Research and Engagement for WNY Sustainability Plan
As part of a statewide effort to promote actions that can reduce New York State’s contribution to greenhouse gases, Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the Cleaner, Greener Communities program under the New York State Energy, Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in 2011. Recognizing that good planning can set the stage for informed decision-making, the first step in this process was to charge each of the ten economic development regions in New York State to develop plans for how they would enact programs and projects around areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, low-carbon transportation, and sustainable land use.
The Western New York region’s plan was driven by a consortium of governmental agencies from Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. Ecology and Environment, a multi-faceted environmental firm located in the region was selected as the consultant to perform the baseline greenhouse gas emission analysis and shepherd the planning process.
Given UBRI’s role in supporting the recently completed Plan for Prosperity, Western New York’s state-supported economic development plan, E&E reached out to UBRI and invited us to join their team. Leveraging our expertise and embedded knowledge about the region, UBRI was charged with taking on three critical elements for the project:
- designing the stakeholder and community engagement process
- cultivating and calculating indicators across six different thematic categories
- ensuring that greenhouse gas reduction strategies identified through the process were in line and mutually reinforcing to WNY’s economic development priorities.
Released in early 2013, the document serves as a planning resource for the WNY Regional Economic Development Council (REDC), the five WNY counties, and the hundreds of local communities covered in the plan. It identifies a wide range of priority projects and programs for energy conservation and efficiency, production of renewable energy, and innovations that promote economic development. It also sets goals for promoting more efficient land use, improved transportation, better management of solid waste and water resources, and protection and promotion of agriculture and forestry.
The Western New York Sustainability Plan is part of a broader commitment of UBRI to promote sustainable action in our greater region. It builds on and reinforces our work with the WNY Regional Economic Development Council and One Region Forward. Through our continued role as a support team for the REDC’s Smart Growth platform, UBRI helps to advance the plan into action.