NYSERDA and NYSDOT Launch Tri-City Competition to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY — NYSERDA and NYSDOT Launch Tri-City Competition to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Over Two Years in Westchester

New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers employees to lead by example to reduce driving in the State’s first Green Cities Commuter Challenge

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and three Westchester mayors launched the first Green Cities Commuter Challenge to see which city can reduce greenhouse gas emissions the most over the next two years. By leading by example by directly promoting a reduction of driving by city employees to and from work, the cities are helping the state meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030.

Initiatives such as this build on the progress already made to meet the goals of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers and ensure 50 percent of electricity consumed comes from renewable energy sources by 2050.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul announced the start of the first year of the competition during Climate Week on National Car-Free Day in Yonkers. She was joined by the mayors of New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers as well as city employees who will be participating in the challenge.

“New York State is leading the nation with its aggressive mandate to increase reliance on renewable energy systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lt. Gov. Hochul. “This two-year competition highlights the leadership of local governments by demonstrating how they can participate in making New York a cleaner and healthier place to live.”

The Green Cities Commuter Challenge is a voluntary, friendly competition among employees in the three cities. MetroPool, Inc. is overseeing the project and will kick off the competition with a survey of city employees on their commuting habits (e.g., how many miles they drive to work, if they ride a bike, etc.). Surveys will be conducted quarterly to measure changes in travel habits with the results posted on the cities internal websites. At the end of the first year of the competition, a final survey will determine which city reduced greenhouse gas emissions the most. In total, more than 3,300 city employees are eligible to participate in the competition.

As part of the Green Cities Commuter Challenge, four 55″ screens will be installed in public areas to show local bus and train schedules as well as information about carpools and vanpools. Two screens will be installed in New Rochelle (one at City Hall and one at a still to-be-determined location), one screen in the White Plains downtown business district, and one at the Yonkers Public Library.

In addition, specific URLs (websites) have been created for each location so members of the public can access the same local transportation information in real-time. This information will also be available on the three cities internal websites (i.e., only available to their own employees), along with links to the 511 NY Rideshare program, which has a ride-matching system and provides general transportation information. City employees will also be able to access information relating to the progress of the competition, tips for commuting, upcoming workshops and special events to learn about commuting options.

The transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The State is providing $300,000 for this project, which is being co-managed by NYSERDA and DOT.

Under REV, New York State is putting renewed emphasis on 

harnessing the capabilities of local governments to motivate their communities and accelerate local energy-saving and renewable energy projects. Community actions will help them meet their sustainability, climate and energy objectives while contributing to the State’s energy goals.

“Projects such as the Green Cities Commuter Challenge support Governor Cuomo’s REV strategy and enable more New Yorkers to join together in making a difference in our energy and environmental future,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “We commend the three mayors and their employees for their willingness to lead by example and look forward to congratulating the first year’s winner next fall.”

NYSDOT Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll said, “Governor Cuomo is leading the way on sustainability and this friendly competition between New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers is one more way to highlight its importance. The State Department of Transportation is pleased to partner with NYSERDA on this initiative and others, all supporting the Governor’s goal of making New York State a better place to live, work and play now and into the future.”

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said, “In this friendly competition, everyone will be a winner, as we work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut costs, and create more livable, sustainable communities.”

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said, “The installation of the transit screens and the real-time transit information they’ll provide will be enormously valuable to city employees as well as the tens of thousands who commute into White Plains on a daily basis. Plus, we always enjoy a little friendly competition with our neighboring cities.”

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “Yonkers is excited to join in on this fun initiative that will educate our employees and residents about the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thank you to Governor Cuomo, NYSERDA, NYSDOT and MetroPool for the leadership and vision that provides for friendly competition that will change attitudes and habits and create a cleaner, greener Yonkers.”

John Lyons, President and CEO, MetroPool, said, “Providing reliable, easy-to-access and understandable information to employees and residents addresses one of the major barriers to people trying new transportation options. From the beginning, the mayors and their teams in these cities understood the value of leadership and public communication, and how a fun, ‘friendly’ competition could influence behavior.”