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Nov 10, 2015 1:57 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton's Climate Action Plan Looks To Accelerate Actions Against Climate Change

Nov 10, 2015 2:23 PM

Last year the East Hampton Town Board unanimously adopted the goal to replace 100 percent of the community’s electricity consumption with renewable energy systems by the year 2020, as initiated by the town’s Energy and Sustainability Committee.

At Thursday’s town board meeting, the board took a major stride toward that goal with the adoption of the Climate Action Plan, or CAP. The plan, originally presented by chairman of the committee Gordian Raacke and committee member John Sousa-Botos at the October 20 board meeting, seeks to spread awareness of accelerating climate change and rising sea levels while also presenting ways to guide East Hampton into a sustainable future.

“This is just one initiative, one plan which really is part of a larger effort,” said Mr. Raacke on a phone call from Germany where he is attending a renewable energy conference.

Mr. Raacke described the plan as a working platform and an education tool for the community.

“It takes the whole community to address the threat of climate change,” he said. “We have to make people aware that there is a problem. Let them know we have tools to prepare for it and we still have time to prevent the worst.”

Former chairman and active committee member Frank Dalene, said there are four major elements of the plan: municipal buildings, municipal fleets, residential buildings and community planning.

For municipal buildings, the plan encourages the consideration of energy performance contracts and modifying behavioral patterns that are lacking in energy efficiency.

They are also looking to replace or convert vehicles to focus on alternative fuel vehicles, hybrids and electric vehicles to improve mileage, reduce emissions and cut down operational costs. Part of this goal was achieved last November with the creation of electrical charging stations, located at East Hampton Town Hall and the East Hampton Airport.

In terms of residential buildings, Mr. Dalene said they hope to implement a home energy rating system plan for all new or reconstructed homes.

“It’s the same idea like when you buy a car you have a sticker on the window telling you the miles per gallon,” Mr. Dalene said. “People who want to sell their home may want to look into ways the house can be more efficient and use that rating as a sales tool to sell their house.”

While climate change remains a global problem, Mr. Dalene said CAP addresses issues specific to East Hampton.

“We’re ground zero for rising sea levels. Even though people have different beliefs [about] climate change, we don’t want to get into that,” said Mr. Dalene. “It’s indisputable that ocean temps are increasing as a result of thermal expansion alone, creating a sea level rise. As a coastal area, we’re already seeing it happen.”

Mr. Raacke said he commended the East Hampton Town Board for understanding the issues brought to them and “having the guts” to address them.

“An elected official could say, ‘These things are years away. I’m not going to be in office anymore.’ But the board is taking charge and accepting responsibility. Now it’s up to us make this all happen,” he said.

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