Municipal governments provide a wide variety of important services, but in so doing, must necessarily consume valuable resources. Municipal government operations require the use of energy, equipment, and supplies on a daily basis. The use of resources comes at costs to both the environment and to taxpayers, and local government operations contribute to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) production. GREENER BY DESIGN is an initiative of Ulster County Executive Mike Hein in which the County has sought ways to substantially reduce the environmental footprint and increase the sustainability of county government operations while seeking and designing projects that:
- 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.
Ulster County’s commitment to energy conservation, efficiency, renewable energy generation as well as purchasing renewable energy and offsetting over 100% of all direct and indirect carbon emissions has resulted in the first Carbon Neutral county government, and has received state, national and international recognition for its commitment to environmental stewardship.
GREENER BY DESIGN Projects Include:
Renewable Energy- Under Executive Order, Ulster County purchases over 100% of green electricity from sustainable sources through a combination of renewable energy certificates and utility green power products. In addition, the County is embarking on a utility-scale solar project at the SUNY Ulster Community College and at the former landfill site in the Town of Ulster with the potential to ultimately generate 20% of the County's electricity. 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 installed a network of nine charging stations throughout the County which is the greatest number of municipal electric vehicle charging sites in the State of New York, including NYC. The County will install six additional stations in 2017. The stations are powered by 100% renewable energy and are available to Ulster County fleet plug-in hybrids as well as 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 biodiesel, which reduced Greenhouse Gas emissions (CO2E) by over 50,600 kg in 2015.
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 Bronze-Level Certified Climate Smart Community by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (one of three municipalities, and the only county, in the state to reach this level which is the highest that has been achieved through the 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.