Community Catalyst Fund Supports Municipal Green Team Development in Westchester County Villages

By Dani Glaser, Green Team Spirit

“To hit the climate challenge ahead of us we need to make changes now.  Our village governments need to set an example for our communities, and this change starts from within. Our village green teams will help change the culture, and this training will help us do that.”


- Mayor Peter Swiderski, Village of Hastings-on-Hudson 

 ”The Green Team initiative is a great example of the action that can be taken at local levels of government to improve energy efficiency and savings, which is not only good for the environment and our quality of life, but good for business too. It is also another example of how the villages are working more closely together to share services and opportunities to lower the cost of government and benefit taxpayers.”

- Mayor Hartley Connett, Village of Dobbs Ferry

Green Team Spirit was contracted by the Villages of Dobbs Ferry and Hastings-on-Hudson, NY to develop municipal Green Team programs for internal government operations.  Generous funding for this work derives from grants awarded to the Village of Dobbs Ferry and the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson from Clean Air-Cool Planet’s Community Catalyst Fund. The grant supported training and assistance to municipal employees in the critical areas of leadership development, goal setting, identification of resource-conservation opportunities, and communication.  The program is further intended to serve as a role model for residents, local businesses and neighboring municipalities.

The program kicked off on March 1, 2011 at Dobbs Ferry Village Hall where Mayor Connett of Dobbs Ferry, Mayor Swiderski of Hastings-on-Hudson and 18 Village leaders attended a Green Team Leadership Training session led by Dani Glaser of Green Team Spirit.  Over the course of three months, the Green Teams met on a regular basis, identifying clear goals and began working on prioritized projects.  They assigned leadership roles to keep the teams organized and on track for future growth.  Roles include:

  • Green Team Coordinator – point person responsible for (intra) Green Team communications (meeting calendar, goal tracking, etc.).
  • Green Team Secretary – responsible for taking minutes at meetings.
  • Municipal Liaison – responsible for communicating with neighboring Green Teams to share ideas and resources

Initial Areas of Focus in Hastings-on-Hudson

Waste & Recycling

  • Green Team members conducted a manual waste audit at the Municipal Building, Library and Recreation Center.  The results will serve as a benchmark for waste reduction goals.
  • Volunteers stenciled the Green Team logo and the words “Recycling” and “Trash” on the bins outside of the library and municipal buildings.
  • Green Team members met with the owner of the janitorial service contractor and staff to make sure that all waste remained properly source separated on route to its destination.  Of note, this service uses all green cleaning products.

Paper

Paper saving practices and switching to electronic forms of communication were well underway before the Green Team started. Knowing that there is always room for improvement, the Green Team embarked on the following paper saving initiatives:

  • Paper Audit – Counted the reams of paper purchased in FY10/11 (June to May) by the Village and associated costs as a benchmark for improvement. 
  • A decision was made to switch to 100% recycled copy paper for FY11/12.  The cost increase was minimal and paper saving practices help to offset the cost of this initiative that is very beneficial to the environment.
  • Set printer default to double-sided for printers, village-wide where feasible. 
  • Electronic board packets – Village board, Planning board and Zoning board packets will transition from paper to electronic, as is feasible beginning in June 2011.
  • Paper towels – New, efficient towel dispensers that dispense one (small) hand towel at a time will replace the inefficient dispensers that “pull out” multiple tri-fold towels and waste a great deal of paper, resulting in paper savings and cost savings. The Green Team is evaluating high efficiency hand dryers as well.
  • Payroll System – The Green Team plans to explore ways to minimize paper in the payroll system by encouraging direct deposit and exploring the feasibility of emailing pay stubs.  They will coordinate with Dobbs Ferry, which has this process underway.

Communication

  • The Green Team is working on obtaining a complete email list of all staff for electronic distribution of staff newsletters, rather than printed communications.  Green Team updates and tips are planned as part of the content.
  • Signage with the new Green Team logo will be posted increasingly in areas for behavioral reminders.

Energy

Information about the most energy- and cost-efficient way to manage computers will be communicated to staff. 

 Initial Areas of Focus in Dobbs Ferry

 Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

  • Working on getting new HVAC and lighting systems for the Library, with efficient room controls and sensors.
  • Lighting fixtures in Village Hall are being replaced to make it more energy efficient.  
  • A bid for solar PV panels was approved by the Village board on June 14th, to be placed atop the Library and DPW buildings.
  • LED streetlights are being re-bid with broader specifications.

 Paper

  • Paper Audit – Counted the reams of paper purchased in FY10/11 (June to May) by the Village and associated costs as a benchmark for improvement.
  • Paper Policy – Paper guidelines for dissemination to staff are under review by the Green Team. Double-sided printing to be the default.
  • Electronic Board packets — currently in use by Library board; in discussion with other boards (village, planning, building, zoning) on switching to electronic processes where feasible. 
  • Electronic subscription to Village calendar – Beginning in May 2011, the quarterly Village calendar, formerly mailed to all residents, was taken on line and available via email subscription only; saving 20,000 pieces of paper/year plus eliminating the cost of printing and postage.
  • Scanning – Village is in the process of scanning items such as permits, titles and residential building plans that will be available on-line.  State forms are increasingly scanned and filled out on line.
  • Payroll – working toward the goal of 100% direct deposit and emailing pay stubs.
  • Village invested in highly efficient system that saves time and money for purchasing, accounting and budgeting practices. 

 Green Cleaning

The Village put out a bid contract for cleaning services.  Service providers will continue to use green cleaning products already in practice.

 Waste & Recycling

  • $10,000 was spent on new recycling bins and garbage cans for Cedar and Main Streets.
  • Recycling program is expanding in the Village in accordance with the County’s new rules on recycling of plastics.
  • Community clean up day for past 2 years, very successful.

 Next Steps

The Village Green Teams have accomplished a great deal in a short period of time.  They are well organized and will have ongoing access to information and tools from Green Team Spirit to continue their work toward a more sustainable government and community.  Dobbs Ferry and Hastings on Hudson join the Town of Cortlandt as the first three municipal Green Teams in Westchester County, leading an intra-municipal effort toward greener government.

Explore posts in the same categories: Carbon Management, climate change, Community Action, Energy Efficiency, environment, Fuel Efficiency, Global Warming, government planning, local energy, Planning, Solutions, sustainability, Uncategorized

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