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Climate Action and Sustainability

Erie County has made a commitment to address climate change and help create a more sustainable region. Those efforts can be seen in the Climate Action & Sustainability Plan (CASP) for internal operations, which was created by the Erie County Green Team and adopted by the Erie County Legislature in January 2019. The County has also been working with community stakeholders to create a Community Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Erie County issues annual updates on this work and has been recognized at both the state and national level for our achievements.

Sustainability is a broad topic that encompasses a host of issues that the County has been working on for many years. This page will focus on program areas that directly relate to climate change mitigation and resilience. Erie County’s longstanding work on watershed management, household hazardous waste, solid waste and recycling, habitat restoration, and stormwater are all sustainability issues that can be found the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning Environmental Services page.

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Climate Action & Sustainability Plan for Internal Operations and Green Team


The Climate Action & Sustainability Plan (CASP) outlines and prioritizes ways the County can further reduce GHG emissions from its internal operations through action items specific to each chapter. Overall GHG emission reduction goals were set for a short-, mid-, and long-term timeframes. The following reduction goals are set against a 2005 baseline and were based on initiatives already begun within County operations, and from the measures listed in the CASP:

  • 32% by 2020; ACHIEVED
  • 50% by 2025; and
  • 80% by 2040.

Final Climate Action & Sustainability Plan for Internal Operations

Climate Action & Sustainability Plan - 2019 Update

Climate Action & Sustainability Plan - 2020 Update

Erie County 2021 Climate Action Update

Erie County 2022 Climate Action Update

Erie County 2023 Climate Action Update


Erie County Green Team

Erie County established a Green Team in 2016 to pursue sustainability initiatives in its internal operations. As called for in “Initiatives for a Smart Economy”, the Green Team is focusing on energy reduction and resource conservation projects that will decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, prevent pollution, reduce waste, and save money throughout the County’s daily operations.

The Erie County Green Team is made up of representatives of every County department, including those led by other elected officials such as the Sheriff and the Comptroller. The Green Team now meets quarterly to report on progress associated with implementing the initiatives listed in the CASP. Additionally, there are three standing committees that meet regularly: the Core Green Team, which serves as the Green Team’s steering committee, the Energy Committee, and the Transportation Committee.

Climate Action Fund

This Fund, first established in the 2020 budget, reinvests half of cost savings achieved through energy conservation and waste reduction projects into additional sustainability initiatives. The County’s large energy performance contracts are not included in the savings basis. The fund is overseen by the Core Green Team.

The Fund is utilized to implement action items identified in the Climate Action and Sustainability Plan, as well as other projects identified by the Green Team. Whenever possible the fund is used to leverage additional funding through grants and rebates. In 2022, the Climate Action Fund supported the purchase of electric vehicles and battery powered landscaping equipment, energy conservation projects, electric bicycles for Sheriff’s personnel, EV chargers for County buildings, the Sprague Brook Park Casino ground source heat pump project, a solid waste study, and editing and graphics support for of the CCAP.

Building Energy Use Reporting

Many initiatives within the Climate Action and Sustainability Plan (CASP) conserve energy from Erie County government buildings. Erie County reports building energy use, building greenhouse gas emissions, and other building energy metrics annually to allow the community to better understand our progress.


In recent years, Erie County has been recognized for its climate work on a regional, state and national level.

  • American Planning Association New York Upstate Chapter - Best Practice Award – Climate Action & Sustainability Plan for internal operations – 2019
  • NYSDEC Climate Smart Community - Bronze - 2019
  • WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable – Silver – 2019
  • WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable – Board of Director's Choice Award - 2019
  • WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable – Silver – 2020
  • NYSDEC Climate Smart Community - Silver - 2021
  • WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable – Gold – 2021
  • NYSERDA Clean Energy Community highest tier achievement grant – 2022
  • National Association of Counties – Achievement Award - Climate Action & Sustainability Plan for internal operations – 2022


Climate Smart Communities

Climate Smart Communities Award

Climate Smart Communities is a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) program that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Certified communities are the foremost leaders in the state, having gone beyond pledging to take climate action to completing and documenting a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level.

In 2021 Erie County was designated a Silver Certified Climate Smart Community by NYSDEC, which is currently the highest level of the program. Visit our Climate Smart Communities report, which provides details of all of County’s completed initiatives.

Clean Energy Communities

As of June 2023, Erie County along with New York City, City of New Rochelle, and City of White Plains are the only communities statewide to achieve 5,000 points in the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Clean Energy Communities Program among the largest 80 communities in the state. This achievement resulted in a $250K grant award for Erie County that is being used to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Community Climate Change Task Force

In 2019, the County’s Environmental Management Council convened a Community Climate Change Task Force that, as a committee of the EMC, provides expert guidance and community input to the County as it makes decisions about climate change mitigation and resilience. The Task Force has been very active, including forming ten work groups to guide the County on key topic areas and draft chapters for the Climate Action and Sustainability Plan.

The Task Force is chaired by Dr. Susan Clark from the University at Buffalo.

Community Climate Action Plan

Erie County has developed an equity-centered Community Climate Action Plan to identify actions the County can take to mitigate climate impacts and to help the community adapt to our changing climate. This initiative has been led by the Community Climate Change Task Force. The Plan was released to the community in December 2023 and was adopted by the Legislature in January 2024. To download the Plan, and to learn more about this planning process and how you can be involved,  visit

Climate Resilience

Climate change is increasingly impacting our community.  Projected local impacts include more severe flood and wind events, higher temperatures and heat waves, and biological impacts from invasive species, vector borne disease, and harmful algal blooms. Many of these impacts will disproportionately impact vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities. Erie County has an important role in planning and taking actions to make the community more resilient to climate change.

Climate Vulnerability Assessment

The Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) is an assessment of the threat of climate change to our community, the sensitivity of the community to those hazards, and the adaptive capacity of the County government to respond to those threats.  The CVA was conducted in partnership with a research team at the University at Buffalo led by Dr. Susan Clark and with input from our community stakeholders on the Community Climate Change Task Force.

The CVA supported the work of the Community Climate Change Task Force as it developed the Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP), and climate resilience strategies are woven throughout the CCAP.  The CVA is also a foundation for the County's extreme temperature planning project and other resilience initiatives.

This project is funded by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities program.

Erie County Community Forestry Partnership Project

Erie County was awarded a $5.2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Grant through funding from the Federal Inflation Reduction Act.

Click HERE to see more information about this project.

Erie County Low Income Program for Sustainable Energy (ECLIPSE)

Low and moderate income households spend a disproportionately large percentage of their income on energy bills, and are often unable to take advantage of the cost savings from renewable energy alternatives. The Erie County Low-Income Program for Sustainable Energy (ECLIPSE) will address these impacts for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) eligible families.

Funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and an in-kind County match, this three-year program will first analyze community needs and intervention strategies, and then implement the most effective solutions.

ECLIPSE will focus on:

  • bulk energy and green-energy purchasing;
  • access to community solar; and
  • related energy efficiency and resiliency improvements.

The program works through several County departments including: Environment and Planning, Social Services and Public Works.

The ECLIPSE grant provides for careful analysis and documentation of achievements, and includes the development of a public-facing dashboard that will provide transparency and allow for replication of Erie County’s successes by counties across the state.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

charging stations mapTransportation is the largest part of the County’s carbon footprint and supporting EVs is an important way to green our transportation system. Based on the fuels used in New York State’s energy grid, electric vehicles emit 85% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline powered vehicles. EVs can also reduce harmful pollution that impacts human health.

Erie County has installed fourteen (14) public charging stations at parks across the County, with several more in the works. These projects, which help support the transition to sustainable transportation, have been supported by federal and state grants. Click here for a map of the County’s EV charging stations.

Natural Resource Inventory

natural resource inventoryA Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) identifies and describes important naturally-occurring resources within a community, watershed or region. It provides the basis for land conservation planning, allows natural resource information to be included in local planning and zoning, and provides communities with a strong foundation for informed decision-making. Launch Erie County's Natural Resource Inventory Online Story Map


wnysbr logoWNY Sustainable Business Roundtable (SBR) connects and supports leaders and professionals from business and industry, academia, non-profit and government who are investing in sustainability and the triple bottom line. USEPA grants obtained by Erie County were critical to getting the WNYSBR off the ground. The County continues to provide significant support to the WNYSBR, including as a standing member of its board of directors.

Clean Energy Internships

Erie County is hiring a paid Climate Policy Intern.  See the position description herePlease email for more information.