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Town of Hurley Climate Smart Task Force Updates

During 2022 the Hurley Climate Smart Task Force was very busy meeting our goal to complete actions and qualify for Bronze Certification. Last week after Coordinator Kristen Schara finished our narratives and re-checked our documenation, she submitted the work to NYSERDA for state review to do just that.

Our journey started in April of 2019 when the Hurley Town Board approved a pledge to become a become a NYS Climate Smart community. In November of 2020 the board approved the creation of the Climate Smart Task Force (CSTF) and appointed it's first members: Kristen Schara as Coordinator, Lynne Bailey and Andy Shapiro. Kristen and Lynne are still on the CSTF, and while Andy left, Erin Nylen joined us early last year and Planning Board member Peter McKnight followed. Melinda McKnight was our first TB liaison and helped with the initial resolution.

The major tasks we finished in 2022 included

  • Community and Town Operations Greenhouse Gas Inventories

  • Special energy audits of town municipal buidings - the Town Hall and old library - arranged by Kristen Schara

  • With help from Highway Superintendent Mike Shultis the Fleet Inventory is now complete

  • Green Building Standards for Government Buildings and

  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy adopted

We also exanded our membership in regional climate groups when Lynne Bailey became a Cornell Climate Steward. We created and placed educational signage for the town's heat pump and solar array installations. To complete our actions, we assembled all the documentation for those energy savers, the town's Chevy Bolt and EV charging station. We also added more information about heat pumps and climate change, made more Facebook posts and website entries.

120 points are needed to achieve Bronze Certificaiton. Here's a table with the actions that were submitted and the possible point totals. There's a larger version posted here.

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It took a bit longer than expected, but our Climate Smart Task Foce completed Hurley's Local Government Operations Inventory in December for the year 2019. The delay was caused by the decision to include estimated data from the landfill.*

We hope you'll take a few minutes to read the report posted here. For the year 2019, GHG emission from municipal operations is estimated at 5,523 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MTCO2e).

As you can see in these charts, emissions form the former landfill dwarf other operational sectors. In fact, 88% is ascribed to the landfill alone in 2019. Omitting landfill emissions, buildings and facilities make up remaining bulk of town emissions.

Since then, a mini-split heat pump system was installed at the Town Hall (2021) which is expected to reduce energy use and lower costs. The process of monitoring that is called Benchmarking, and the CSTF hopes to make that comparison in the next year. Landfill emissions likely peaked around 1996, and will drastically lessen by 2050. Emissions from the fleet of town vehicles also add a significant amount of emissions, and the town has one electric vehicle at this time.

* Estimates for the landfill are based on a general model, that multiplies the number of town residents for any given year, by a national average amount of waste, for every year the landfill was used. We may be able to obtain more accurate numbers in the future, if methane emissions can be monitored and measured directly at the site.

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People often wonder if recycling is really happening. After taking a tour of the Ulster

County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) last month, it is clear that it is!

The first stop on the tour was the composting area, with steaming piles full of mostly broken down compost. This compost, once finished, can be used in gardens, on lawns, and other locations where a soil amendment is desired.

Composting helps reduce the formation of methane, an important greenhouse gas, and reduces the amount of trash that has to be shipped to a permanent location. Because so much of our landfill is replete with organic material that can be composted, instead of leaching methane, which is such a toxic GHG, this is very significant. Looking ahead, expect to see more information about composting.

Inside the large building there are separate areas for paper recycling, plastics, metals, glass etc. It is well known that aluminum and steel are valuable materials in the recycling stream, but if properly cleaned and sorted, even plastics can be recycled into valuable materials. Clean paper and cardboard are great materials for recycling. Materials that cannot be recylced are being trucked to a landfill near Syracuse, New York. This landfill was scheduled to close in 2025*, and Ulster County is searching for a local alternative, in addition to encouraging zero-waste habits. Not only does our garbage contribute to a massive landfill, a lot of gasoline powered trucks make a long trip back and forth to do so.

"Wishful Recylcing" is something many of us are guilty of. We want to believe that the item we are putting in the recycling bin is recyclable. But, if it isn’t (such as a greasy pizza carton or a light bulb), it becomes a contaminant and makes other items in the recycling stream non-recyclable. If in doubt, put it in the regular trash. The more we can sort the trash, the more we can recycle.

The Town of Hurley Transfer Station is doing a great job of sorting items for recycling, which is picked up by UCRRA. Proper sorting allows for maximum recyling.

Recycling collected by private collectors, however, is sorted at their own sites and may not be as well recycled. - Peter McKnight, Nov 1, 2022

* Read about some of the issues at the upstate Seneca Falls Landfill in this opinion piece.

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