Municipal governments provide a wide variety of important public services, but in doing so, consume valuable resources. Municipal government operations require the use of energy, equipment, and supplies on a daily basis. This use of resources comes at a cost to both the taxpayers and the environment, as local government operations generate significant Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
GREENER BY DESIGN is an initiative through which the County has sought ways to substantially reduce the environmental footprint and increase the sustainability of county government operations. Greener By Design projects:
- Demonstrate measures which are replicable by other municipalities, businesses and the public;
- Support infrastructure for further deployment of sustainable technologies across the community;
- Create valuable educational opportunities which cultivate community-wide sustainable practices and awareness; and,
- Demonstrate fiscally responsible government practices by implementing measures which result in taxpayer and operational savings.
Carbon Neutral Operations
Ulster County’s Carbon Footprint Reduction Program was developed by the Ulster County Department of the Environment in order to reduce the environmental footprint associated with municipal government operations. The implementation of this program has successfully reduced energy usage and cost, improved operational efficiency and helped to mitigate climate change by offsetting carbon emissions where emissions are not presently avoidable. Ulster County is the first and only county in the State of New York to achieve carbon neutrality for municipal government operations. The County's Carbon Footprint Reduction Program was awarded the 2015 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for County Resiliency and Sustainability.
Figure 2: The Ulster County Carbon Footprint Reduction Program
GREENER BY DESIGN Projects Include:
Renewable Energy- As directed by Executive Order, Ulster County purchases 100% green power through a combination of renewable energy certificates, community distributed generation contracts and power purchase agreements. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named Ulster County as one of the leaders in green power use and environmental sustainability, most recently ranking the County as the 26th largest green power user on their 'Top 30 Local Government’ list, which represents the 30 largest green power users among local governments in the Nation. In addition, the County was recognized as a 2015 Green Power Purchasing leader by US EPA. Ulster County also received the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2015 Achievement Award for the “County Footprint Reduction Program” which was designed to reduce Ulster County’s carbon footprint, achieve carbon neutrality in a fiscally responsible way, and serve as a model and guide for other local governments to follow in the pursuit of carbon neutrality as well as taxpayer and operational cost savings.
Green Fleet Policy- The County has developed a A Sustainable Green Fleet Policy which stresses right sizing of the fleet as well as sustainable alternative fuels.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations- Ulster County currently hosts a network of fifteen (15) charging stations throughout the County. The County will install four (4) additional stations in 2019. The stations are powered by 100% renewable energy and are available to Ulster County fleet vehicles in addition to employees, residents and the general public (free of charge for non-commercial use, courtesy of the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce).
Biodiesel Use by Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) Buses - All public transit buses have been converted to a B5 biodiesel blend, which reduced Greenhouse Gas emissions (CO2E) by over 36 metric tons in 2018.
Interior and Exterior LED Lighting Upgrades - LED retrofits at County facilities have improved facility operations and dramatically reduced the County’s electricity cost and energy load. In addition to previous LED lighting upgrades, Central Hudson recently awarded Ulster County over $500,000 in energy efficiency interior LED upgrades for lighting systems in County buildings which will reduce power usage and save taxpayer money.
Food Service Waste Reduction Act - The County Executive signed a local law known as the "Food Service Waste Reduction Act" which prohibits all food service providers from using polystyrene foam, promoting the use of materials that are better and safer for the environment.
Compost- Ulster County was awarded a $261,000 grant from the NYS Regional Economic Development Council (2016) to expand and improve the operation and commercial viability of the composting facility at the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCCRA) in Kingston, NY. This funding will provide compost bins for commercial customers, identify and map food service operations and institutional generators within the UCRRA service, purchase and install a bagging machine to increase the marketability of finished compost, and establish a pilot organics recovery program at the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center.
Bottle Filling Stations- Bottled water was replaced with energy efficient water fountains.
Some of the Environmental Awards and Recognition Received by Ulster County Include:
- 2015 Recipient of a U.S. EPA Green Power Leadership Award & recognized as part of the the EPA 2016 Green Power Leadership Club (GPLC);
- U.S. EPA continues to rank Ulster County as a leader in Green Power Use (most currently ranked 26th nationally among local governments);
- 2015 National Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties for County Resiliency and Sustainability for the “Carbon Footprint Reduction program;”
- Ulster County was the First Municipality in NY to Become a NYSERDA Clean Energy Community;
- Awarded the Silver-Level Certification by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's Climate Smart Communities program;
- The Hudson Valley Trail Network, which Ulster County hosts sections of, was the most recent inductee into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame;
- Recognized in October 2016 by the “White House” for its commitment to reducing Green House Gas Emissions with the deployment of alternate fuel vehicles as well as expanding the County’s charging station network;
- Ulster County was prominently featured in National Geographic magazine’s December 2016 issue. The issue's pull-out, full color map of Ulster County entitled “Dreaming Green” highlights some of the County’s environmental achievements; and
- Ulster County was awarded $261,000 from the NYS Regional Economic Development Council (2016) to expand and improve the operation and commercial viability of the composting facility at the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCCRA) in Kingston, NY.