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Monroe to lead sustainability effort 

A $900,000 state grant will fund the development of a sustainability plan for the Rochester region, and Monroe County officials will lead the effort.

The plan is part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's Cleaner, Greener Communities program. The idea is to get local governments and communities thinking about energy issues and greenhouse gas emissions, says NYSERDA spokesperson Dayle Zatlin.

Although Monroe County is technically receiving the grant and overseeing the project, the plan will cover the same nine counties as the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. And each of those counties will be involved in the plan's development. An executive committee will guide the effort.

Justin Roj, deputy commissioner of Monroe County's Department of Environmental Services, says one of the first steps will be to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory. Using that data, the executive committee will look for ways to reduce those emissions, Roj says.

"The main goal of the project is to see where you can have environmental benefit and economic development," he says.

Committee members will also look at topics including transportation, storm water management, waste water treatment, land use planning, and the potential for building retrofits.

Some possible energy generation projects will be included in the plan, Roj says. For example, Monroe County's waste water treatment operations use anaerobic digestion, which is a way to break down biodegradable material. That process could also be used to create energy, Roj says.

The plan will tie in with the work of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The executive committee will develop project proposals, which will be reviewed and scored by the Council and then passed along to NYSERDA to compete with proposals from other parts of the state. The state is setting aside up to $90 million for the winning projects.

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