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-size communities (with a population of 39,999 or less) and all county governments

Submit a copy of an executed local law, ordinance, or resolution (template legislation can be accessed in the Benchmarking toolkit)

that requires the applying jurisdiction to make available to the public on the internet on an annual basis, 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 shall include each building’s energy use intensity (EUI), annual greenhouse gas emissions, and an energy performance score where available. The legislation must require the following:

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 Portfolio Manager
  • Submit the report to the municipality through Portfolio Manager
  • Make available to the public 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 Portfolio Manager

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

Submit a copy of an executed local law, ordinance, or resolution (template legislation can be accessed in the Benchmarking toolkit) as described for small and medium-size communities above, but also include a requirement for the owners of commercial and multifamily buildings 25,000 square feet or larger to also comply.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date the legislation was fully adopted.

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 municipal 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 but not more than 36 months of energy use of the portfolio from the year(s) prior to the commencement 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 with projects that are substantially complete by the date of submission.  The documentation may include 1) an ASHRAE Energy Audit, 2) an approved pre-and-post engineering study that identifies implemented Energy Conservation Measures, 3) an executed contract or agreement, or 4) comparable information.
  • 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.
  • 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 credits.  Renewable energy credits must be certified by Green-e or be Clean Energy Standard (CES) Tier 1 and retired in the New York State Generation Attribute Tracking System (NYGATS).
  • The upgrades must have been substantially complete after January 1, 2014.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date the project achieves substantial completion.

Recommendations

  • The New York Power Authority (NYPA) provides turn-key energy efficiency upgrades to municipal 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 a completed LED Street Light Certification Form (accessed in the LED Street Lights toolkit at www.nyserda.ny.gov/cec) or comparable information demonstrating 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 cobra-head street lights to total cobra-head street lights.
  • A minimum of 10 fixtures must be converted to LED to qualify per jurisdiction.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date on which 50 percent of the streetlights or, for those communities with less than 20 streetlights, 10 fixtures were converted to LED.

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.

Requirements

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

  • Submit a completed Clean Fleets Certification Form (accessed in the Clean Fleets Toolkit) or comparable information to demonstrate municipal 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. The municipality must own or lease the equipment. Alternative fuel supply infrastructure may be used for government operations or public use.

OR

  • Submit a completed Clean Fleets Certification Form (accessed in the Clean Fleets Toolkit) or comparable information to demonstrate municipal deployment of at least one alternative fuel vehicle in the municipality’s fleet. Qualifying alternative fuel vehicles include plug-in hybrid vehicles, battery-electric vehicles, and CNG vehicles. Vehicles must be manufactured for use primarily on public streets, roads, and highways and have a maximum speed capability of at least fifty-five miles per hour. Vehicles may have been purchased or leased at any time prior to the application date, but must be active at the time of submittal.

Date of Completion

Date of completion for this action is defined as the date the equipment became operational.  

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 municipal 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 one or more of the following: a letter of commitment submitted with the Community Solar NY application, a press release, a flyer from an event hosted by the jurisdiction, a screenshot of the solarize website, newspaper article, a passed resolution, or comparable information.
  • Submit a completed Solarize Customer List (a template can be accessed in the Solarize toolkit) that includes at least ten (10) solar customers that resulted from the solarize campaign within your jurisdiction including the address, name of the installer, and either the date contract was signed, the date the project was installed, the date the installation was permitted, or the date the NY Sun incentive application was submitted.

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 completed Solarize Customer List (a template can be accessed in the Solarize toolkit) that includes at least ten (10) solar customers that resulted from the solarize campaign within your jurisdiction including the address, name of the installer, and either the date contract was signed, the date the project was installed, the date the installation was permitted, or the date the NY Sun incentive application was submitted.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date on which the Solarize campaign was launched.

Recommendations

  • Team up with individuals, organizations, and nearby jurisdictions that are willing and able to conduct community-wide education and outreach around solar energy
  • Pass a local resolution in support of 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:

  • Submit a copy of an executed local law, ordinance, or resolution adopting the New York State Unified Solar Permit (the permit can be accessed in the Unified Solar Permit toolkit at www.nyserda.ny.gov/cec)
  • Submit a copy of the Unified Solar Permit being used by the applying jurisdiction.
  • Please note that an updated version of the New York State Unified Solar Permit was released in October 2016. NYSERDA will only accept the new version of the permit.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date on which the Unified Solar Permit was adopted.

Recommendations

  • Review the NY-Sun Solar Guidebook for Local Governments which is a useful reference containing supporting documents for local governments and code officials. In addition to the New York State Unified Solar Permit, the guidebook includes topics such as roof top solar access requirements for firefighters and first responders, information on the Real Property Tax Law 487 exempting solar PV systems, a fact sheet for Agricultural Districts, a fact sheet for landowners considering solar leases, information on land use planning, and a model solar energy law.  
  • Consider a flat fee that fairly reflects the time needed for municipal staff to review and issue the solar permit.
  • Post information on your website about the permit application process including timelines for permit application review and issuance.
  • Read the Unified Solar Permit 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
  • The Clean Energy Communities Energy Code Enforcement Training Module begins with a preliminary orientation meeting is followed by collaborative plans review and joint onsite inspection (the footing and foundation inspection and the final inspection are not eligible) of two (2) building projects, followed by a close-out meeting summarizing the results of the module, including key considerations and guidance for moving forward.
  • The local code enforcement officer and at least two other municipal staff, officials, or planning board and zoning board of appeals members must participate in the preliminary meeting and close-out meeting, except for communities with a population of less than 5,000 where only the local code enforcement officer must attend. The entire building department staff is encouraged to participate in all aspects of the training.
  • Submit a copy of the notification of completion email, or comparable information to earn credit for this action.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date of certification.

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 a screenshot of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) website or comparable information, that demonstrates your community has been listed as a Certified Climate Smart Community at the certified, bronze, silver or gold level.  
  • For communities that have already been listed as Certified Climate Smart Communities, achieving a higher level of Climate Smart Communities Certification after August 1, 2016 shall be counted as a new action.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date on which NYSDEC provides notification to the community regarding its achievement of a certification level.

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 CCA action by submitting the following documentation:

  • Submit a copy of the adopted legislation authorizing the municipality’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 default 100% renewable clean energy product mix.  Renewable energy credits must be certified by Green-e or be Clean Energy Standard (CES) Tier 1 and retired in the New York State Generation Attribute Tracking System (NYGATS).
  • For communities that are already part of a CCA, executing an addendum to the electric services agreement after August 1, 2016 to switch to a default 100% renewable clean energy product mix shall be counted as a new action.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date on which the electric service agreement or addendum is fully executed.

Recommendations

  • Consider teaming up with other nearby municipalities 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 Energize NY Finance action by submitting the following documentation:

  • Submit a copy of the official letter from the Energy Improvement Corporation (EIC) confirming the local government's EIC membership or a screenshot of EIC’s Participating Municipalities webpage that shows the applying jurisdiction listed as a current member.

Date of Completion

  • Date of completion for this action is defined as the date the local government became an EIC member.

Recommendations

  • If you are interested in establishing an Energize NY 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 Finance toolkit for templates, fact sheets, and other resources