By Mary Marvin, Mayor of Bronxville
Feb. 22, 2023: Last September, thanks to the galvanizing energy of the Village’s Green Committee, led by Ellen Edwards, and Village government support led by Village Trustee, Helen Knapp, and Assistant Village Administrator, Stephen Shallo, Bronxville was awarded the first level of achievement (bronze) in the Climate Smart Communities Program. This is a New York State program that provides a framework for tackling climate change and sustainability in local municipalities.
A subsection of the Green Committee, the Bronxville Climate Smart Task Force, worked for almost 18 months to document action items and energy savings in the Village to achieve this designation.
Some of the steps the Village government took include:
-a greenhouse gas inventory of municipal operations
-a greenhouse gas inventory for the Village as a whole
-installation of electric vehicle charging stations
-LED traffic signals and street lighting
-use of ground source heat pumps to heat and cool Village Hall
-food scrap recycling program
-campaigns to reduce solid waste, including “Take Back Day” and recycling communications
-creation of the Green Committee website and social media efforts
Even as we celebrate these significant milestones, the Climate Smart Task Force work has truly just begun.
Our next endeavor is partnering this winter with Sustainable Westchester, a nonprofit consortium of local municipalities to help residents utilize and benefit from clean, renewable energy, through the Energy Smart Home Program. By tapping into this initiative, we receive access to information about clean energy technologies, certified contractors and even one on one assistance to make your home more energy efficient.
It is particularly timely since state and federal initiatives are offering substantial tax incentives, so it just makes sense for homeowners to take time now to learn what efficiencies they can achieve and what money they can save. The goal of an energy smart home is to put a stop to energy waste, fossil fuel usage, realize savings and increase the value of your home with heating and cooling upgrades.
With the help of our program, we can start you off with a home energy assessment. Sometimes this does not require a major overhaul of your home systems, but rather the addition of insulation and air sealing. Using the information from the Green Committee’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory for both residential and municipal operations, we now have a baseline for improvement. The Board of Trustees is completely behind this effort, passing a resolution at our February Board Meeting to formalize our commitment.
The baseline data gleaned from our municipal and residential energy assessment completed last year demonstrated that most of our emissions in the Village come from running our homes, (electricity and heating and cooling), and from transportation.
Most of us do not address and sometimes avoid even focusing on heating and cooling systems because they can often be quite complex and out of the normal realm of our personal expertise.
This is where the program can be your partner in starting the process by first and foremost learning the root causes of drafts and inconsistent room temperatures coupled with financial costs that seem ever escalating.
It is so much better to learn about your options before some of our very aged equipment dies and then we often have to buy on an emergency basis and take a less than ideal choice.
The program has demonstrated a significant success rate in other communities and some the proven energy and financial saving solutions include:
-Purchasing a heat pump hot water heater,
-Converting all or some of your home to a heating and cooling system run on electric powered heat pumps which currently are the cleanest and most efficient heating and cooling technology available
I can personally attest that when we made the decision at Village Hall to install a ground source or geothermal heat pump system which had an upfront cost that gave us pause but our payback came in less than five years, and we continue to have a very enviable low energy bill as well as much less negative emission.
This first step in our program is an energy audit conducted by certified and vetted professionals who can answer some of the questions that we all seem to have in the winter.
Why are some rooms cold and drafty?
Why do energy bills get higher and higher each winter?
Does the oil furnace or gas boiler need to be replaced soon?
What is its shelf life before it becomes an emergency purchase?
Is an upgrade needed in the air conditioning system for the summer months?
Should current conventional equipment be changed to equipment powered by renewable energy?
This program lasts until April so there is plenty of time for research and buying. To get started learning about Energy Smart Homes, visit the Green Committee website and Contact Us to get started. There are only upsides – comfort, safety, lower costs and reduction of your carbon footprint.
Our energy Smart Homes campaign is just one initiative on a continuum and over the next year, we will identify additional steps we all can take to lower the emissions to reach target goals and have public interaction to engage and hopefully to inspire the community.
The Bronxville Green Committee is a volunteer organization under Village government. We work with the Trustees and Village staff on programs that promote clean energy initiatives and sustainable ways of living. Our programs include The Bronxville Giving Garden, a community garden whose produce is donated to local groups; Take Back Day, when we collect items to be recycled; and Pollinator Pathways, which encourages adding native plants to our gardens. We believe everyone can make a difference by adopting simple, sustainable practices in daily life so we can work together to protect what we love -- our families, our homes and our town.