The Village of Great Neck Plaza (“the Village”) may be small in size (about a third of a square mile) but it is leading the way on climate change on Long Island. In February 2016, it became one of the first villages on Long Island to adopt a climate action plan (CAP). The CAP stems from the Village’s October 2012 Climate Smart Communities (CSCs) pledge.
The CAP has nine major initiatives:
- Reduce overall Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 20% by 2020 below the 2005 baseline community-wide emissions.
- Reach CSC Certification of a minimum of 150 points by 2017.
- Upgrade old florescent lighting in Village Hall offices by 2017 to energy-efficient LED lighting.
- Install upgraded timing switches for managing usage and temperature on heating and cooling systems in Village Hall by 2017.
- Install motion sensors where feasible to turn off electricity when Village Hall offices are not occupied.
- Complete the Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) project for the Sustainable Maple Drive Parking Lot Reconstruction by the end of 2016.
- Develop multi-year strategy and costs by 2017 for converting existing Village streetlights to LED fixtures.
- Through the Long Island Green Homes Program, encourage a minimum of 20 percent of the Village’s single-family homes by 2017 to get a free energy audit and do the upgrade work to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the Village.
- Explore other potential future actions in the CAP and determine by the end of 2017 a time line for their implementation, as may be feasible.
The CAP is divided into four sections: (1) Introduction; (2) Municipal Facilities and Operations; (3) Community-Wide Policies and Initiatives; and (4) Climate Change, Planning and Adaptation.
Municipal Facilities and Operations
The Village has control over Village Hall (a 20,000 square foot building), two parking structures, and a small fleet of vehicles. The Village intends to make significant changes to these assets to reduce its energy usage and GHG emissions by 20% by 2020.
In 2001, the Village conducted an energy audit of its Village Hall and its two parking garages. It tracked its energy and water consumption. It already installed lighting controls and automatic sensors in Village Hall, digital temperature controls and timers for its HVAC systems, and lockboxes over thermostats. It modified the lighting system in its garages to reduce consumption and electric usage during peak hours. It is continuing its lighting upgrades in Village Hall. It instituted a policy to shut off lights, computers and other electronic equipment when not in use. It is reconstructing one of the parking garages with green technology to include porous pavement, a rain garden, LED streetlights, solar metering stations, and low-maintenance landscaping.
It intends to consider changes to the Village Code to encourage the use of more efficient building products. It is considering a policy to mandate the Village to install energy and resource efficient equipment and building techniques in its own facilities. It is looking at installing rooftop solar panels at Village Hall and using geothermal heating and cooling systems to replace its existing HVAC systems. It is looking to replace its current vehicles with more fuel efficient models to cut fuel costs and GHG emissions. It is also looking at alternative fuel vehicles.
The Village is looking at its solid waste and wastewater practices. It may create an e-waste program and encourage more recycling. It may consider composting and re-use of grey water at Village facilities.
Community-Wide Policies and Initiatives
The Village has control of the policies that impact community emissions, including zoning authority and control over land use. The Village is considering adopting the Energy Star Certified Home Program as a requirement for all new single-family home construction. It may join the Long Island Green Home Coalition to promote energy audits by residents. It may establish an energy consumption calculator to benchmark energy use at new and existing homes as a mechanism to calculate and reduce the Village’s carbon footprint. It may offer refunds of LEED certification fees for certain projects as an incentive. It may require new residential construction to incorporate stormwater management features. It may seek to encourage multiple dwellings to implement white rooftops to reduce energy usage in the hot summer months.
The Village may use its zoning power to facilitate solar panel installations on homes. It may mandate use of recycled paper for newsletters and other publications or help them develop their web presence to eliminate paper copies.
The Village will seek to encourage bicycling, walking and transit ridership. (The LIRR Great Neck station is located in the Village.) It is working to improve vehicle and pedestrian access to shopping areas. It may create bicycle lanes and promote more walkable activities.
The Village already has transit-oriented development zoning. It may look at other efforts such as smart growth initiatives, mixed-use development and perhaps establish a “Green Business Incubator.”
Climate Change, Planning and Adaptation
The Village intends to integrate climate change planning into its comprehensive plans, hazard mitigation plans, emergency management plans and post-disaster recovery plans. It is going to partner with local hotels and other structures to provide stormproof shelters. It participated in the Nassau County Hazard Mitigation Plan to reduce the impacts of storms and to increase storm resiliency. The Village completed a Tree Management and Implementation Plan to maintain a healthy tree stock.
It will be interesting to see if other municipalities on Long Island follow Great Neck Plaza and enact CAPs.
 The Village has 148 single-family homes. It also has 90 multi-family apartment buildings, over 260 retail stores, 40 office buildings, 2 four-star hotels, a nursing home, a senior independent living facility and a senior assisted living facility.