First Environment was selected to facilitate efforts of the Westchester County Global Warming Task Force and document the Climate and Sustainability Action Plan (Action Plan) for the County. The mission of the Task Force was to identify practical steps the Community of Westchester could implement to reduce global warming and foster sustainability, and to present this information in an Action Plan appropriate for implementation by all sectors of the community. Using the ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection Campaign Five Milestones as a guide, the County Executive requested the Task Force specifically update the Community of Westchester’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory, recommend an emissions reduction goal, develop an Action Plan with actions identified in all sectors to achieve the goal, and address actions to ensure the long-term sustainability of Westchester County.
The Task Force included more than 40 representatives from government (county and municipalities), business, education, communities of faith, and environmental and other non-governmental organizations. These experts included representatives from county departments, county legislators, town supervisors and other municipal functions; representatives from county business associations, international corporations with offices in the county, and energy providers; teachers and professors, college presidents, and representatives from local and national environmental groups.
In developing the Action Plan, the Task Force—with technical and organizational support from First Environment—was broken into subcommittees that evaluated five technical subject areas: energy and green building, green purchasing and recycling, transportation, land use, and water resources to define climate change and sustainability strategies and actions for these subject areas. It was then reformed into subcommittees to review the actions in each technical subject area with regard to the role of each of the sectors which included the county government, municipalities, business, education, households, and county government. The actions included the identification of federal and state actions that would be required to support the proposed actions. In addition to the Task Force members, the individual technical areas and sector planning processes were opened to other experts and interested parties in the community, resulting in the eventual participation of over 140 individuals in various roles.
Westchester recognized that the county needed to reduce transportation requirements; shift from single-occupant vehicles to reliance on mass transit and ride sharing/carpooling, increase the availability of alternative modes of transportation, such as biking and walking; use hybrid vehicles or non-fossil fuels in all motor vehicles including mass transit; and increase fuel consumption. Recommended actions include such things as replacing county vehicles with hybrids, flex- fueled vehicles, alternative fueled vehicles and more fuel-efficient conventionally fueled vehicles.
The Action Plan set in motion by the County Executive incorporates both direct actions that will result in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and capacity building actions that will support the achievement of the direct actions. The direct actions include actions that can be completed in the short, medium, and long term and provide a path forward to comprehensively address climate change and sustainable development for the Community of Westchester.
The Westchester Action Plan 2008 is available at: