Lake Placid forms Climate Smart Community Task Force

LAKE PLACID — The village Board of Trustees announced the formation of a Climate Smart Community Task Force at Monday night’s meeting.

Climate Smart Communities is a state Department of Environmental Conservation program where municipalities and organizations can earn certification levels based on actions that reduce the effects of climate change and are energy efficient.

The village board appointed Trustee Jason Leon as the task force coordinator. He’ll act as the liaison between the board and a group of environmentalists made up of local students, government officials, scientists, teachers and community leaders.

“I’m excited that it’s received full board support,” Leon said. “I’m fortunate and excited that there is a stable of people who are passionate about this.

Two of the task force members are Brendan Wiltse of the AuSable River Association and Tammy Morgan, a Lake Placid High School science teacher who also advises the school’s environmental club.

“Everyone on the task force has some sort of function that can make this process go by efficiently,” Leon said.

Some of the initiatives with the program include decreasing energy use, supporting a green initiative economy, and informing and inspiring the public. Those may sound a little broad, but Leon said the task force already has some projects in mind specific to Lake Placid.

“One of the projects we’re looking at right now is an energy study on the streetlights around the village and possibly replacing them with LED lights,” Leon said. “Streetlights are a significant source of energy usage, and this could help reduce that.”

“We’re also very fortunate that our community has control over its electric department,” Leon continued, “so we can easily pull data from that source.”

The Climate Smart Communities program is similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program, in which the village is already involved. With LEED, buildings are judged on their carbon footprints through a bronze, silver and gold medal rating system. For example, the Lake Placid Conference Center is LEED gold certified and has the plaque on the entrance to prove it.

Right now, New York has 250 communities registered in the Climate Smart program; 17 have reached the bronze level, and four have reached silver. It takes 120 points to achieve bronze. Because many of the LEED and Climate Smart initiatives overlap — such as audits on government building energy use and solid waste — Lake Placid is already at 65 points on the Climate Smart scale.

“We may very well be able to achieve bronze by the end of the year,” Leon said. “We could possibly be silver by the time the 2023 Winter World University Games roll around.”

Other members of the task force include Trustee Peter Holderied, village Electric Superintendent Kimball Daby, Tupper Lake Wild Center Climate and Communities Coordinator Erin Griffin, Lake Placid High School students Elise Pearson and Hayden Plank, North Country School/Camp Treetops Director of Facilities and Sustainability John Culpepper, Lake Placid Middle School math teacher Holly Thomas, Green Goddess Natural Foods co-owner Wynde Kate and village Mayor Craig Randall.

“This task force is necessary in my mind because of the fact that climate change is real,” Leon added. “It’s a win-win for the community, environment, taxpayer and the future.”

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