LP earns bronze Climate Smart Communities certification

LAKE PLACID — This week is Climate Week, and in honor of that, the state announced Monday that it has certified the village of Lake Placid as one of New York’s newest bronze-level “Climate Smart Communities.”

Climate Smart Communities is a state Department of Environmental Conservation program that aims to help local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Participating municipalities are given a certain number of points for each action they take, and a cumulative 120 points are needed for a bronze certification.

The village of Lake Placid now has a bronze distinction, earning 131 points from 18 completed actions, after years of work that started with the formation of a joint CSC task force between the village and the town of North Elba in 2018. Lake Placid also earned points for being involved in national climate programs and partnerships, including climate-oriented elements in the land use code and Comprehensive Plan, performing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for government operations and starting a community composting program — Placid Earth — in the Lake Placid Central School District, among other initiatives.

Lake Placid and North Elba Community Development Director Haley Breen, who’s also the village’s CSC point person, said the village’s electric department was responsible for initiating a lot of points-earning items like installing EV charging stations, shifting the village’s decorative lighting to LED-powered bulbs, purchasing electric vehicles and installing two energy-saving heat pumps.

Becoming a bronze-certified CSC comes with a host of perks, including higher scores on applications for the DEC’s annual CSC grants. This year alone, the department is awarding around $14 million in CSC grants, according to the DEC’s website.

“The (CSC) program is great because it provides actional guidance to help the village mitigate climate impacts, adapt to climate change and move toward greater sustainability and resilience,” Breen wrote in an email Monday. “The state provides numerous grant opportunities specifically for fulfilling these action items, while fulfilling them also improves eligibility for other grant opportunities.”

Breen said the village is looking to include more programs like these in its Comprehensive Plan and in initiatives with the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission.

The village was also designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York state Energy Research and Development Authority a few weeks ago, according to Breen. CEC is another points-based program and it offers awards to municipalities based on the points they’ve earned. Breen said the village is now eligible for a $5,000 award pending the approval of a clean energy project.

“This initial award is small, but municipalities can earn up to $100,000 total,” she wrote.

Breen said the town of North Elba is working toward a bronze-level CSC certification. She said the town and village plan on reconvening the CSC task force again this fall to get the town’s certification process moving.

Breen added that the town has an opportunity to work with Saranac Lake on its Community Campaign for Clean Heating and Cooling with NYSERDA. The village of Saranac Lake achieved a bronze CSC certification in 2020 after two years of work by its Climate Smart Community Task Force and local high school students.

Lake Placid’s new distinction as a bronze-level CSC was announced by the state on Monday as one of 11 communities that have recently pushed the total number of certified CSCs in the state to beyond 100.


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