Climate Smart Task Force (CSTF)

Climate Smart Bronze Certification logo

Climate Smart logo color

The Town of Poughkeepsie has achieved initial Climate Smart Certification!

Read the full press release detailing this exciting milestone. 


The Climate Smart The Task Force meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 pm, and meetings currently take place via Zoom. Zoom meeting details are provided on the town calendar. Please see posted agenda for more information, and watch for us to return to the Town Hall. A summary of each meeting can be found below, and full minutes are available using the link above.

Several Wind Turbines in a sunset
  1. Susan Karnes Hecht

    CSTF Committee Chair

  1. Katherine Espinosa

    CSTF - Member

  1. Joan Freeman

    CSTF - Member

  1. Richard Levine

    CSTF - Member

  1. Stanley Merritt

    CSTF - Member

  1. Kristen E. Taylor, AICP


  1. Ann Shershin

    Sixth Ward

  1. Thomas Lynch

    CSTF - Member

What are Climate Smart Communities?

CliNew York State Climate Smart Communities Logomate Smart Communities is a New York State program that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

Climate Smart Communities began in 2009 as an interagency initiative of New York State. The program is sponsored jointly by six New York State agencies: Department of Environmental Conservation; Energy Research and Development Authority or NYSERDA; Department of Public Service; Department of State; Department of Transportation; and Department of Health. The Department of Environmental Conservation acts as the main administrator of the program.

The original focus of the program was on encouraging local governments to commit to act on climate change by passing a resolution containing the Climate Smart Pledge. The certification program was added in 2014 and provides specific guidance on how to implement the pledge. Certified communities are leaders, going beyond the pledge by completing and documenting a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level. Communities earn points toward certification for each action they complete. In addition to accumulating points, each community must complete a number of mandatory and priority actions at each level of certification.

The Town of Poughkeepsie is one of almost 350 registered communities; together these communities represent more than 8 million residents. The Town Board pledged to become a Climate Smart Community (PDF) on 4-18-18 and passed a second resolution creating a dedicated Climate Smart Task Force (PDF) on 7-10-19. In September 2021 the Town became one of 72 Bronze-certified communities.

Our town has committed to:

  • Set goals, inventory emissions, and plan for climate action

  • Decrease community energy use

  • Increase community use of renewable energy

  • Realize the benefits of recycling and other climate-smart solid waste management practices

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through use of climate-smart land tools

  • Enhance community resilience and prepare for the effects of climate change

  • Support development of a green innovation economy

  • Inform and inspire the public

  • Commit to an evolving process of climate action

A photo of someone holding a leaf that is half burned showing extremes in climate.

What actions has the Town of Poughkeepsie taken related to climate change mitigation and adaptation?

Mitigation means making the impacts of climate change less severe by preventing or reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.  Adaptation means adjusting to the current and future effects of climate change.  The Town has…

  • Committed to become a Climate Smart Community
  • Adopted a Climate Change Education and Engagement Plan as a roadmap for public participation in this process.
  • Created an updated Comprehensive Plan with sustainability elements.
  • Completed a Natural Resources Inventory and is in the process of developing a resulting Open Space Plan with public input.
  • Completed a climate change vulnerability assessment to support planning along with a climate change resiliency plan.
  • Completed a set of Climate Smart Resiliency recommendations 
  • Installed LED street lights and a solar array on the Town Hall roof to save electricity and shift to clean, renewable energy.
  • Completed a baseline inventory of its municipal fleet in order to support the process of transitioning to electric vehicles over time.  
  • Encouraged the preservation of open space and natural features through the implementation of a cluster subdivision policy
  • Incorporated Smart Growth principles into land-use policies and regulations.
  • Promoted Green Parking Lot standards in the Arlington Town Center District zoning regulations,
  • Added infrastructure for biking and walking with the Raymond Avenue redesign and is currently working on the Main Street redesign.
  • Provided both curbside and drop-off options for composting yard waste.
  • Engaged in brownfield cleanup of three sites.
  • Supported and participated in the Arlington Farmers’ Market
  • Created this web page and related social media to inform and engage our community.
  • Initiated a Solar for All campaign to support access to community solar for income-eligible households.
  • Completed several actions that will qualify for Clean Energy Communities, a separate NYS program including adoption of the Unified Solar Permit to streamline permitting for installation of solar.  

How can residents and businesses participate in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build community resiliency?

  • Attend public meetings to learn about and comment on the Open Space Plan.
  • Volunteer for the Conservation Advisory Commission or Climate Smart Task Force.
  • Contact your Town Board representative to request and help with efforts such as neighborhood park upgrades.
  • Businesses that have installed EV chargers, or are interested in learning more about the how-to’s and available incentives, should contact the Climate Smart Task Force to get involved.
  • Get involved in the Pollinator Pathway!  Plant native pollinator plants, eliminate chemicals, and rethink your lawn. 
  • Income-eligible residents(owners and renters) can take advantage of the Solar for All Campaign:  reduce your electric bill while supporting the transition to green energy - nothing to put on your roof! Email Danielle Salisbury or call 845-677-8223, x138 (se habla Espanol). Or visit the NYSERDA - Solar For All page.

Solar for All flyer on how to get information and apply for Solar in English and Spanish.

What individual actions can residents and businesses take to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions? 

What are some climate change resources?

Free Home Energy Upgrades CCEDC for Spanish resources

Climate Smart Communities (Comunidades Climáticamente Inteligente) es un programa del Estado de Nueva York que ayuda a los gobiernos locales tomar acciones para reducir emisiones de gases de efecto invernaderos y adaptar a un clima que cambia constantemente. El pueblo de Poughkeepsie es uno de 313 comunidades registrado en este programa; juntas, estas comunidades representan mas que 8 millones de personas.

 ¿Qué puede hacer una persona o negocio para reducir su propio emisiones de gases de efecto invernaderos? 

¿Qué son algunos recursos sobre el cambio climático?

  • Contactar su Consejera Comunitaria de Energía y aprender como dueños de casa y los que rentan pueden ahorrar dinero y energía en la casa.

Climate Smart Task Force meeting summaries - look how far we've come!

  1. 2021
  2. 2020
  3. 2019

October 2021 Update

This month we celebrated our huge achievement:  Bronze certification!  We reviewed all of the actions that we currently have in process to move forward towards the next level.  The Town has completed the Comprehensive Plan update and should complete the Open Space Plan by the end of the year.  We are still awaiting initiation of "CAPI Dutchess" - the Climate Action Planning Institute - in which we will partner with several other towns to complete an inventory of municipal greenhouse gas emissions. Each town will complete its own inventory, working together using proven strategies, which will lead to a plan for reduction.We are looking at ways to upgrade recycling in our municipal buildings.  And we are especially focused on helping the Town to install EV charging infrastructure at municipal sites, for our residents as well as to facilitate the Town transitioning its fleet to EVs over time.  

Many of the actions being completed for Climate Smart also qualify the Town for credit in the Clean Energy Communities program, a separate NYS effort.  Once we complete our SOLAR FOR ALL campaign (see info above on this page) we will qualify for a significant grant from the State that can be used to further our efforts.

September 2021 Update

We continue to await a response to our application for initial certification; however, we know that several new or revised actions have been approved. In addition, the town’s NRI/Open Space Plan will be completed late 2021; the Comprehensive Plan will be voted on by the Board in the fall.  Both of these major actions will go towards a higher certification level, as will the Unified Solar Permit (completed) and Solar for All campaign (when completed). We await the delayed initiation of CAPI Dutchess. The Task Force hopes to move forward regarding the town fleet, to start to identify opportunities for rightsizing and EV transition.   

The Hudson Valley Regional Council announced a Clean Energy Communities Institute, which will create a 12-month program with a monthly focus on one selected high impact action for which extra resources will be provided to communities. We have already fulfilled some of these actions; this fall we hope to learn more about the New York Stretch Code and Energy Code Enforcement Training. 

We are also looking into the possibility of partnering with other communities for an EV education and group purchase program coordinated by Sustainable Hudson Valley. 

August 2021 Update

We anticipate a response to our Climate Smart Certification submission by 8/27/21 - we hope to receive good news and follow up with a press release.

Our August meeting was our first in-person meeting in a very long time.  We reviewed all of the actions in process that will potentially figure into the next certification level. In addition to existing plans for our Natural Resources Inventory/Open Space Plan, Comprehensive Plan, and CAPI Dutchess, we have been approached by Vassar College as a stakeholder for a community resilience assessment. 

In parallel with Climate Smart, the town continues to progress towards Clean Energy Communities goals by virtue of completing relevant actions, many of which overlap with Climate Smart (in fact, receiving initial certification is in and of itself a step towards the additional designation).  We have also been approved for our Unified Solar Permit and LED Lights.  Certain high-impact actions, as well as overall point totals, have the potential to bring a substantial amount of grant money to the Town. 

Our task force member Tom Lynch is now engaged with Hudson 7 (Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council). He reported extensively from the July meeting, where crucial and pressing issues impacting our drinking water were discussed.

We are making plans to see you at the Arlington Street Fair, scheduled for 9/18.  

July 2021 Update 

Following a month of focused work, we were thrilled and elated to submit our completed, updated application for initial “Bronze” level Climate Smart Communities Certification during our meeting. The group reviewed all of the updates and – although virtually – was present to click on the “submit” button in the New York State portal.  We took a few moments to savor and celebrate all that has been accomplished! We then reviewed additional actions already in the Town pipeline that will bring additional points (which, we hope, will set us on the path to “Silver” level certification).  These include:

  • Participation in the Dutchess Climate Action Planning Institute which will begin shortly
  • Working with the Town staff and board to adopt the Unified Solar Permit (also an action for Clean Energy Communities)
  • Completion and adoption of the Comprehensive Plan with sustainability elements
  • Completion of the Open Space Plan and adoption of the Plan and Natural Resources inventory
  • Completion of the Solar for All community campaign

The group also intends to begin working in earnest on supporting EV charging infrastructure in the Town and looks forward to hosting a public event for business owners later this year.  

It will be several weeks until we receive a decision on our application.  Watch this space for news!

June 2021 update 

Beverly Santero resigned from the Task Force due to her plan to move out of the area. Susan spoke with the Town Supervisor, we can work towards appointing a new member but in the meantime the focus is on resubmission.  

Our new liaison for Clean Energy Communities is Eleanor Peck; she was previously the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Beacon and functioned as the CSC Chair, so she is very familiar with the municipal end of the process.  Susan met with Eleanor to review our CSC application following this meeting. Numerous updates are being made to our application at this time.

We discussed the need to encourage the Town Board to follow through with approval of the proposed Climate Change Education and Engagement Plan and Unified Solar Permit, as well as to support the Solar for All campaign.

May 2021 Update          

We reviewed our initial certification submission. Currently we have 108 points overall of the 120 required, 2 of 2 mandatory actions, and 2 of 3 priority actions. The next submission date, and the final one for 2021, is 7/2/21. Our focus in the short term is on this deadline, and this meeting produced a “punch list” to accomplish this.   

The new Town website is expected to launch within days. Susan was given access and training and will be able to accomplish the needed updates to our page to qualify for this action. 

We discussed the need to move forward with planning an EV event for business owners particularly in light of the federal and state push to add infrastructure. Following resubmission, this should be our next focus. We already have extensive lists of existing charger locations and business types that should be approached. We will develop a script for reaching out to the former, first, to ask for their participation.  

We’ve collected more background information on local composting.

April 2021 update 

The Climate Smart Task Force is moving forward in a robust fashion! This month, we reviewed the Office of Climate Change’s response to our initial application for certification, which was submitted in January.   Due to pandemic-related delays, as expected, we were unable to complete several actions within their original time frames. However, we are optimistic about being able to revise and update several items, as well as provide additional actions, in time for a July resubmission.  

 Our Solar for All community campaign has been approved by NYSERDA, and the campaign is formally launching on April 1st, to be completed by the end of June. We are doing an initial information push through town media channels and local partner organizations.  This is an action for Climate Smart as well as a potential high-impact action for Clean Energy Communities which could lead to a grant for the town to pursue additional clean energy upgrades. Solar for All is a utility bill assistance program to advance the scale-up of solar and move NYS closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. The program offers income- eligible households the opportunity to subscribe to a community solar project in their area without paying any costs or fees. Residents that have participated in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and EmPower NY are already income-qualified for the program.  For more information on Solar for All eligibility or to receive assistance with sign up, please contact Danielle Salisbury, Community Energy Advisor (Cornell Cooperative Extension) at (845) 677-8223 ext 138. 

 We are participating in a county-wide discussion about the feasibility of collaborating on a composting site. Stay tuned for more as this develops.  

We continue to push forward to back the development of EV charging infrastructure not only on municipal property, but also in our business community.  Our goal is to create a group of town business owners who either have experience with installing charging stations, or are interested in doing so, to support this process.  If you are business owner with interest in this area, please contact us. 

March 2021 update 

We learned that our application for initial certification, while not yet approved, did qualify for 108 of the required 120 points for completed actions.  Considering that several robust actions that would bring this to fruition have been delayed by up to a year due to Covid and other factors outside of the Town, task force members are very pleased with what has been accomplished so far.  A great deal of specific feedback on our application was provided which will serve to inform our next submission, and we continue to anticipate reaching the requirement during this calendar year. 

 This month the task force had a very productive meeting with a representative of NYSERDA’s Transportation Group.  We learned a great deal about strategies and incentives to promote EV ownership and infrastructure in both public and private sectors and are enthusiastic about bringing this information to our Town Board and business owners. 

On 3/10/21 our Clean Energy Communities liaison from the Hudson Valley Regional Council will address the Committee of the Whole in order to help us all be educated about CEC opportunities, how they overlap with the Climate Smart program, and how they can position the town for grants.

February 2021 update 

While awaiting feedback from the NYS Office of Climate Change regarding our application for initial “Bronze” certification, the Task Force continues to work on planning additional actions. One focus is the area of EV charging infrastructure, and how we can help to educate both our business community and our elected officials and town staff in this area. Next month, we’ll host a speaker from NYSERDA to help us identify appropriate steps. 

 We’ve started to discuss Clean Energy Communities, a separate NYS program with its own actions and point system which can position us for grants to do further work. The CEC program has just been reissued with updated actions. Several Climate Smart actions overlap CEC, including obtaining our certification. We plan to invite our CEC liaison from the Hudson Valley Regional Council, who has extensive expertise, to address key town stakeholders in order to create shared context for any discussion of pursuing the separate designation.  

The Dutchess Climate Action Planning Institute, delayed several months, remains imminent. Currently the municipalities involved await completion of final contract steps involving the Dept. of Environmental Conservation.  

There is a beginning discussion about composting occurring across Climate Smart representatives from several communities in Dutchess…please stay tuned for an update. 

On the lighter side, we reviewed Climate Smart logo designs submitted by the Graphic Arts students in DCC’s Service Learning program.  We have several strong contenders and will soon have our own logo gracing our web page and other communications. Opportunities for students to support us, while also honing pre-professional skills, are an added benefit to our work.

January 2021 update

 A major milestone was reached at our January 7th meeting, when we submitted our application for initial “Bronze” certification to the NYS Office of Climate Change.  The Task Force is extremely grateful to its members whose hard work has brought us to this juncture and to the Town personnel who supported our efforts. A period of several weeks is expected to elapse before we receive a formal response, and it is anticipated that some “completed” actions may require further documentation. It is also anticipated that we will have additional completions to add to our application at that point, in time for the next submission deadline in April. We will continue to move forward with planned actions nonetheless and look ahead to the next certification level.  We’ll take some steps to publicize this wonderful accomplishment to our community.