Climate Smart Task Force

  Susan Karnes Hecht, Chair
  Katherine Espinosa
  Joan Freeman
  Richard Levine
  Stanley Merritt
  Beverly Santero
  Kristen Taylor, AICP, Town of Poughkeepsie Planner
  Ann Shershin, Town of Poughkeepsie Board Liaison
  Michelle Gluck, Environment and Energy Program Resource Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension
The task force meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 pm online via Zoom. Zoom meeting details provided on the town calendar. Please see posted agenda for more.
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Climate Smart Communities (CSC) is a New York State program that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

CSC 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 (DEC); Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Department of Public Service; Department of State; Department of Transportation; and Department of Health. DEC 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 CSC 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.

Learn more about CSC at


The Town of Poughkeepsie is one of 313 registered communities; together these communities represent more than 8 million residents. The Town Board pledged to become a CSC on 4-18-18 and passed a second resolution creating a dedicated Climate Smart Task Force on 7-10-19.  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

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.

December 2020 Update

Despite unavoidable delays due to the pandemic, the Task Force is full steam ahead and still anticipates submission for initial “bronze” Climate Smart certification in January. Our expectation is that our application would be reviewed and feedback provided about any actions requiring more work or documentation, with the next deadline in April. To this end, we are focused on collecting needed documentation and uploading it into the NYS CSC portal. In the process we have discovered a few unexpected points for which we can apply, and are also continuing to envision next steps that we can pursue towards “silver”, taking our Town even further towards sustainability.

November 2020 Update

Our hard-working Task Force personnel conducted a complete review of our draft application in the NYS Climate Smart Communities portal to pinpoint where work and documentation stand for each completed or planned action.

The start date for our Solar for All campaign is on hold while we await NYSERDA’s update to this action, enabling us to proceed in a way that may make the town eligible for additional grants to support sustainability.

In collaboration with the CAC, work has begun on our Pollinator Pathway, which will be part of the Northeast pathway (visit We have representation from our town committees, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Vassar Environmental Cooperative/Ecological Preserve, Peach Hill Park, Waterman Bird Club, the colleges and school districts that lie within the town, and others. In the near future, we will begin public outreach to enlist individual residential properties to join the Pathway.

The amazing Visual Arts students at DCC will be designing new logos for both Climate Smart and our CAC during the spring semester. We look forward to this collaboration and to placing the new design on our page and social media.

Update Archive 2020 - See all past updates for the year.

Other links of interest

Meetings of the Dutchess County Climate Smart Task Force are open to the public.  Learn more at