Climate Smart Task Force (CSTF)

Climate Smart Bronze Certification logo

Climate Smart logo color




This report was presented to the Town Board on 9/13,

and we welcome your comments to:

This Report is a significant milestone in the 18-month Dutchess Climate Action Planning Institute, in which the Town is participating along with 8 other municipalities, each doing its own inventory. 

Next up is emissions forecasting:  what will our government operations emissions look like without any action (business as usual)? and what are the potential impacts of robust actions?  Based on the answers to these questions, we will proceed to develop a Government Operations Climate Action Plan, which will be presented to the public for comment in early 2024.  

Shortly, we will begin a similar process for Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions and develop a plan in which we can ALL participate.


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Green Business Bureau Business Case       

The Dutchess County Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI)

We are proud to be one of nine municipalities participating in this innovative 16-month program to lay out a path for our municipal operations to become more sustainable.  Members of the Climate Smart Task Force are partnering with our Town staff on the CAPI team.  Our government operations greenhouse gas inventory and inventory report are now complete, and we will now move into emissions forecasting and development of the Climate Action Plan.

Read about this exciting development in the Southern Dutchess News - select the 2/1/23 edition, where the article is on the front page.

 In addition, we will be participating in a separate project to capture the community greenhosue gas emissions and develop a corresponding action plan, later this year and into 2024. 

The Town of Poughkeepsie achieved initial Climate Smart Certification!

Read the full press release detailing this exciting milestone. 

We also achieved designation as a Clean Energy Community in New York State,

 making us eligible for a variety of grants to further our work!


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. Joan Freeman

    CSTF - Member

  1. Richard Levine

    CSTF - Member

  1. Stanley Merritt

    CSTF - Member

  1. Kristen E. Taylor, AICP

    Senior Planner

  1. Feza Oktay

    CSTF - Member

  1. Thomas Lynch

    CSTF - Member

  1. Ann Shershin

    Sixth Ward

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 over 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. (Appointments to the Task Force have since been updated.)  In September 2021 the Town became one of 82 Bronze-certified communities. Our Task Force is now pursuing actions towards the Silver, the next level of certification.

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.
  • Completed a Solar for All campaign to support access to community solar for income-eligible households.
  • Completed several actions to qualify for Clean Energy Communities, a separate NYS program, including our LED street lights, adoption of the Unified Solar Permit to streamline permitting for installation of solar and fulfillment of a Community Solar Campaign.

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

  • 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. 
  • Town residents(owners and renters) can take advantage of Community Solar opportuntiies without the need to install anything on their homes. Reduce your electric bill while supporting the transition to green energy!

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

What are some climate change 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?


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

  1. 2023
  2. 2022
  3. 2021
  4. 2020
  5. 2019

September 2023 Update

Our meeting was unfortunately cut short due to local storms and power failures - an apt demonstration of the increasing power of clilmate-fueled weather.  We took a look at the Government Operations Greenhouse Gas Inventory and accompanying Inventory Report, and discussed what will be presented at Committee of the Whole on 9/13/23.  Please join us for this huge milestone!

The Community Inventory cohort will kick off in late September and take four months.

August 2023 Update

We hosted the Community Coordinator from Joule Community Power to learn about the now-longer track record of local CCAs (Community Choice Aggregations).  CCA is one of the most powerful actions that communities can take in terms of climate impact as well as Climate Smart and Clean Energy Communities credit.  There are potential consumer savings and strong consumer protections. Currently, our community's energy source defaults to whatever Central Hudson is using.  We have, under the state CCA law, the opportunity to discuss alternatives.  The Task Force will be advocating for the Town Board to revisit exploring CCA. Such a discussion can occur without any obligation, and several months of community input and work would follow before any decision could be made.  

The Town Board just passed resolutions authorizing the town to proceed with contracts to install both the planned solar array on the Water Dept. (funded in part by our Clean Energy Community grants) and the EV charger installation at Town Hall (funded by a separate NYS grant). 

Our next Repair Cafe is coming on 9/9 at the Vassar Barn!  Watch for more information!

July 2023 Update

We reviewed the status of various projects that are in the pipeline towards Silver certification!

The Dutchess County Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI) is well in progress, with municipal GHG emission inventories wrapping up the inventory report starting to be written.  Next up:  development of the Climate Action Plan based on the inventory baselines.

Contracts for the solar array on our Water Department, using our grant funds earned through Clean Energy Communities, and for charger installation at the Town Hall, using a separate grant written by the Town, are both being reviewed at this time.

We continue to strategize regarding how to engage town businesses with the Green Business initiative.

Our next Repair Cafe is scheduled for September 9th at the Vassar Barn. 

June 2023

The Task Force did not meet in June.

May 2023

Task Force members enjoyed and appreciated the wonderful presentation provided by our Vassar College intern, Hannah, on the topic of leaf blower ordinances.  The information will be incredibly helpful should the group wish to move forward in this arena.  Our Highway Dept. does have some electric equipment, and we'd like to see more.  We disccused ideas for supporting local lawn businesses in making this transition.

Our first Repair Cafe was an astounding success!  We are planning for a periodic Cafe and will probably try an alternative location next time.  Watch this space for updates.

The several municipalities involved in the Dutchess Climate Action Planning Institute (CAPI) are well into the data collection and entry phase of this 16-month project to inventory all town operation emissions. 

We are still awaiting next steps regarding installation of a solar array on our Water Dept. using grant money earned from the Clean Energy Communities program by this group, as well as installation of EV chargers at Town Hall using a separate NYS grant secured by the Town.

April 2023

Due to holiday and other conflicts, the Task Force will not meet in April.  Next meeting:  5/4/23. 

March 2023 Update

Climate Action Planning Institute is under way! Data collection has begun for a range of municipal GHG emission sources. 

The Town is proceeding through the procurement process for the intended solar array at our Water Dept., funded in part by our Clean Energy Communities grants. 

Our Green Business initiative will be launched in April!  Town businesses will have access to the Green Business Bureau's extensive assessment/action/certification platform at a significant discount.  Watch for details!

We are so excited to be planning the Town's first-ever Repair Cafe with the support of Sustainable Hudson Valley. The event is schedule for 4/15 at the Senior Center.  Watch for additional publicity. 

Finally, we have a Vassar College intern from a course called “Big Problems, Local Solutions." This is an “intensive” on local policy in which each student is partnered with a municipal group or elected official to gain experience with policy work. Our student, Hannah, is researching leaf blower ordinances in NYS and will produce a comprehensive paper laying out the elements of successful seasonal or complete bans in other towns. This is background research only at this time, to provide a foundation should the CSTF choose to discuss such an initiative at some point. 

February 2023 Update

This month the Task Force was pleased to welcome the Executive Director and Program Coordinator of Sustainable Hudson Valley (SHV) to discuss their initiatives and the potential for support and collaboration. SHV is putting the finishing touches on the new Regional Climate Action Roadmap and Toolkit, developed at this critical juncture to help communities meet the goals of the NYS Climate Law.

The past month saw the long-awaiting launch of CAPI Dutchess (read more in earlier posts).  The Town of Poughkeepsie CAPI team, which includes both staff and Task Force representatives, is engaging in the early stages of the planned municipal operations greenhouse gas inventory which will provide the baseline from which to develop an action plan.  

January 2023 Update

We are thrilled that CAPI Dutchess - the Climate Action Planning Institute - will launch at last this month!  Over the course of this 16-18 month project, which has been delayed over two years, Town staff and Climate Smart volunteers will complete a municipal emissions inventory and corresponding action and adaptation plans.  

We are equally excited to anticipate the launch of a campaign with the Green Business Bureau for Town business owners. Businesses can undertake a process of assessment, action, and certification (similar to Climate Smart at the municipal level) to become more sustainable and save money at the same time. Speaking of businesses, a bulk refill store will soon open in the Arlington Business District.  

We recently submitted for, and received, approval of a fifth high-impact action for NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities program after Town staff completed required Energy Code Enforcement Training, designed to make sure that permits and approvals are in compliance with current NYS code.  Follow our NYSERDA "scorecard" here.   

Planning/designing continues for the proposed solar array on the buildings at the Town Water Dept. on Cedar Avenue.  The two grants earned from Clean Energy Communities will be earmarked towards this project.  

Looking ahead, the County will sponsor an Earth Day event on Saturday, April 29th (one week following Earth Day on 4/22, when there will be a variety of local community events).  We plan to participate, so watch this page and other publicity outlets for details.