Environmental Action Plan

Today there is a strong, credible consensus among scientists that climate change is altering our global environment, with increasingly dangerous consequences for our health and security – and the well-being of virtually all life on our planet. As a result, we see a growing and widespread acceptance among private- and public-sector leaders of the need for action that will create an environmentally “sustainable” future, particularly through reduced reliance on carbon-based energy.

In 2012, the Irvington Board of Trustees endorsed a multi-community “Climate Smart Pledge” as an affirmation that our Village must address climate change.  The plan outlined below summarizes our projected three-year approach to the implementation of that Pledge.

Of course, the Village’s financial and other means necessary to develop and execute this plan are very limited. However, we also have to recognize that over time, cost-savings from energy efficiency, flood controls and other measures are likely to be significant – and the positive effects on the quality of life in our community invaluable. But the lack of meaningful action on environmental challenges could easily exact a heavy toll on the Village’s financial health and character. The issues at stake are so important that we cannot fail to tackle them, making every reasonable effort to support the initiatives laid out in this document.

The Multiple Tracks of Action

1. Sustainability Coordinator
  • Create a part-time staff position for a Sustainability Coordinator who would be responsible for policy/process reviews, information-gathering, best-practices recommendations, and helping with public education/outreach.
2. Village buildings
  • Continually update the inventory of Village-government energy usage and emissions, providing an annual measurement against a “baseline” profile.
  • Obtain energy assessments from State agencies, (e.g., NYPA).
  • Determine baseline energy usage profile (utilizing energy consultant).
  • Determine which specific technologies and actions are feasible and most cost-effective for reduced usage of water, electricity and fossil fuels, and to lower overall emissions and solid waste.
  • Calculate “break-even” timeframes for facilities upgrades or process adjustments and generate capital/operational budget projections.
  • Prioritize facilities for changes, with specific target reductions (for each category power, water, waste).  (e.g., pledge 15% lower electricity consumption by the end of 2016).
3. Village-government operations
  • Develop a 2-year plan for sustained implementation of energy- and/or emissions-reducing measures for vehicles, street lights, trash, organic waste and recycling collection services and other relevant aspects of operations.
  • Include specific measures, targets and timetable. Such measures should identify whether the Village government has direct control over the measure or whether some participation/cooperation is required by residents/property owners.
  • Identify public works projects that may promote a more walkable community.
  • Develop specific plans for fuel-efficient and/or zero-emissions vehicles, as appropriate. Longer-term alternatives for heavy equipment (e.g., DPW garbage trucks) should also be studied and reported upon so as to allow adjustments to capital budget planning.
  • Examine the potential use of a fuel-efficient vehicle to pick-up and discharge passengers, especially during commuter rush periods.
4. Impact of climate change on Village
  • Ensure emergency operating capabilities of key village facilities, services and public shelters.
  • Periodically review and update emergency preparedness procedures in response to an expected increase in the frequency and severity of severe storms.
  • Develop alternatives to email and the Village website for communication during wide-spread power outages or catastrophic situations.
  • Assess climate-change exposures – e.g., storm management, waterfront flooding -  with professional assistance, based on current scientific consensus.
  • Develop and continually review a plan of action with priorities addressing the greatest exposures first. Inter-municipal response will need to be explored.
5. Storm-water management
  • Sustain the flood-control program already under way, but if at all practicable, accelerate it.
    • Expand efforts to obtain external funding.
    • Increase public outreach efforts for storm-water management.
  • Start program to assist private-property owners with clearing debris out of stream channels and flood plains.
  • Develop a program of street-tree monitoring, maintenance and replanting.
  • Implement appropriate Streetscape Master Plan recommendations (e.g., on infiltration, planting strips, species selection)
6. Village Building Code
  • Determine specifically how to a) modify the Code to promote “green” building, local/renewable energy creation, and low-impact land-use practices; and b) ensure limited barriers to “green” building projects.
    • Consider code changes regarding demolition, to encourage adaptive reuse.
  • Review the Comprehensive Plan for the same purpose, and to ensure compatibility with changes in the Code.
7. Community and staff education
  • With guidance from volunteer experts and village committees (such as GPTF & ECB), develop a range of public initiatives relating to water use, stormwater management, waste reduction, recycling, energy savings, walkable communities, safe streets, benefits of urban forest etc.
  • Continue outreach and training for the “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” program. Develop specific waste reduction / cost savings targets for LELE.
  • Limited funding should be available on a project basis to “prime the pump” for, and/or encourage, specific initiatives as they arise – e.g., the promotion of composting, stormwater reduction, and environmental education.
  • Provide training and education to Village staff on sustainability requirements and policies, as well as encourage their suggestions for possible process and policy changes to enhance Village sustainability.
8. Financing
  • Generate financing of the initiatives outlined above via a combination of taxes, bonds and grants, with a willingness to look at much of the work as an investment that will have both monetary and non-monetary paybacks. Cost savings could be very large vis-à-vis the consequences of non-action, and we should exert every effort to quantify paybacks (including long-term cost-avoidance) wherever we reasonably can.
    • As appropriate, give highest priority to initiatives with greatest potential impact.
      • Determine whether energy retrofits and conservation in Village buildings, as well as incentives for such changes in private business and homes, would be a practicable priority.