in the community. The standardized permit is expected to cut costs by creating a uniform permitting process in municipalities across the State. As local governments adopt the permit, installers and communities alike will save time and resources permitting solar electric systems. An expedited process will allow these standard systems to pass quickly though the jurisdictional review process, freeing up time for all involved parties, decreasing the overall installation time for customers, and allowing non-standard systems the necessary time for detailed review.

Requirements

If you’re interested in adopting the Unified Solar Permit, email cec@nyserda.ny.gov. If your community has already adopted the Unified Solar permit, you can demonstrate completion by:

  • Submitting a copy of the notification of eligibility email from NYSERDA indicating the jurisdiction is eligible to receive the Streamlined Permitting PV incentive (formerly known as Cleaner, Greener Communities Category 1)

OR

  • Submitting a copy of NYSERDA’s official list of communities that have adopted the Unified Solar Permit showing that the applying jurisdiction is listed. This list is available in the Unified Solar Permit toolkit.

Recommendations

  • Adopt the permit as a way to reduce the amount of time both applicants and the building department spend applying for, reviewing, and issuing permits
  • Consider a flat fee that fairly reflects the time needed for local government staff to review and issue a permit
  • Post information about the permit application process online including timelines for permit application review and issuance
  • Read the Unified Solar toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources

Energy Code Enforcement Training - Train compliance officers in energy code best practices

The Energy Code is a minimum building standard for energy efficiency, applicable to new construction and renovation of commercial and residential buildings in New York State. The Energy Code is a complex document and one of nine building codes in New York State, making implementation and enforcement complex and time consuming. Since buildings represent roughly 60% of New York’s total energy consumption, there is significant opportunity for energy savings through improved Energy Code compliance. This training focuses on what code enforcement officials need to know about the Energy Code in the context of its practical application on active construction projects.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Energy Code Enforcement Training action as follows:

  • Enroll in the Clean Energy Communities Energy Code Enforcement Training Module by sending an email to cec@nyserda.ny.gov
  • Take part in a preliminary meeting between the NYSERDA training provider, the local code enforcement officer and at least two other local government officials followed by collaborative plans review and joint onsite inspection of two (2) building projects in the community. The entire building department staff is encouraged to participate.
  • Participate in a presentation by the NYSERDA Training Provider summarizing results of the module, including key considerations and guidance for moving forward. Once complete, you will receive a notification of completion email from the NYSERDA Training Provider.
  • Submit a copy of this notification of completion email to earn credit for this action

Recommendations

Climate Smart Communities Certification - Get certified by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

The Climate Smart Communities Certification (CSC) program provides local governments with a robust framework to guide their climate action and enables high-performing communities to achieve recognition for their leadership. Designed around the CSC pledge elements, the certification program recognizes communities for their accomplishments through a rating system leading to four levels of award: Certified, Bronze, Silver and Gold.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Climate Smart Communities Certification action by submitting the following documentation:

  • Submit documentation that demonstrates your community has been listed as a Certified Climate Smart Community at the certified, bronze, silver or gold level on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) website

Recommendations

Community Choice Aggregation - Put energy supply choices in your community’s hands

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is an energy procurement model that replaces the utility as the default supplier of electricity for virtually all homes and small businesses within your jurisdiction. CCA puts control of choosing energy supply in local hands. By pooling demand, communities build the clout necessary to negotiate lower rates with private suppliers, and are able to choose cleaner energy. A CCA can allow whole communities to participate in the clean energy economy by ensuring that a greater percentage of electricity is coming from renewable sources. CCA has the potential to simultaneously deliver lower monthly bills and cleaner energy for your constituents.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Community Choice Aggregation action by submitting the following documentation:

  • Submit a copy of the adopted legislation authorizing the community’s participation in an opt-out CCA program.
  • Submit a copy of an executed electric service agreement between the applying jurisdiction and an energy services company (ESCO) to supply electricity to participating customers on an opt-out basis that is a 100% renewable clean energy product mix, to be produced in North America and certified by Green-e.

Recommendations

  • Consider teaming up with other nearby communities and allowing a local or regional group to administer the CCA program
  • Read the Community Choice Aggregation toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources

Energize New York Finance - Offer energy upgrade financing to businesses and non-profits

Energize NY Finance, also known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing, is a program adopted by an eligible local government that allows property owners to pay back the cost of clean energy upgrades to their commercial or non-profit property through a special charge on their property tax bill. Energize NY Finance enables eligible commercially-owned buildings in New York State to secure funds to tackle significant energy upgrades and renewable energy projects. This financing structure is available through the Energy Improvement Corporation (EIC) for projects that aim to install permanent improvements that reduce energy costs in existing buildings. EIC is a local development corporation and a New York State nonprofit established specifically to assist local government and property owners achieve long-term energy savings and/or generate renewable power for use on site.

Requirements

Demonstrate completion of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing action by submitting the following documentation:

  • A copy of the adopted legislation authorizing the local government to establish an Energize NY Finance Program
  • A copy of an executed Energy Improvement Corporation (EIC)/Municipal Agreement
  • A copy of a letter confirming EIC membership

Recommendations

  • If you are interested in establishing a PACE Financing program, please contact the Energy Improvement Corporation at (914) 302-7300 or by email at info@energizeny.org
  • If your local government has been allocated Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs), consider using them in support of your Energize NY Finance program
  • Read the Energize New York toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources