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Municipal collaboration for carbon footprinting: Syracuse, New York case study

Carolyn Ramsden (Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, Syracuse, New York, USA)
Richard C. Smardon (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York, USA)
Gregory Michel (Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, City of Syracuse, Syracuse, New York, USA)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 6 May 2014



The City of Syracuse, New York, has undertaken energy conservation measures over the past decade. In 2011, the city completed a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory that serves as the basis for current sustainability planning processes, and the process to complete this analysis was uniquely collaborative and is offered as a case study. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This inventory was the product of collaboration between the city, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, through the Climate Change Innovation Program. Following guidance from International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives's Local Government Operations Protocol and utilizing Clean Air and Climate Protection software, the baseline year for the inventory was 2002, and the municipal analysis covered five sectors: buildings and facilities, vehicle fleet, aviation, water delivery, and streetlights and traffic lights. The city's community analysis assessed residential, commercial and industrial energy use, transportation and waste sectors.


The City of Syracuse has achieved energy and GHG reductions over the inventory timeframe. While savings have been accomplished, significant challenges to future energy and GHG reductions remain.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations include obtaining data quality and consistency for analysis.

Practical implications

This case study could serve as a model for moving forward with GHG inventory analysis and action for small- to medium-sized cities in the NE, USA.

Social implications

This was an experiment in collaboration between an academic institution, NGOs and a municipal entity.


The city's 2010 inventory has been followed by community outreach and stakeholder engagement for the sustainability planning process. The city formed advisory teams composed of community experts in the areas of energy and green building, natural environment, waste and recycling, education and outreach, and food systems. The collaborative approach the city utilized offers a helpful model for other municipalities to follow to overcome resource constraints and complete energy and cost-saving carbon footprinting assessments.



Ramsden, C., C. Smardon, R. and Michel, G. (2014), "Municipal collaboration for carbon footprinting: Syracuse, New York case study", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 224-254.



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