New York’s Climate Smart Communities Program

Created: 4/22/2013 - Updated: 3/02/2020


The New York Climate Smart Communities program is a partnership between local communities and six state agencies designed to address climate change. Communities voluntarily sign the Climate Smart Communities Pledge and receive technical support and guidance from state agencies. As of April 2013, one hundred and fifteen communities are part of the program; most are located along the Atlantic and Great Lakes coasts.

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New York will experience increased average temperatures, flooding, extreme weather events, runoff, water supply and quality issues, droughts, shifting habitats and species’ ranges, and sea level rise as a result of climatic changes (Frumhoff et al. 2007). The New York Climate Smart Communities Program is supported by five state agencies – the Departments of Environmental Conservation, State, and Transportation, and the Energy Research and Development Authority and Public Service Commission. It combines mitigation and adaptation responses to limit or eliminate the effects of climate change on local communities (e.g., towns, villages, cities, counties). Benefits of local community involvement include cost savings for local taxpayers through reduced energy costs and increased energy efficiency, increased opportunities for green energy job growth, and improving existing and designing new infrastructure to withstand the effects of climate change (Department of Environmental Conservation 2009).


The Climate Smart Communities program provides communities with technical support and guidance; as part of the program, each community must adopt a model pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change. The Climate Smart Communities Pledge may be adopted by any town, village, city, or county in New York State; it includes a series of steps that communities may also take to fully participate in the program. These steps include:

  • Creating a climate change coordinator position or task force to organize the community’s efforts
  • Conducting a greenhouse gas inventory
  • Developing goals and a climate action plan
  • Educating local businesses, organizations, and citizens on efforts that can be taken
  • Contributing lessons learned and stories to the Climate Smart Communities Program.

The partnership is developing a certification program to motivate communities to take action on the aforementioned steps; currently, all communities that take the pledge are designated as Climate Smart Communities, but only those that have implemented specific actions will be considered Certified Climate Smart Communities. 

The partnership is run by six coordinators, four of which are contractors that are providing services to communities in four pilot regions of the state. Of the other two coordinators, one is developing an interactive land use, transportation planning, and building code toolkit for use by New York municipalities, and the other is responsible for coordinating regional and local greenhouse gas inventory activities and providing services to the communities located outside the four pilot regions. More information can be found at

Outcomes and Conclusions

One hundred and fifteen communities have joined the program as of April 2013. The Department of Environmental Conservation recently released the Climate Smart Communities Guide to Local Action, which provides step-by-step guidance and case studies to assist communities; for example, the guide provides information on how to conduct emissions inventories, develop climate action plans, and reduce energy needs. In addition, the program runs the Climate Smart Communities Webinar Series, which includes topics ranging from green infrastructure to energy efficiency.


Information gathered from interview with project contact, publications, and other resources


Gregg, R. M. (2012). New York’s Climate Smart Communities Program [Case study on a project of New York Department of Environmental Conservation]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: (Last updated August 2013)

Project Contact(s)

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is a public benefit corporation created in 1975 under Article 8, Title 9 of the State Public Authorities Law through the reconstitution of the New York State Atomic and Space Development Authority. NYSERDA’s earliest efforts focused solely on research and development with the goal of reducing the State’s petroleum consumption. Today, NYSERDA’s aim is to help New York meet its energy goals: reducing energy consumption, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, and protecting the environment.

The Department of State, one of the oldest and most diverse agencies in state government, works to make New York a more welcoming, equitable, and prosperous place for all who call it home. By the broad nature of its work, the agency touches the lives of nearly every person living and working in the Empire State.

To attain its mission the responsibilities, functions and duties of the Department of Transportation include:  

The Department of Health (DOH) is the regulatory agency that governs public health in the state of New York.

We protect, improve and promote the health, productivity and well being of all New Yorkers. New Yorkers will be the healthiest people in the world - living in communities that promote health, protected from health threats, and having access to quality, evidence-based, cost-effective health services. Values: Dedication to the public good, Innovation, Excellence, Integrity, Teamwork, Efficiency.

The primary mission of the New York State Department of Public Service is to ensure affordable, safe, secure, and reliable access to electric, gas, steam, telecommunications, and water services for New York State’s residential and business consumers, while protecting the natural environment. The Department also seeks to stimulate effective competitive markets that benefit New York consumers through strategic investments, as well as product and service innovations.


Scale of Project
Community / Local
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Air temperature
Habitat extent
Range shifts
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Water supply
Climate Type
1-3 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Create/enhance resources and tools
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Community Planning (developing climate-smart communities)
Governance and Policy
Develop / implement adaptation plans
Effort Stage
In progress