Bencosme 8883

Asha Bencosme, the coordinator of the task force

The Village of Ardsley, already a state-designated Clean Energy Community, is now seeking certification as a Climate Smart Community. 

On Feb. 1, the Ardsley Board of Trustees passed a resolution establishing a Clean Energy Communities/Climate Smart Communities (CEC/CSC) Task Force. Asha Bencosme has been named coordinator, and will serve a three-year term. 

Eda Kapsis, Carol Sommerfield, and David Lew comprise the rest of the task force. Bencosme, a resident of Ardsley for five years, also co-chairs the village’s Conservation and Environment Advisory Committee (CEAC) with Kapsis. The task force members also belong to the CEAC. Village Trustee Steve Edelstein will be the village board’s liaison to both groups, and either Village Manager Meredith Robson or her designee will be a member of the task force.

Climate Smart Communities is a state program helping local municipalities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. By taking the CSC pledge, local governments commit to specific actions to reduce greenhouse gases, save taxpayers dollars, increase energy security and reliability, build resiliency to the impact of climate change, advance community goals for public health and safety, and support a green innovation economy.

To fulfill the pledge, communities select from a long checklist of approved actions to take, some mandatory, some designated as priority; each action is worth points. The municipality then submits an application for certification, detailing their actions. Depending on the types of actions and their point value, a municipality may be awarded bronze or silver status. 

Currently Dobbs Ferry has bronze status and Hastings has silver; Ardsley is shooting for bronze certification, which requires accumulating 120 points. To maintain its certification status, a municipality must continue carrying out recommended actions and reapply for certification. 

“Ardsley has already taken a number of actions, including converting all streetlights to LED lights, joining Community Choice Aggregation with a default into 100 percent renewable energy, and has installed solar panels on its fire station, among other things,” Bencosme told the Enterprise on Feb. 8. “We have a series of planned, certified actions that include climate education and engagement.” 

Through its 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the State has set the country’s most ambitious goals for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and converting to “green” energy: 70 percent renewable energy use by 2030, an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and 100 percent zero-emission electricity by 2040. Last November, CEAC launched Ardsley CAN by 2030!, a carbon reduction and sustainability initiative that aims to achieve an even more ambitious goal: halving Ardsley's carbon footprint by 2030.

“We believe our village is capable of beating the current targets, with education, inspiration, and upcoming market incentives,” Bencosme stated.

The task force first will collaborate with the Village to gather historical data on energy usage and the resulting emissions from the municipality and larger community, using state-approved software to benchmark government operations and other applications to determine community-level emissions. 

“An important part of setting goals is understanding the baseline,” Bencosme explained.

The State offers financial help for tackling the tasks involved in becoming a Climate Smart Community. The CEC program is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which makes funds available to local governments working to advance climate initiatives. The task force will support the Village in applying for grants. 

Ardsley is benefiting from the expertise of the its neighbors by communicating with members of the Conservation Commission in Hastings and the Sustainability Task Force in Dobbs Ferry. Bencosme cites Hastings Mayor Niki Armacost as being particularly generous with her time in discussing prioritizing climate initiatives.

Bencosme summarized Ardsley’s motivation for seeking certification as a Climate Smart Community, saying, “It is our hope that as a small village we can do our part to bring emissions down to net zero to support climate stabilization before we reach a point of no return.”

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