The Western New York Regional Sustainability Plan (2013) was developed by the Regional Planning Consortium with input from key stakeholders and the public. The Plan was developed with a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) under the Cleaner, Greener, Communities (CGC) program established by Governor Cuomo in 2011. The plan is intended as a guide for integrated, sustainable solutions to improve our quality of life. These solutions include ideas for regional decision-making on land use, housing, transportation, infrastructure, energy, and environmental practices. The WNY Regional Sustainability Plan functions as two phases. The first phase uses grants to create new sustainability plans or to expand the scope of existing sustainability plans. In its second function, the plan consists of a competitive $90 million dollars of state funding to use toward regional projects that support and implement the regional sustainability goals identified during the planning process.
The plan develops goals with consideration given to economic development, governance, and the impacts of climate change on the region. Strategies were then designed to meet the goals created. These goals and strategies share a number of themes which are addressed throughout the plan and include the following:
- GHG Emissions Reduction A successful regional sustainability plan should result in an overall reduction in GHG emissions.
- Enhancement of the Regional Economy Sustainability should be achieved in coordination with the support and enhancement of the regional economy.
- Government Policy and Programs Local government policy and programs can support regional sustainability initiatives.
- Consideration of Diverse Land Uses Sustainable practices should meet the diverse needs or urban, suburban, and rural communities.
- Conservation of Natural Resources Conserving, enhancing, and protecting the region’s abundant natural resources, including air, water and land, is vital to regional sustainability.
- Education Promoting and improving public awareness of sustainability issues is essential in realizing the region’s sustainability goals.
- Revitalization of Main Streets Revitalization of the region’s cities, main streets, and community centers will create more livable communities and support local economies.
- Economic Viability of Agriculture Supporting the economic viability of the agricultural industry in WNY and protecting the region’s agricultural and forestry resources will serve to maintain their viability for continued sustainable uses.
- Sustainable Energy Use and Production Building energy efficiency programs while increasing infrastructure for the public and private use of alternative fuels will help build diverse energy production within the region.
- Improve and Enhance Air Quality The reduction of fossil fuel energy generation and fuel use throughout the region will work to reduce harmful air emissions being emitted throughout the region. Additionally, strategies to focus development within existing corridors resulting in the conservation of open space.
The Western New York Regional Sustainability Plan fully embraces the principles of Smart Growth (even referencing them in the document) as well as the HUD Livability Principles. The intent of the document is to establish a framework for measuring progress toward a more sustainable region. This is done through sustainability indicators and targets that allow for quantifiable benchmarks to measure results over time, which will help gauge success.