Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

March-April 2018

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Welcome to the March-April 2018 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Photo by longyoung licensed under CC by-NC 2.0.

TCCPI is a multisector collaboration seeking to leverage the climate action commitments made by Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, and the Town of Ithaca to mobilize a countywide energy efficiency effort and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy . Launched in June 2008 and generously supported by the Park Foundation, TCCPI is a project of the Sustainable Markets Foundation.
We are committed to helping Tompkins County achieve a dynamic economy, healthy environment, and resilient community through a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. 
Ithaca College Moves to 100% Renewable Electricity

Ithaca College has decided to transition its electricity supply exclusively to clean and renewable sources, significantly reducing its carbon footprint and helping move the college toward its goal of becoming carbon neutral.

Since February 2018, 100 percent of the college's electricity has been purchased from Green-e certified national wind farms. The move will offset around 7,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year - roughly 35 percent of IC's total emissions.

The Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise.
"This is a major step closer to our institution's stated goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, and an important way that our college community can demonstrate our commitment to a critical issue that affects us locally and globally," said Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado.

In August 2017, Collado asked the Office of Facilities to convene a Climate Action Plan Reassessment Team, comprising faculty, students and staff, in order to assess the college's progress in meeting the goals established originally in its 2009 Climate Action Plan. Based on research performed by the Office of Energy Management and Sustainability, the reassessment team recommended to President Collado that IC purchase all of its electricity from clean, renewable sources.

"The strong work of the Climate Action Plan Reassessment Team is a continuation of Ithaca College's deep and proud history around environmental stewardship and sustainability," said Collado. "I was thrilled to support their recommendation."

The team continues to research what additional steps could be taken toward carbon neutrality and whether the college's 2050 timeline can be moved forward.

The switch to all renewables is expected to increase electricity costs to the college by just 1.5 percent, or $35,000 per year. 
IC's current contract for wind-generated electricity runs through December 2020. Tim Carey, associate vice president for facilities, said that future contracts will also be for exclusively renewable sources, barring unforeseen changes to their availability.

The college is a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and Second Nature's Climate Leadership Network, and has been consistently named in the Princeton Review's list of top "green" colleges.

In 2011, Ithaca College became just the second academic institution in the world to have two newly constructed buildings earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council when the Peggy Ryan Williams Center joined the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise in achieving that designation. The Athletics & Events Center and Classroom Link corridor have both earned LEED Gold.
Next TCCPI Meeting:
Friday, April 27, 2018
9 to 11 am
Tompkins County Public Library
Borg Warner Conference Room
101 E. Green St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
TCCPI Releases 2017 Report on Member Achievements

The Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative has released its  2017 report  on the achievements of the coalition's members in fighting climate change and working to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.  Nearly three dozen local member organizations submitted documentation of the work they carried out in 2017. Highlights include the following:

Alternatives Federal Credit Union
  • One of the founding members of the Ithaca 2030 District
  • Made 115 loans for solar energy installations totaling $1,484,133
  • Staff "Green Team" working to continually improve energy efficiency and reduce waste
  • Working with local energy consultants DESquared and Greenstar Cooperative Market on the feasibility of a local, cooperative community solar benefits program
Cayuga Medical Center
  • Cornell Master of Engineering students completed a project to review alternative energy uses at the hospital that included the use of many combined sources.  These included solar photovoltaic, large scale battery storage, and (CHP) combined heat and power.
  • Planned project for 2018 Site Lighting upgrade to LED to save more than 260,000 kWh annually, CO2 Emissions - 311,951 lbs./yr., SO2 Emissions - 4,159 lbs./yr., NOx Emissions - 17,937 lbs./yr
  • Installed LED Lighting in Boiler House to replace T12 lighting fixtures
City of Ithaca
  • Earned NYSERDA Clean Energy community designation, making City eligible for a $100,000 grant
  • Awarded three Electric Vehicle Charging Stations through NYSERDA grant 
  • Continued the Green Building Policy project, a comprehensive study of policy tools to incentivize or mandate green building standards for new construction
  • Adopted benchmarking policy for City facilities, mandating tracking of energy use in city facilities over 1000 sq. ft. and annual public disclosure of benchmarking information 
Cornell University
  • Cornell University has been approved as an EPA Green Power Partner as of September 2017. During its initial 12-month reporting period, Cornell used 15.4 million kilowatt-hours of green power. Cornell's five regional 2MW solar farms and on-campus hydroplant and rooftop PV arrays now generate the equivalent of 10% of the Ithaca campus' annual electricity use.
  • Cornell is leading the Ivy League in sustainability, recently earning a  Gold rating  for the sixth year in a row from the  Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS),  a program under the  Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)  that helps colleges keep track of their environmental progress.
  • The Maplewood Apartments - graduate student residences under construction between Mitchell Street and Maplewood Avenue by EdR Collegiate Housing - will be an all-electric neighborhood with 444 units and 872 beds. 
Downtown Ithaca Alliance
  • The DIA, in collaboration with Ithaca Carshare and Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT), is currently implementing a pilot Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan with the immediate goal of removing up to 100 single occupancy vehicles from the city garage system.
  • Downtown projects, such as the additional bike racks that are being installed as a result of a grant from a local foundation, will decrease dependency on automobiles and increase walkability and access to public transit.
Finger Lakes ReUse
  • Finger Lakes ReUse is expanding its capacity in the face of a growing global waste problem, currently working to develop its Ithaca ReUse Center to accommodate more processing and retail of reused materials. 
  • ReUse was honored for its environmental impacts by receiving a 2017 eTown "eChievement award."
  • An estimated 420 tons of materials were diverted from potentially ending up in landfills this year, a 27% increase over 330 tons in 2016
Get Your GreenBack
  • Through presentations and tabling we engaged directly with over 800 local residents on energy programs and incentives. Over 500 of these were through the efforts of volunteer Energy Navigators, who used their contacts with large employers, libraries, service groups, as well as tabling at fairs, to connect with interested residents.
  • 15 people started the Energy Navigators training and 12 finished. Together, with those who continued from last year, there are currently over 15 active Energy Navigators. 
  • We developed and printed a brochure with the three steps needed to go for homes to go "Net-zero." It was developed with the support and input of the CCE Energy Team, HeatSmart, and area contractors. A companion slide presentation was developed which has been used both by the GYGB coordinator and Energy Navigators to give presentations.
HOLT Architects
  • HOLT has continued to investigate methodologies for better understanding the energy needs and uses of its 619 West State Street offices as well as potential actions for lowering the overall energy use. 
  • Presently 85% of all heating and lighting energy used is produced by the photovoltaic array on the roof, but HOLT hopes to get ever closer to being truly Net Zero. Toward this end, HOLT the generous offer to engage in a pilot program of real-time energy monitoring, a program administered through Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council
  • From mid-2016 to mid-2017 Tompkins County and its consultant, Energetics, Inc., developed a NYSERDA funded Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Plan for Tompkins County.
  • The ITCTC continued to advance online ridesharing in the greater Tompkins County area. The effort has a new name, Finger Lakes Rideshare, and can be found at or
  • The ITCTC is working with a consultant firm, RSG, Inc., in a NYSERDA funded project to develop an enhanced model to determine greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. This work started towards the end of 2017 and will continue through 2018. 
Ithaca Carshare
  • 558 new Ithaca Carshare members reported that they would sell or avoid the purchase of 152 vehicles
  • 1,416 members took a combined 19,588 trips totaling 227,044 miles (or 14 trips and 160 miles per member)
  • Fleetwide fuel economy increased to 33 mpg, 29% above the national average of 25.2 mpg
  • As a result of the shifted driving habits of these members and higher than average fuel economy, an estimated 14,116 gallons of gasoline and 126 metric tons of carbon dioxide were avoided.
Ithaca College
  • Carried out LED lighting upgrades throughout the campus
  • Installed additional building-level water and electricity sub-meters to identify usage patterns
  • Completed comprehensive Scope 3 emissions assessment with help from Parking Services, Travel Services, and International Programs.
  • Established monthly sustainability themes including Waste, Transportation, Water, Food, Energy, Health, Social Justice, Business, and Climate Change.
  • School of Business hosted the first ever Ithaca College Sustainability Week from April 17 to April 22 with daily educational and recreational opportunities focused on the 3 pillars of sustainability. Events included guest speakers, participation in the Climate March, panel discussions, and hosted meals.
  • We introduced a new educational program for Learn@EcoVillage, the Ithaca Biodiversity Project. This program empowers youth to help wildlife and our planet, at a local level, through establishing native habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
  • Ian Shapiro and Liz Walker taught two Net Zero Energy Building workshops, for architects, developers, and green builders. Architects were able to earn 14 Learning Units for each of the two-day workshops, and LEED professionals earned 14 GBCI CE hours. The May and October workshops were held at EcoVillage, and featured building examples from the three neighborhoods.
  • We received a $25,000 grant from the Park Foundation for "Asking the Right Questions: Green Building Knowledge for Local Decision Makers." This allowed us to offer workshops to Town Planning Board members, local elected officials, planners, and others who interface with developers. 
Local First Ithaca
  • Produced our 7th Annual Guide to Being Local
  • Continued our work with the Ithaca 2030 District and Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative Steering Committees
  • Worked with the nationally known group Civic Economics to produce the first, comprehensive analysis of the economic impact in our community of local, independently owned businesses
New Roots Charter School
  • New Roots was identified as one of ten leading schools in the field of education for sustainability in the nation by the Green Schools National Network. As an inaugural member of the Catalyst Network, New Roots will prepare to become a replication hub for other schools in 2020.
  • A team of New Roots teachers, students, and administrators visited schools with environmental stewardship missions across the Northeast as part of Teaching Our Cities, an EPA-funded project in 2017, and hosted other project participants for a two-day workshop at New Roots and EcoVillage at Ithaca in August. The project goal is to develop and refine curriculum that engages students with a study of the environmental and human landscape of their cities and regions.
  • All New Roots students participated in a course called A Sense of Place in September, investigating the relationship between people and the natural environment in our region through the lens of Education for Sustainability (EfS) standards.
Park Foundation
  • Sustainable Ithaca awarded 8 grants for a total of $495,000 for renewable energy and efficiency education and policy in Tompkins County.
  • The Environment Program made 56 grants nationally and in New York state for a total of $2,242,500 on climate end energy issues.
  • The Foundation filed or co-filed shareholder resolutions with ExxonMobil, Chevron, Dominion, Anadarko, Hess and Entergy on issues such as climate change risk and fugitive methane emissions. Approvals ranged from 23.7% to 39%, with one resolution successfully withdrawn (Anadarko) when the company agreed to issue the report requested.
Paleontological Research Institution, Museum of the Earth, and Cayuga Nature Center
  • We published The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change, the latest in our series of Teacher-Friendly Guides to help secondary school teachers in their classrooms.
  • We started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to send the Teacher-Friendly Guide to teachers across country, starting with the Northeast. This campaign has inspired donations to send the guide to other parts of the country as well. As of this writing we have raised over $100,000.
  • We conducted sessions on climate change education at national and regional conferences (e.g., Geological Society of America, Science Teachers Association of New York State, Association of Math Teachers of New York State, and more), and teacher professional development workshops on climate and energy literacy.
Renovus Solar
  • Interconnected over 100 residential systems in Central NY
  • Notable commercial clients include Ithaca Beer, Fort Locks Storage, Northeast Pediatrics, Stick and Stone Farm, Town of Danby, Datthyn Farms, and Candor Central School District
  • Built over 1 MW of community solar, began construction on another 1.2MW
Sustainable Tompkins -- Finger Lakes Climate Fund
  • The Finger Lakes Climate Fund continued its work in 2017, encouraging people to offset their carbon emissions generated by vacations, commuting, and their home, using our recently redesigned website.
  • Offsetters had the option to form teams for the 'Carbon Races.' The Mothers Out Front Corning Team took first place in our 2017 Carbon Races -- they offset more than 252,000 lbs of carbon last year.
  • Our most recent carbon offset grants went to Habitat for Humanity to help pay for the 4.7 Kw of solar panels going onto each roof of a duplex in the Northside neighborhood in Ithaca.
Taitem Engineering
  • netZero Village, a new low-rise apartment complex in Rotterdam, New York supported by NYSERDA, was monitored from construction through occupancy to gauge whether it achieved net zero energy status. It did!
  • Taitem produced a Design Toolkit for LED lighting, available here: . This was created as part of a NYSERDA-funded research project conducted with Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which demonstrated the benefits of sensor-controlled LED lighting in multifamily common spaces.
  • Ian Shapiro continued his Zero Energy Building Design training series this year. Hosted at EcoVillage, Ian focused on fundamentals and strategies for zero energy design, emphasizing different green building approaches.
Tompkins Community Action
  • Our Building Performance Institute certified energy technicians performed energy audits, efficiency upgrades and resident education to save energy for little or no money. This year, 45 households with low incomes benefited from our Weatherization Assistance Program. 
  • Fifty-seven households with low-incomes received electricity reduction measures through TCAction's Empower NY -- 21 of these households received Energy Reduction Measures and 36 received Home Performance Measures.
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
  • The LED lighting project, begun in 2016, was completed in 2017.
  • Chamber President Jennifer Tavares continued to serve on the County's Energy Task Force and the Electric Vehicle Steering Committee, and Dominick Recckio,Member Relationship Manager, is engaged with the 2030 District Partner's Group.
  • The Chamber continues to share important information with our members regarding ways to reduce their energy consumption, finance upgrades to their HVAC equipment, or construct their projects using cleaner/alternative energy supplies. 
Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency
  • The TCIDA adopted an off-site commercial solar policy, providing a property tax incentive to promote community solar projects. 
  • Six projects were approved by the TCIDA that will generate approximately 12 megawatts of solar power, enough to power 2,400 to 3,600 homes. Projects are located in the Towns of Newfield, Enfield, and Ulysses.
  • The TCIDA and the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability jointly funded a study by Taitem Engineering that made recommendations for an enhanced energy incentive offered by the IDA for significant energy efficiency and renewable energy in new building construction.  
Tompkins County Council of Governments
  • The TCCOG Sustainability Committee formed 2 working groups: 1) an energy committee, to help propagate the County's energy road map into municipalities; and 2) a Community Choice Aggregation committee to explore the possibility of municipalities procuring energy on behalf of their residents
  • The Energy Committee, under leadership of Elizabeth Thomas, supervisor, Town of Ulysses, assisted several municipalities (Ulysses, Caroline, Danby, City of Ithaca) in achieving designation as Clean Energy Communities and winning grant money as a result.    
Tompkins County
  • NYSERDA Clean Energy Community: Formally achieved CEC designation by submitting required documentation of actions.
  • DEC Climate Smart Community Certification: Formally achieved CSC certification by tracking actions Tompkins County government has taken as a smart community.
  • Business Energy Navigator: Applied to NYSERDA for funds to develop a targeted program to assist businesses in making energy improvements to their facilities.
  • Municipal Tools to Promote Deployment of Renewable Energy Systems: Worked with municipalities to develop tools to encourage widespread deployment of renewable energy systems.
  • Energy Task Force: Established an Energy Task Force to provide advice to the Planning Department and the County Legislature on energy, climate change, and energy-related economic development.
Town of Caroline
  • Caroline worked on two key sustainability actions in 2017: 1) revision of our land use local laws to enhance energy and water conservation and 2) achieving NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities designation by achieving four "high-impact action items" and qualifying for a Clean Energy Communities Program grant.
  • The first phase of our project will be to change the town's streetlights to LEDs, a process that will require us to purchase lamps and fixtures from NYSEG.
  • The second phase will be to convert the lighting in Caroline residences to LEDs with an outreach and engagement campaign. 
Town of Ithaca
  • Achieved NYS DEC Climate Smart Communities designation, the 14th NYS community to receive award 
  • Awarded $35,000 by Park Foundation for shared Sustainability Planner position (grant shared with City of Ithaca)
  • Carried out analysis of LED streetlight conversion, providing research and analysis to evaluate feasibility
  • Retrofits would annually save $40,000 and reduce GHG emissions by 50%-60%
Weaver Wind
  • We completed design work on our new 2 kW wind turbine and have begun prototype testing at our wind lab. The W2 features Active Furling (AF), our innovative wind turbine control technology that greatly improves performance and durability. 
  • AF technology is paired with grid-interactive energy storage, real-time remote monitoring and control, a tilt-over hydraulic lift tower, and optional tower-mounted solar to create a hybrid Wind + Solar + Storage system (WSS). A working demonstration system is on display at our Freeville office.
Fresh Produce and Savings Served Up by Local Program
by Margaret McAden Get Your GreenBack Tompkins Intern

Without the Healthy Food for All ( HFFA) program, Yayoi might not have been able to afford fresh, local, organic produce for their families.  " really saved me," Yayoi said. "I don't know how I'd do it without CSA and Healthy Food For All. It's just so wonderful."

Yayoi works in her garden in West Village. Photo by Maggie McAden.
HFFA is a non-profit program of   Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County in partnership with local farms that makes fresh produce accessible to low-income households via subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. Farmers initiated HFFA a decade ago to give food-insecure neighbors the opportunity to be nourished by the high-quality fruits and vegetables grown in their community.

HFFA's partnership of organic farms will provide 200 families with affordable CSA shares this season, with plans to continue growing that number each year. Participating farms include: Full Plate Farm Collective (Stick & Stone Farm, Remembrance Farm and the Youth Farm), Ithaca Organics, Kestrel Perch Berries, Nook and Cranny Farm, Plowbreak Farm, Six Circles Farm, Sweet Land Farm, TC3 Farm, Tree Gate Farm and West Haven Farm.

Community supported agriculture provides consumers with the opportunity to buy a "share" of a farm's harvest in advance, and then receive a portion of the crops as they are harvested each week throughout the season. This arrangement offers both consumers and farmers many benefits; for starters, consumers gain access to fresh, quality food for a great value, and farmers get a guaranteed income for the season. CSA shares are typically either in a boxed or free-choice format, meaning that produce is either conveniently pre-packaged for delivery or pick up, or consumers visit the farm or another location to pick out the exact types and amount of produce that they want.

The CSA season is typically 23 weeks during the summer and cost upwards of $500 for the season. Because of HFFA, income eligible households pay half (or less) of the full price, and can pay monthly using SNAP (food stamps).

Yayoi, 44, is also a single mother, and lives in West Village with her son who is a senior in high school. She has participated in HFFA for at least three years. She has a boxed share as it is most convenient for her busy schedule.

She said she has experiences with two farms, but when one took a break, she chose another that was close to her home on West Hill. She said HFFA also helps her save money in both direct and indirect ways.

"I know I save a couple of hundred dollars when I use Healthy Food for All for the season," Yayoi said.  Yayoi also said that she saves even more money through HFFA because she no longer has to buy organic produce from the grocery store-something she said can be very expensive.




Take a step to save money and energy!








One Last Thing: The Art of Creative Problem Solving

There are few problems more intractable and complicated than climate destabilization. The interaction between the myriad parts of the climate regime, the various feedback loops and the uncertainties that make it so difficult to predict what lies ahead, can seem overwhelming. 

But, as the above highlights of the latest report from members of the TCCPI coalition demonstrate, there has been a tremendous unleashing of creative energy aimed at tackling this existential threat. It is this creativity -- the seemingly unlimited capacity of humans to take on the most complex challenges -- that is the source of our greatest hope.

One of the toughest areas to address lies at the intersection of environmental stewardship and social equity, especially at a time when the degree of inequality in American society has reached levels not seen since the early twentieth century. It was a special honor, in this context, to hear about a new NYSERDA initiative at last month's TCCPI meeting to develop affordable, net-zero modular homes targeted to provide low-income families with a way to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint.

An example of an affordable net zero modular home. Photo courtesy of VEIC.

Working with the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), NYSERDA will be spending $230 million over the next three years as it rolls out this new campaign. VEIC is a thirty-year-old nonprofit based in Burlington that is the first of the public-service ESCOs in the U.S. It has, in particular, focused on ways to provide low and moderate income families with ways to increase the energy efficiency of their homes and, in the process, provide significant cost savings for these families. 

Currently , 8 million individuals live in manufactured homes in the U.S. These homes typically have twice the energy of site-built homes. Following Tropical Storm Irene, which destroyed hundreds of mobile homes in Vermont and New York in August 2011, the call went out to replace mobile homes with modular construction. 

The new net zero modular homes are equipped with solar PV systems and super efficient technology, including LED lighting, EnergyStar appliances, cold climate heat pump, heat pump water heater, and energy recovery ventilator that also monitors indoor air quality. The result is a manufactured home that not only saves the homeowner money but also reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and provides higher quality, healthier homes.

It would be hard to come up with a better example of how human ingenuity and technical prowess can combine to address in one package two of our most serious problems, climate change and inequality. With the right priorities and focus, there is little doubt that more such solutions are on their way.

Peter Bardaglio
TCCPI Coordinator


Be sure to visit the website for TCCPI's latest project, the Ithaca 2030 District, an interdisciplinary public-private collaboration working to create a groundbreaking high-performance building district in Downtown Ithaca.