100 Ideas for New Paltz

1. form a public power utility

You don’t need to have a power plant to create a public power utility. According to the American Public Power Association’s Q&A For Communities Considering the Public Power Option, “Many public power utilities purchase wholesale electricity at prices that are beneficial to their customers without owning power plants.”

New York State requires that the New York State Power Authority charge local power authorities wholesale rates for the electricity they use.  The Town would negotiate a wholesale bulk purchase of electricity from either the NYPA or from Central Hudson.  Running a non-profit, locally-controlled power authority will save New Paltz ratepayers a significant amount of money – the national average being 30-40% savings.


2. buy the streetlights, run ’em on solar energy

Right now, the Village pays approximately $60,000 in rent each year to Central Hudson for streetlights.  The Village should buy those streetlights from Central Hudson, While the Village would be responsible for maintenance and repair, the savings in not paying rent should more than make up for it.

Once owned, it should be possible to upgrade or replace the existing lights with solar streetlights, and eventually to replace the big ugly lights we have now with lights more in keeping with the aesthetics of the village.

And it may even be possible to have a combo solar/wind streetlight that also doubles (or triples?) as a Wi-Fi relay:

11. make all new buildings green buildings

Create requirements in the housing codes of the Town and Village requiring all new construction to meet minimum LEED standards, with incentives of expedited review or density bonuses to those who exceed the minimum standards.

29. no more mcmansions

Set a cap on square footage for residential construction. There is no reason for McMansions; besides being aesthetically damaging, they undermine the rural character of New Paltz that so many cherish.

43. biodiesel

Create a small public biodiesel production facility to manufacture fuel for the Village, Town, School District and SUNY. Biodiesel is fully biodegradable, nontoxic, renewable and making our own would save hundreds of thousands of dollars otherwise spent on buying fuel from the New York State Office of General Services.

45. figure out new paltz’ collective carbon footprint

Posted in climate change, energy, environment by Jason West on June 11, 2009

Using software provided by ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability, map the carbon footprint of the Village, Town, School District and SUNY.

About the Clean Air and Climate Protection (CACP) software:

“CACP 2009 is a new product that replaces the CACP Software, originally released in 2003. CACP 2009 has been updated to support emissions inventorying and climate action planning based on the principles and methods of the Local Government Operations Protocol (LGOP). To learn more about how to use this software, please refer to our FAQs.

CACP 2009 is a one-stop emissions management tool that calculates and tracks emissions and reductions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) and criteria air pollutants (NOx, SOx, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, PM10, PM 2.5) associated with electricity, fuel use, and waste disposal. This tool can help you do the following:

  • Create emissions inventories for the community as a whole or for the government’s internal operations.
  • Quantify the effect of existing and proposed emissions reduction measures.
  • Predict future emissions levels.
  • Set reduction targets and track progress towards meeting those goals.”

More links about ICLEI:

46. lay out concrete step-by-step plans for carbon reduction

Posted in agriculture, climate change, energy, environment, green building, parks, smart growth by Jason West on June 11, 2009

Once a concrete number defining the Four Governments’ carbon footprint is established, design a program of tree plantings, green building codes, public transit, automobile usage reduction, etc. to not only reduce our collective carbon footprint, but to reverse it, making New Paltz into a carbon sink.

47. sign the town on to the united nations urban environmental accords

In 2005, I was fortunate to help draft the United Nations Urban Environmental Accords.  At that year’s U.N. World Environment Day, 75 Mayors from around the globe met for the United Nations World Conference of Mayors. On behalf of the Village of New Paltz, I signed the original Accords, joining dozens of mayors from cities like London, Rome, Moscow, Kiev and Kampala, Uganda.

Here’s the text of the Accords:

and some related material:

48. get new paltz to meet the highest standards of the united nations urban environmental Accords

Create a program for the Village and a program for the Town for both meet the Five-Star rating of the UN Urban Environmental Accords

50. provide developers with trained green building pros

Posted in energy, environment, green building, planning and construction, stormwater by Jason West on June 11, 2009

Require all Town and Village Building Inspectors to be LEEDS-certified professionals, to be able to advise builders on how to improve the sustainability of their projects.