Climate Smart Task Force (CSTF)

Climate Smart Bronze Certification logo

Climate Smart logo color

We had a great time with our partners from the Conservation

Advisory Commission at the 2022 Arlington Street Fair!




The Town of Poughkeepsie has achieved initial Climate Smart Certification!

Read the full press release detailing this exciting milestone. 

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

 making us eligibile 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 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. 2022
  2. 2021
  3. 2020
  4. 2019

December 2022 Update

The Task Force is completing a very productive year!  At our December meeting we engaged in further discussion of a food waste composting pilor for our town - follow our updates!  This will be a collaborative effort with our CAC and others.  The planned solar array is tentatively - depending on Board approval - being expanded to all three available roofs at our Water Dept. on Cedar Avenue.  This plan will increase the return on investment significantly as well as cut even more greenhouse gas emissions. The Task Force is exploring the possibility of a Community Repair Cafe here in Town.  Watch for updates or contact us if you are interested in being involved.  

November 2022 Update

We're excited that discussion of food waste composting is moving forward...stay tuned!

We're continuing to plan the new solar array in collaboration with our Town Board.  This is a complicated process involving a state contract for our grants as well as vendor proposals.  

The Climate Action Planning Institute - CAPI Dutchess - will kick off shortly after a long wait due to the pandemic and other delays. Representatives of the Town will work in parallel with those from several other municipalities in Dutchess to complete a government greenhouse gas emissions inventory (fleet, buildings, etc.) and then use that information to develop a Climate Action Plan as well as a Climate Adaptation model.  

We were pleased to welcome Board Member Bill Carlos, Ward 2, to our meeting. He also serves as this year's Chairman of the Joint Water Board for the shared Town/City of Poughkeepsie water plant. We had an informative discussion about the CHPE - the Champlain Hudson Power Express - a controversial plan to bring power from Canada to NYC via a trench in the Hudson.. There are significant concerns regarding impact of trenching on the water supply, and Riverkeeper - which participates with the Town in the Hudson 7 water organization - has taken a position opposing this plan.  Task Force members will be learning more about this topic in the coming days.

October 2022 Update

We were delighted to host a guest from Mothers Out Front, a non-partisan organization dedicated to helping Dutchess County move forward on climate issues, for a discussion of residential composting and organic waste management. Currently the County is considering its draft Solid Waste Management Plan, and this group is encouraging our County legislators to include plans for a shared composting facility.  This would mean a significant reduction in incineration of trash, a large percentage of which is compostable and includes a great deal of food waste, resulting in a healthier environment.  Discussion has also started regarding the idea of a pilot residential composting program for our Town, similar to what has recently been set up in some of our neighboring municipalities.

Our Clean Energy Communities grants, which our Town Board supported towards installation of a solar array on Water Dept. buildings to provide energy for municipal use, were approved!  Stay tuned for updates on this fantastic project.

September 2022 Update

We have been exploring opportunities to add an Electric Vehicle to the Town fleet. While it is not clear if this is currently feasible (based on replacement needs, budget, and current technology) even with our grant/incentives, we will also bring a proposal to the Town Board/Committee of the Whole on 9/14 for installation of a small solar array with the Action Grant and related incentives, to offset Town electric costs. While it would be a very small contribution to the total bill, it would be 100% paid by these resources.  Public attendance at this meeting is welcome. We are discussing other actions that need to be continued or initiated after the grants process is resolved. 

Look for us at the Arlington Street Fair on 9/17/22, where we'll share a table with the CAC. We're excited to sponsor display of an electric Ford F150 Lightning from Friendly Ford. 

August 2022 Update

We continue to focus on proposals for our Clean Energy Communities grants.  For the smaller Designation Grant, we are developing a program for town business owners in conjunction with the Green Business Bureau, which would provide guidance to businesses in increasing their sustainability, in turn reducing our community's overall greenhouse gas emissions and providing a healthier local environment.  For the larger Action Grant, we are exploring multiple options for pre-approved projects such as an electric vehicle for the Town fleet, a solar array on municipal property, or an electric vehicle charger in a public location. Any of these projects would decrease emissions as well as save money over the long term. Any final proposals for the grants will need to be approved by the Town Board.

We are also excited to report that CAPI Dutchess - the Climate Action Planning Institute - will finally launch in September or October after extensive delays.  Over the course of this 16-18 month project we will, in parallal with several other municipalities, develop a government operations greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a resulting climate action (mitigation) plan, and also the basis for a climate adaptation plan.  The County will be the lead agency for this effort, which will be modeled on the same process brought to a successful conclusion in other counties. 

July 2022 Update

Our July meeting was focused on preparing to present our proposals for our two Clean Energy Communities grants to the Town Board Committee of the Whole on 7/13/22. 

June 2022 Update

We continue to flesh out proposals for use of our two Clean Energy Communities grants.  The Task Force is interested in (1) seeding a Green Business Challenge for Town business owners and (2) helping the Town to acquire its first Electric Vehicle for its fleet.  Members of the Task Force are working hard to gather the necessary information on both topics in preparation for discussion with the Town Board. 

Looking ahead, we'll be at the annual Arlington Street Fair on Saturday 9/17!  Look for our table which we will share with the CAC.  Stay tuned for more information.

Our partners on the Town Pollinator Pathway are launching a project to create at least one native planting area on municipal property in each of the Wards.  We'll be selecting locations (neighborhood parks, for example) and advertising planting days.  Join us!  

May 2022 Update

Our current focus is selecting appropriate projects for use of the two Clean Energy Communities grants that we have earned by completion of our Community Solar Campaign! We've earned a Designation Grant of $5,000 and an Action Grant of $15,000. Task Force members have great ideas about how to use these funds to further the Town's progress on climate goals.  We'll be discussing these ideas with the Supervisor and Board and proceeding with the grant applications.  Stay tuned for more news on this exciting development!  

The Task Force is engaged in the wider conversation that is occurring in the County regarding solid waste management issues and especially the need for a composting facility. 

We are proud that our Task Force member Tom Lynch, who has been attending meetings of the Hudson 7 (communities which draw water from the Hudson) has been invited to join an advisory group of water quality experts that will be working on the issue of the salt front coming further north as sea level rise increases. This is a crucial issue for our communities and one which will need to be solved collaboratively.  

April 2022 Update

We continued our discussion about how to move our Town towards a green fleet. We expect to be eligible for both a smaller grant, with flexible use, and a larger grant which can be used for several pre-approved projects (some of which the Town has already achieved). The members of the Task Force are very much in favor of using the smaller grant to support Green Business incentives in the Town, and the larger one to support acquisition of an electric vehicle for the fleet.  SInce our Board is proceeding with the separate grant for charging stations to be installed at Town Hall, this is a wonderful opportunity.

We are doing an overall review of our Climate Smart points status to facilitate planning for additional actions.  We welcome input from residents and also welcome your comments regarding issues that are being discussed in our wider community, such as electric rates.  

March 2022 Update

We are thrilled to announce that we have completed our SOLAR FOR ALL Community Campaign!  This is a High-Impact Action for NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities program as well as a Climate Smart Action.  Completion should qualify the Town for an action grant...stay tuned for more good news!

At our March meeting, we continued to work on Green Fleet issues.  We discussed a variety of waste management issues impacting the Town and County.  In particular, we focused on the concept of a Green Business Challenge. We are exploring ideas to bring such a program to our local business owners, giving them the opportunity to contribute to our well-being and to take leadership in the community. 

February 2022 Update

We welcomed new member, Feza Oktay, to our Task Force.  Feza is a business owner who will bring valuable perspective to our work.  We bade farewell to Katherine Espinosa and wish her well in her new endeavors.

We reviewed status of all actions in process and set responsibilities for moving forward.  Given that we have achieved initial Bronze certification, our upcoming work will benefit from a thoughtful visioning of next priorities towards Silver, which requires significant action. Priorities for the coming year will reflect the potential impact on our community, actions already in process, and feasibility.. By establishing clear goals, we can focus our volunteer time and effort more efficiently and work with the Board most effectively. Our general consensus was that these areas are: "green fleet" issues, waste management issues including recycling and organics, and development of a green business challenge.  We will also target completion of our Solar for All campaign (we are very close!) and work on developing content for a Climate Adaptation Plan.

January 2022 Update

The Task Force began the new year with a review of all in-process and planned actions to take the Town towards the next level (Silver) certification. These include:

  • Reviewing the final, adopted Comprehensive Plan to determine details of its submission for Climate Smart credit
  • Developing a Fleet Inventory maintenance policy as a tool for transitioning the town fleet to electric vehicles
  • Supporting Town personnel to participate in updated NYSERDA Energy Code Enforcement Training, which will help us reach our Clean Energy Community action goal and position us for additional grants
  • Monitoring adoption of the Natural Resources Inventory and Open Space Plan and submitting the updated information for Climate Smart credit
  • Monitoring grant application for installation of EV chargers on municipal property
  • Outreach to our business community regarding charging station opportunites and other potential actions for a Green Business Challenge
  • Clarifying issues related to recycling in our municipal offices
  • Completing our Solar for All campaign and submitting it for both Climate Smart and Clean Energy Community credit

Who are our partners in local climate action?