Who we are

Flyer about the LCAP program

The Local Climate Action Program (LCAP) is built on a simple idea: cooperation can make Pennsylvania’s communities draw down carbon emissions and support the places we call home. The LCAP brings Penn State students, faculty, local governments, and experts from different fields together to support and create a thriving and prosperous future for all Pennsylvanians.

What we do

The LCAP partners upper-level Penn State students with Pennsylvania’s local governments to determine a community’s contribution to climate change and help that government develop plans to draw down carbon emissions and adapt to a changing climate. In the fall semester, our students develop a working relationship with local government staff and officials. Using publicly available data from utilities, authorities, and other sources, they create a sector-based greenhouse gas emissions inventory using ICLEI ClearPath software. They adapt this report into a presentation and deliver it to their municipal or county partners. In the spring, our partners formulate a project that our students can deliver. The project can assist in greenhouse gas reduction, resilience, or a combination of the two. Students and our co-directors can help set up a planning process, troubleshoot solar cooperatives, create communication and education materials, explore impact fees, or develop reports on model zoning ordinances. At the end of the day, we want to ensure our students have a rich and professional experience and that Pennsylvania’s citizens and localities are well-served.


Over the last four years, students have served dozens of Pennsylvania counties and municipalities. They range in size from the small borough of Wormleysburg to small cities like Easton and historic cities like Erie and Scranton as well as Bucks and Chester County that surround Philadelphia. The total population of our LCAP participants is at least 2 million people. In the first three years, students from several Allegheny, Bucknell, Dickinson, Gettysburg, Lycoming, Penn State, Temple, Wilkes, and other colleges and universities worked directly with ICLEI and the DEP to conduct greenhouse gas inventories and basic climate action plans.


Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection created the Local Climate Action Program (LCAP) in 2019 through its Energy Office. Renowned climate ethicist Don Brown (Awardee of UNESCO’s Avicenna Award for Excellent in Ethics and Science, Faculty at Widener University Law School) had wanted Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities to provide climate-related expertise and assistance to communities to mitigate emissions. Heidi Kunsch, under then-Governor Tom Wolfe and Sec. Patrick O’Donnell, started the LCAP. They partnered university students from around Pennsylvania with municipalities to do greenhouse gas emissions inventories and climate action planning has come to Penn State.

In 2022, DEP turned this program over to Penn State. Today, it is run by Brandi Robinson (Teaching Professor, Energy and Sustainability Policy) and Peter Buck (Penn State Sustainability). They collaborate with Chris Nafe in the DEP’s Energy Office and Eli Yewdall from ICLEI. The ongoing partnership provides certainty regarding utility data, expert guidance with ClearPath software, and access to state and national networks of climate organizations.

Get Involved


Penn State students from many degree programs are welcome. If you want to go into environmental policy, energy services, corporate or government operations and compliance, applied climate science, advocacy, communications, or the growing fields of ESG or sustainable finance and operations, this program is for you. We have had Energy Engineering, Energy Business and Finance, Environmental Resource Management, Finance, Renewable Energy and Sustainable Systems, Sustainability Leadership, and other programs participate. Students must commit to enrolling for fall and spring semesters and recognize that these courses should be your top academic priority.  It is a time-consuming course sequence that requires technical skills, a high degree of communication, maturity, and personal flexibility. The LCAP is managed to continue the stewardship of this award-winning program DEP.

Having this sort of experience on a resume is truly invaluable and so I strongly encourage you to consider this opportunity.  To that end, you can only complete this program if you are otherwise eligible to take the classes you’ll be subbing them for.  For students in Environmental Resource Management, Community, Environment, and Development, Geography, Earth Sustainability Policy, and Sustainability Leadership, we can work with advisers to make sure that requirements are being met.

Municipal or County Governments

If your township, borough, city, or county Board or staff wants to take climate action, we can help. There is no perfect place to begin. You might be a municipal manager or planning director with a charge from your Board to get ready for 100% renewable energy. You might be the chair or a supervisor on a Board who is looking for ways to assist your public works staff to take the next steps. Or maybe you’re a citizen looking for tools. Tell us about yourself.

Project Examples

Get Involved:

Fill out the form below to express interest in participating in the LCAP program either as a student or a municipal/county government.


Peter Buck
(814) 865-7488

Brandi Robinson
(814) 867-4539


We are grateful to the staff in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections, Office of Climate Change and at ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. This program would not exist and continue without them.

Webinar Recording: Local Climate Action Planning—Penn State and Municipal Partners Implementing Together

This webinar, which took place on June 28, 2023, provided an overview of the Local Climate Action Program (LCAP), a partnership initiative of the PA Department of Environmental Protection, Penn State Sustainability, Penn State’s Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, and ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. While this webinar described a Pennsylvania-based program and related opportunities for PA municipalities, it will also give non-PA viewers an overview of an innovative program that could potentially be replicated in other states.

Download the webinar slides here(PDF)

Watch the recording here

Link shared during the webinar:

Webinar Description: Local Climate Action Program Co-Directors, Dr. Peter Buck (Penn State Sustainability), and Dr. Brandi Robinson (Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences), will describe the program during this one-hour webinar. The LCAP partners Penn State students with municipal and county governments to understand how Pennsylvania communities drive climate change and then ways they can draw down greenhouse gases and adapt to a changing climate. In the fall, students conduct a greenhouse gas inventory to count local contributions from transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial energy use, electricity production, solid waste, wastewater, agriculture, and other sources. In the spring, students’ complete projects the municipal or county partner prioritize. They can set up climate action and adaptation plans and processes, assist with community engagement, review ordinances, develop educational materials, and more.

Learn how municipalities can take advantage of this program, which is designed to train and assist local officials and community stakeholders on how to inventory and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through an engaged planning process facilitated by Penn State and other university faculty, staff, and students. Hear from community/students from the 2022 – 2023 cohort.

This webinar is hosted by the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development.

Credit: Andres Siimon via Unsplash