By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — Clifton Park has moved forward one more step in its effort to secure funding for town-wide environmentally friendly initiatives.
Recently, as part of the town’s push to secure a New York State Energy Research and Development Grant, the town board passed a resolution that would establish an energy benchmarking policy for municipal buildings. Clifton Park — specifically, the town’s Government Re-Thinking Energy and Environment Now (GREEN) Committee, which focuses on bringing energy efficient practices into Clifton Park, has been working towards securing from $50,000 to $100,000 from the state for green initiatives.
In 2016, NYSERDA launched the Clean Energy Communities program, a grant program that gives municipalities a certain amount of funding if they take specific actions to reduce energy use and utilize renewable energy technology.
There are 10 actions that towns can implement, and in order to be eligible for the funding, they have to complete at least four of them. The benchmarking resolution would be one of the four actions Clifton Park needs to take.
For the benchmarking action, the GREEN committee will be responsible for gathering monthly energy usage data from municipal buildings. The committee will have access to tracking technology provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to collect the data, and the energy reports will be made public via the internet on an annual basis.
In addition to the benchmarking policy, Clifton Park adopted a unified solar permit process in 2014 to make residential solar installations easier, another action item suggested by NYSERDA.
Two other actions the town will be pursuing in the future will be Energy Code enforcement training, and increasing the amount of solar rooftops in town via a solarize campaign.
The code enforcement training allows code enforcement officers, building inspectors, and other municipal staff to get hands-on experience in learning about the state’s new energy code. According to town councilwoman Amy Standaert, chair of the GREEN Committee, the town’s code enforcement officers will be participating in the training.
“Our code enforcement officers are already leaders in their field,” Standaert said. “This training will be another great addition to their expertise to help new residents and businesses achieve more energy efficient standards. While there is no specific requirement as to the number of folks that must participate, we will be offering this training to several employees from our Building & Development Department.”
Clifton Park will also embark on a solarize campaign that involves education and outreach to teach residents about the benefits of utilizing solar systems in their homes.
Standaert said that the GREEN committee has been checking in with various town departments to research which green initiatives would best fit with the town.
“The GREEN Committee has already begun discussing needs with some department-heads about possible cleaner, greener initiatives for consideration. The Town Board is always interested in innovative ways to save taxpayer money. With the GREEN Committee’s input, I’m hopeful that, if we are awarded this grant opportunity, we will put the funds towards something that saves money and benefits the environment,” she said.