The City of Albany government has taken a number of steps to reduce its contribution to climate change. The City is working with the Community Advisory Committee to identify targets and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the community as well.
While mitigating risks is an important reason for Albany to respond to climate change, doing so also has many co-benefits. Implementing actions that save energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions also cut costs, create jobs, and improve quality of life for residents. The actions Albany can take to reduce climate change will help us reach the goals in Albany’s comprehensive plan, Albany2030, to create a vibrant, livable, and sustainable city. The links below provide details on our current goals and completed projects.
Buildings and StreetlightsCurrent Goals
Natural ResourcesCompleted Projects
Unlike most other communities in the Capital District Region, the City of Albany owns and operates a landfill that is used by many communities in the region. Landfills typically are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions due to the methane generated from decomposing waste. Methane is twenty times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Most of it is captured and destroyed in the landfill’s comprehensive gas collection system, although, as is typical for landfills, some of it escapes and is responsible for net emissions. Reducing emissions at the landfill is particularly challenging because the landfill receives waste from several municipalities in the region and the City of Albany receives significant income from commercial haulers that dispose of their waste at the landfill.
Target: Increase the amount of waste diverted from the landfill from 42% to 65% by 2030.
Municipal Waste Reduction Program
The Municipal Waste Reduction Program focuses on increasing recycling, reuse, and waste reduction in municipal operations. The Department of General Services is coordinating with other City departments to make sure that recycling bins are present in the various offices and that employees are given proper instructions for recycling. Each City department will also appoint a Sustainability Ambassador responsible for monitoring and encouraging waste reduction and energy conservation among employees. In addition, the City is developing a municipal reuse program that will enable departments to donate unwanted, reusable furniture to other departments or charities instead of taking it to the landfill.
Increase Methane Capture at the Rapp Road Landfill
The City currently captures a significant amount of the methane emitted at the landfill- 80%. A portion of that is burned to produce energy used at the landfill (18,600 Megawatt hours in 2009), while the rest is flared and released into the atmosphere. While its current methane capture rate is above national averages and it will be difficult to do so, the City is investigating options to capture even more methane. Any increase in the capture rate will have a dramatic increase in the City’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Capital Region Landfill - Rapp Road Information Bulletin
The Department of General Services picks up yard waste from city residents and contractors and puts it through a lengthy composting process before it is given away to City residents, used throughout the city in gardens and grounds or sold to contractors as mulch or wood chips. In 2009 the compost facility produced 3,549 tons of finished products.
The City of Albany has adopted a Single Stream recycling program in August 2011 in an effort to boost recycling rates throughout the city. Bins are available free of charge to Albany residents through DGS. Albany’s recycling program accepts plastics #1-7, cardboard, paper, cans, and a wide range of other items. Albany also introduced recycling into all the schools located within the city. Schools that implement their recycling program have recycling picked up by the City. We are expanding and enforcing our recycling program for commercial entities and offer events for hazardous and electronic waste collection.
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Building and Streetlight Initiatives
Excluding the landfill, buildings and streetlights produce the greatest share of the city government’s greenhouse gas emissions and consume the majority of the City’s spending on energy. In 2009 the City spent $5.4 million or 73% of the government’s energy budget on buildings and streetlights, a large portion of which went to National Grid for the operation and maintenance of streetlights. The measures we are undertaking will not only reduce energy use and energy costs, but also help improve worker productivity and employee engagement in sustainability.
Target: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s buildings and facilities by 25% by 2030.
Target: Obtain 15% of energy used by the City from renewables by 2030.
Municipal Energy Conservation Strategy
The City of Albany is developing and implementing an Energy Conservation Policy to help employees conserve energy and reduce waste in city operations. The policy includes measures to turn off lights when not in use, reduce heating and cooling in buildings, enable power save mode for computers and electronics, and purchase energy efficient equipment. Each department will appoint sustainability ambassadors to help monitor and enforce the implementation of this program.
Perform Energy Efficiency Upgrades Retrofits in City Buildings
Retrofitting buildings and upgrading equipment have high initial costs but generate huge savings over the long term. Proposed retrofits in City Buildings include changing lights, upgrading boilers and HVAC systems, changing windows, tightening building envelopes and other actions to improve energy efficiency.
Initiative: Install Renewable Energy at the City’s Facilities
The City is actively pursuing options to generate electricity from renewable sources for City uses, including hydropower, solar, wind, and biogas. The City will apply for grants and develop a plan for implementing feasible options.
Switch City Streetlights and Traffic Signals to Energy Efficient LEDs
The City currently spends 57% of its overall energy budget on streetlights and traffic signals, the majority of which goes to National Grid for maintenance and operation of the streetlights. The City will investigate the cost structure of streetlights to help transition towards more energy efficient lighting. The City will help ensure that all lights are maintained and functioning properly and if necessary lobby the PSC to allow the City to change streetlights to energy efficient LEDs.
The City of Albany Department of General Services (DGS) has completed lighting upgrades in 23 City buildings. National Grid provided 70% of the cost of these upgrades. Upgrades include switching lights to CFLs and LEDS and installing motion sensors. We anticipate the savings to be around $55,000 a year.
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Transportation accounts for 21% of the community’s greenhouse emissions and impacts air quality and the quality of life for residents. The city owns and operates approximately 600 cars, vans, trucks, and heavy duty vehicles. In 2009, the municipal fleet emitted 6640 metric tons of CO2e, or the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from 1,302 passenger vehicles in a year. The City of Albany is working to reduce greenhouse gases from vehicles by committing to replace at least 10% of the municipal fleet with alternative vehicles by 2030 through the Green Fleet Program. Albany’s 2030 plan also contains many elements to improve multimodal transportation in the community such as developing a bicycle master plan, improving pedestrian facilities and public transit.
Target: Replace at least 10% of the City’s gasoline or diesel vehicles with alternative vehicles by 2030.
Green Fleet Program
The City’s Green Fleet Program will identify opportunities to replace 10% of the City’s gasoline or diesel vehicles with alternatively fueled vehicles by 2030. We will continue to add hybrid vehicles to the municipal fleet as well as investigate alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas and biodiesel. We are also investigating a car share program to reduce the number of vehicles owned and maximizing each vehicle’s usage.
Electric Vehicle Feasibility Study and Pilot
|Photos: Albany's Electric Vehicle Program announced by Mayor Jennings on April 21, 2011.
The City of Albany received a cost share research agreement from NYSERDA and NYDOT to conduct a feasibility study on installing electric vehicle charging stations in the city. Through this initiative, the City will assess current opportunities to incorporate electric vehicles into the municipal fleet and identify zoning or policy changes that need to be revised to better accommodate electric vehicle infrastructure. We will also work with third party auto dealerships in the region to install, at their cost, electric vehicle charging stations at strategic locations throughout the city.
Currently, City of Albany employees commute in single occupancy vehicles more than 80% of the time. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from employee commute, we are looking to implement initiatives that encourage City employees to use alternative modes of transportation such as carpooling, riding public transportation, walking, biking, and telecommuting.
In 2009, Department of General Services received an award to purchase 12 hybrid vehicles. DGS has already purchased 7 hybrid vehicles, including a hybrid waste hauler and a hybrid hydraulic vehicle. The City will incorporate more hybrids into the municipal fleet. In addition, DGS instituted a no idling policy for its drivers.
Read more about City of Albany's hybrid vehicles (Adobe PDF)
Delaware Avenue Reconstruction – Green Award
The City of Albany received a GreenLITES (Green Leadership In Transportation Environmental Sustainability) award from the New York State Department of Transportation for the reconstruction of Delaware Avenue (NYS Route 443) from the New York State Thruway Bridge to Madison Avenue. As part of the project, the city recycled and reused granite curbs, coordinated traffic signals, brought pedestrian facilities into full ADA compliance, and installed LED pedestrian streetlights.
More information about the Delaware Avenue Reconstruction project (Adobe PDF)
Bicycle Master Plan
The City of Albany, in partnership with the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), created a Bicycle Master Plan to identify a network of bicycle routes to improve cycling as a viable mode of transportation throughout the City. The network will support a safe and healthy transportation alternative and enhance the quality of life in the City.
Read the Albany Bicycle Master Plan (Adobe PDF)
Progress on Two Wheels (via www.metroland.net)
Solar Big Belly Trash Compactors
The City of Albany purchased and placed 93 solar powered trash compactors and 20 compacting recycling containers in streets throughout the city. The Big Bellies compact trash so that it does not need to be emptied as often which saves on vehicle fuel and labor hours, as well as helping to increase recycling in public spaces.
Albany: 93 BigBelly Solar Trash Compactors Installed!
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Natural Resource Initiatives
Pine Bush Habitat Restoration
The Albany Pine Bush Reserve is a unique ecological preserve that harbors several rare and endangered species. As part of the City of Albany’s plan to expand the adjacent Rapp Road Landfill, the City has engaged in preservation activities to enhance the remaining Pine Bush habitat. The City has funded start-up costs for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission and created a $1 million endowment. The City also contributed over $1.5 million dollars to the Pine Bush Preserve Commission through the imposition of a “tip fee surcharge” on all waste disposed at the landfill. Closures of previously filled sections of the landfill are being rehabilitated with native vegetation and restored to habitat.
More information about the Pine Bush Restoration project
The City of Albany has been working to reduce chemical use in municipal operations to protect the health and safety of employees, residents, and the environment. Measures include:
Reducing Pesticide Use - In 2009 the landfill stopped using rodenticides and started using non-chemical pest control items such as traps, sticky pads etc. to manage rodents and other pests. DGS also changed the pest control contract for city owned buildings to green pest control products or procedures.
Using Green Cleaners - Department of General Services uses approximately 50% green cleaning products at city facilities. The black top crew is now using an environmentally friendly cleaner that is citrus based in place of diesel fuel to clean black top residue off of their tools and the paver. The graffiti crew uses green products to remove graffiti throughout the city. We are currently in the process of trying to find even more green products to increase our options when removing graffiti.
Environmental Snow Removal - The City now applies road salt with magnesium chloride, a less corrosive product, for snow removal instead of calcium chloride.
Environmental Building Products - Central Maintenance is using environmentally friendly supplies and materials such as adhesives, composite wood, stains and paints whenever available for projects in city buildings.
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