Certification Overview


The Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Certification program is organized around the 10 CSC pledge elements. See the Certification Framework page for more details about each pledge element (PE). Your local government can earn points for taking action across several areas related to climate change:

  • Forming teams and setting goals (PE 1 & 2)
  • Energy use (PE 3 & 4)
  • Solid waste management (PE 5)
  • Land-use policies (PE 6)
  • Enhancing community resilience (PE 7)
  • Supporting a green economy (PE 8)
  • Public engagement and commitment to an evolving process (PE 9 & 10)

The certification program recognizes communities for their accomplishments through a rating system leading to three levels of award: bronze, silver, and gold. (The gold level is currently under development.) Each level involves earning a minimum number of points and meeting certain requirements related to priority actions and CSC pledge elements. For example, to become a bronze certified CSC, an applicant must earn at least 120 points, complete at least one action under four different pledge elements, complete the two mandatory actions, and complete three priority actions. See the Certification Levels page for more details.

Program Goals and Principles

The goals of the CSC Certification program are to engage and educate local governments in New York State, provide a robust framework to guide their climate action efforts, and recognize their achievements. 

The structure of the certification program is based on the CSC pledge elements that were developed in 2009. Participation in the program is voluntary. The program is designed to encourage ongoing implementation of actions that reduce of greenhouse gas emission and help communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

The following design guidelines were used to develop the rating system:

  • Broadly Applicable: The program is designed to be applicable and useful to all local governments in New York State.
  • User Friendly: The program has an organized, menu-based system, which allows local governments to select actions that are most appropriate to their local goals. 

  • Acknowledges Early Adopters: Local governments can earn points for some actions that were implemented in the past and represent early engagement with the program. 

  • Promotes Ongoing Action: The framework and overall program are designed to drive ongoing action toward achieving goals. 

  • Rewards Leaders: Bonus points can be awarded for local governments that demonstrate performance improvements or innovative strategies.