Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has appointed Lauri Taylor as Coordinator of the county’s new Climate Smart Communities Initiative

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has appointed Lauri Taylor as Coordinator of the county’s new Climate Smart Communities Initiative.

“Lauri Taylor has spent years protecting the environment in Putnam County,” Odell said. “She has the spirit and experience that make her the right choice to lead the county’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to a changing climate.”

Taylor currently serves as the Senior Environmental Planner for Putnam County as well as the District Manager for the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District, positions that make her uniquely qualified to head the Climate Smart Communities Initiative, Odell said. As Senior Environmental Planner, Taylor has overseen long-range planning studies to preserve our natural resources and partnered with the municipalities to assess the environmental impacts of capital projects throughout the county.

In her role as manager of the Soil and Water Conservation District, Taylor has worked with the Legislature, town governments, landowners and residents to address soil erosion, site reviews and other conservation projects.

Through her educational outreach to the community, Taylor has developed strong relationships with stakeholders in the Highways & Facilities Department, the Planning Department and others that will help facilitate the work of the Climate Smart Communities Initiative and will work closely with the Task Force to achieve the Climate Smart Communities Goals, Odell said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to protect our natural resources and help the county reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Taylor said. “There couldn’t be a more important job.”

In addition to naming Taylor as Coordinator, Odell has selected the Capital Projects Committee to serve as the Climate Smart Communities Task Force. The Capital Projects Committee sets priorities and evaluates the feasibility, cost and method of financing for all of the county’s proposed capital projects. The committee has overseen an energy audit of county buildings and is preparing to upgrade nearly 20 county facilities with energy saving measures, such as adding new solar arrays, converting from oil to natural gas, replacing windows and antiquated HVAC systems and upgrading to smart building management technology. Given its experience, Odell said designating the Capital Projects Committee to serve as the task force was the logical step.

“The committee is trained to take a comprehensive approach, and that’s what you need in order to be truly climate-smart,” Odell said. “It will examine future county policies with an eye toward reducing greenhouse gases, increasing energy efficiencies, promoting job growth and improving the quality of life.”

The Climate Smart Communities initiative is a program of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. If the county achieves the department’s Climate Smart Communities certification, Putnam will be eligible for funding through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Clean Energy Communities program. The certification will also make Putnam a stronger candidate for other state environmental grants and further demonstrate County Executive Odell’s commitment to protecting the environment and health of our beautiful county.