Southampton Town has awarded a contract to a Danish consulting and engineering firm to draft a road map to help the municipality meet its ambitious energy and sustainability goals.
The town has set a goal of deriving the community’s electricity needs through renewable sources by 2025 and becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
The town board voted 4-0 at its meeting Nov. 23 to award a $149,976 contract to Ramboll to draft what is known as a Climate Action Plan, which will offer a framework to meet those objectives. Outgoing council member Julie Lofstad said she abstained because she will not be in office to review the plan.
In its proposal to the town, Ramboll, which has an office in Syracuse, said one of the first steps would be to take an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from town government operations as well as from the community.
"Basically, we need a metric," said Councilman John Bouvier who co-sponsored the measure with Councilman Rick Martel. "We need to understand what our footprint is, which we don't. We only know in very general terms where that is."
The firm’s report will also look at ways to engage the community, capture carbon dioxide and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the town. The study is expected to take eight months to a year to complete.
"We will present a set of scenarios that would enable the town to meet its targets, and forecast the associated emissions reductions, increase in renewable energy, costs, and other ancillary impacts of each scenario," the company stated.
Drafting a Climate Action Plan is a recommended step under the state’s Climate Smart Communities program. Southampton is one of 348 municipalities statewide to achieve certification through the program along with East Hampton Town, Hempstead Town, Suffolk County and Nassau County.
Huntington and East Hampton towns also have Climate Action Plans, but town officials believe Southampton’s plan will feature more precise measurements and recommendations.
"It will provide the town with succinct actions to implement energy and sustainability initiatives," said town environmental planner Michelangelo Lieberman. It also will, "blend an energy blueprint into the plan," he said.
The proposal also said any plans the company delivers will be good for the economy and benefit all residents equitably.
"People always say the environment is the engine of our economy," Bouvier said. "Our economy isn't just affected by algal blooms, it's also going to be affected by sea level rise and climate change."
"It's all related. It's all interconnected."