Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

Issue #52: May-June 2019

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Ithaca Works with RMI on Zero-Energy Home Policies

Great Blue Heron

Welcome to the May-June 2019 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an e-update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Photo by JoZimny Photos licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 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 Common Council Approves Green New Deal Resolution
by Devon Magliozzi, Ithaca Voice

Dozens crowded into Common Council chambers on June 5 to voice their enthusiastic support for Mayor Svante Myrick's Green New Deal for Ithaca. They praised the city's commitment to meeting ambitious energy and emissions targets while asking for assurances that climate measures would advance social and economic justice.

Common Council unanimously passed a  Green New Deal resolution that sets goals for the city to be carbon neutral by 2030 with 100% of government operations using renewable electricity by 2025 and emissions from the city's vehicle fleet reduced by 50% by 2025.

Steps proposed in the resolution to achieve these goals included:
  • Create a climate action plan in 2020 to provide details on how to achieve the Ithaca Green New Deal, and update the plan every five years.  
  • Adopt a green building policy for new buildings in 2019.  
  • Adopt a green building policy for existing buildings by 2021.  
  • Assign additional staff as needed to implement the plan.   
In considering the resolution proposed by Mayor Svante Myrick, the Council amended the text 
Mayor Svante Myrick proposed the Green New Deal for Ithaca.
to "place equity at the center of carrying out the plan by establishing accountability measures to ensure that the investment, infrastructure, job creation, health, and other social and economic benefits of the Green New Deal accrue equitably to all segments and demographic groups, ensuring that those in the demographic groups who will bear the brunt of increasing climate crises (i.e., young people, low-income people, people of color, immigrants, etc.) have a meaningful and
significant voice in planning and decision-making."

More than 20 people, including several young people involved in the Sunrise Movement Ithaca, spoke during public comment to call attention to how climate change disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Several speakers also pointed to the overlap between the city's housing crisis and climate change, calling for affordable housing that would shorten workers' commutes and the codification of the  city's Green Building Policy.

By the time Wednesday's meeting began, all Common Council members had already indicated their support for the Green New Deal, which  Mayor Myrick first announced at a meeting coordinated by the Sunrise Movement Ithaca in May. Some raised questions about how the city would achieve the lofty targets. It's been several years since the city's vehicle emissions were comprehensively measured, for instance, making it difficult to assess the impact of new measures, and vehicles like construction and emergency response trucks might be difficult to replace with greener options.

Representatives agreed, though, that high aspirations would help spur the city to action and ensure that Ithaca is a leader when it comes to green government policies. They said staff would have to come up with creative technological and fiscal ideas while developing detailed plans, possibly including shared services with surrounding municipalities and state and federal grant funding. Those plans will include provisions to advance equity, they said.
Next TCCPI Meeting:
Friday, July 26, 2019
9 to 11 am
Tompkins County Public Library
Borg Warner Conference Room
101 E. Green St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Highlights from the TCCPI 2018 Member Achievements Report

The Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative has released its  report on the 2018 achievements of the coalition's members in fighting climate change and promoting the clean energy transition. Forty local member organizations submitted documentation of the work they carried out in 2018, a record number. The full report is available here. Highlights include the following: 

Alternatives Federal Credit Union
  • In 2018 we made 207 solar loans for a total of $2,733,644.
  • Our rooftop solar panels generated 13% or 22,452 kwH of our electricity during the year.
  • We began jointly marketing with Renovus Solar in 2018 to further our work together for the good of the environment and local economy by expanding renewable energy.
Cayuga Medical Center
  • LED Retrofit Site Lighting project completed at the Main Hospital Campus and also at the Ithaca East Campus site on 10 Arrowwood Drive.
  • Review of Surgical Services HVAC System for Energy Efficiency completed. Future consideration to modify existing equipment to obtain energy savings.
  • CMC was a recipient of a 2018 NYSERDA Flex Tech study that was completed in December 2018. The first step in 2019 will be retrofitting the interior lighting at Cayuga Medical Center to LED. This upgrade is estimated to save approximately 613,000 kWh annually after completion.
Center for Community Transportation
  • 489 new Ithaca Carshare members reported that they would sell or avoid/delay the purchase of 144 vehicles.
  • 1,325 members took a combined 17,161 trips totaling 211,845.
  • Fleetwide fuel economy was 33 mpg, 29% above the 2017 national average of 25.2 mpg.
  • Facilitated the introduction of bikeshare, making Ithaca the 1st city in NYS to host a dockless bikeshare -- over 77,000 rides were taken in Tompkins County in 2018.
  • With the support of TCAT and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, CCT piloted the first guaranteed ride home service offered to the Ithaca community beyond Cornell University.
City of Ithaca
  • Secured $120,000 in grant funding, including $100,000 grant for City under NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities program for LED streetlight conversion.
  • Achieved Climate Smart Communities Certification from NYS DEC.
  • Completed Green Building Policy report and began drafting code language.
  • Supported LED streetlight conversion -- worked with NYSERDA to secure grant funding.
  • Updated Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program -- a cted as project manager for update to PACE 2.0, which enables broader participation.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County
  • Coordinated the Clean Energy Communities program for the Southern Tier, working with municipal officials to save energy in their facilities and communities through targeted steps  
  • Led a series of community shared solar campaigns in late 2017 into early 2018. These produced a total of nearly 400 leads, resulting in 153 signed contracts for a total of nearly 1MW capacity. 
  • CCETC and Cornell University partnered with NYSEG on the Energy Smart Community program to develop and test the technologies, educational approaches, and customer options that lead to greater adoption of cleaner and distributed energy sources; improved grid reliability, resilience and safety; and reduction of overall energy use.
  • CCETC was the recipient, along with Cornell University, of the EPA Green Power Partner & Center for Natural Resource Solutions' Award in the category of Leadership in Green Power Education.
Cornell University
  • Played a key role in convening over 20 State University of New York (SUNY) and private New York State higher education institutions to form a consortium for developing and purchasing new, large-scale renewable energy projects. 
  • Selected as the 2018 Leadership in Green Power Education award winner. 
  • The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education gave Cornell a gold rating, and recognized Cornell in the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index, as first in New York State for Diversity & Affordability and second in the U.S. for Sustainability Coordination & Planning. This year's rating makes Cornell the longest running institution to have maintained a Gold status. 
  • Recognized by the Second Nature Carbon Commitment for a second year in a row with three  Marks of Distinction for excellence in carbon mitigation and sustainability education. 
Downtown Ithaca Alliance
  • The DIA, in collaboration with Ithaca Carshare and Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT), is currently operating a pilot Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program aimed at helping downtown employees and residents forgo their single occupancy vehicles and instead use alternative modes of transportation.
  • During 2018, the City of Ithaca, with the support of the DIA, relocated the intercity bus depot to downtown. The new location actually allows bus riders to easily move from TCAT to intercity buses, reducing vehicle trips.
  • The City Centre project, currently under construction, includes many green features such as energy efficient windows and lighting, heat pumps, and classic sustainable appliances like low-flow toilets.
  • Press Bay Alley, two blocks southwest of the Ithaca Commons, serves as a pickup spot for the Full Plate Farm Collective CSA each Thursday. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a cooperative relationship between a farmer and consumers; consumers commit to buying a crop "share" and growers commit to growing that amount of produce.
Finger Lakes Land Trust
  • Completed four land protection projects within the county during 2018 and also received a $900,000 grant from New York State to acquire conservation easements on land bordering tributaries to the southern end of Cayuga Lake. 
  • Provided a variety of field trips and educational programs to the public at no charge and enhanced its management of 40 public conservation areas throughout the region. 
  • Within Tompkins County, four properties were secured last year, including 138 acres of upland forest located in the towns of Dryden and Caroline. Protection of these lands will help ensure the quality of Ithaca's drinking water supply.
Finger Lakes ReUse
  • Diverted an estimated 480 tons of materials through our two community ReUse Centers, including furniture, building materials, housewares, electronics, books, textiles.
  • Created 7 new living wage jobs, increasing our staff to 33 people, or 27.7 full-time equivalents.
  • Worked with 25 local human service agencies through our ReUse Materials Access Program, supported by contributions to the ReUse Community Fund, providing materials for over 160 households in need.
  • Trained 18 people through our ReSET (ReUse Skills and Employment Training) program in 2018, including our first ReSET Re-entry pilot participant, and 6 graduates reported successful employment post-program.
  • Worked alongside 127 individual volunteers, with over 17,000 hours of volunteer labor logged total. This is roughly equivalent to 6.7 fulltime staff members helping advance our mission to enhance community, economy, and environment through reuse.
Get Your GreenBack
  • Get Your GreenBack's personalized system of energy advising -- which includes a cadre of volunteer Energy Navigators who do outreach and follow up with interested individuals --had a successful third year.
  • We trained 13 new Energy Navigators who, together with a few other active Navigators from previous years, reached 1,240 people and provided support to approximately 100 local residents, most of whom are from low- or moderate-income households.
  • NYSEG provided support this year to the Energy Navigator program, enabling us to offer stipends to some Navigators (most of whom are low-income) and purchase equipment for more effective training and outreach (e.g. an infrared camera, watt-meters, and tablets), as well as materials Navigators can give to residents for direct installs (such as LED light bulbs and plastic coverings for windows).
  • Our expanded work in the Southern Tier through the NYSERDA Community Energy Engagement Program grant has led us to create a new website and materials under the "Smart Energy Choices" brand, while we continue to use GYGB materials for the Tompkins County area.
HeatSmart Tompkins, a program of Solar Tompkins
  • HeatSmart is now finished with its third public campaign and revving up to start its fourth in May 2019.
  • Public Outreach has again reached every town in Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca. Public meetings were held in each municipality and some surrounding areas of adjacent counties such as Spencer-Van Etten, Owego, and Lodi. 
  • HeatSmart Tompkins made a major transition this past year. Our last grant from the Park Foundation ended in September 2018. We began our new funding in October through NYSERDA's Clean Heating and Cooling Communities (CHCC) program. 
  • To increase the awareness of heat pump opportunities, HeatSmart Tompkins created the HeatSmart Outstanding Earth Stewardship Award to recognize commercial entities that are taking major steps towards maintaining near zero carbon emissions buildings. The first award went to Purity Ice Cream, which heats its entire building with geothermal heat pumps and powers them with solar energy. 
HOLT Architects
  • HOLT continued to investigate methodologies for better understanding the energy needs of its 619 West State Street offices as well as actions for lowering overall energy use. 
  • HOLT volunteered for "Internet of Things" real-time metering, a program administered by the Cornell Cooperative Extension and several oddities in HOLT's energy consumption were immediately detected. These are presently being investigated, along with additional sensors being installed.
  • Graham Gillespie, President of HOLT Architects, served on the TCAD and Tompkins County Energy and Economic Development Task Force.
Ithaca College
  • Transitioned 100% of electricity to Green-e Certified energy, resulting in a complete elimination of our Scope 2 emissions.
  • Installed additional building-level water and electricity sub-meters to identify usage patterns.
  • Completed an energy audit in the A&E Center with assistance from GreenerU. Energy conservation recommendations are under consideration.
  • Climate Action Plan Reassessment Team developed an energy road map to help guide the college for the next ten years and supports an expedited carbon neutrality date.
  • Sponsored and developed programming for "The Quest for a Sustainable Future" themed kickoff event, part of the Integrated Core Curriculum, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  • Launched Cupanion's "Fill It Forward" campaign, a nation-wide program focused on eliminating single-use plastics. App data shows this has resulted in approximately 7,000 fewer plastic water bottles at IC during the first year.
Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council
  • Tompkins County and the ITCTC worked with Energetics, Inc. to coordinate local participation in a NYSERDA project that identifies Tompkins County as an EV Deployment Community. 
  • During 2018 there was substantial community outreach and education to promote EV use in Tompkins County. Energetics tabled and participated in numerous community events, and EV showcases were held at various locations. Also engaged with car dealerships to make sure they have a sufficient supply of vehicles for EV purchases.
  • 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 system hopes to expand to a regional rideshare program powered online by Zimride. 
  • Held a three-day restoration agriculture workshop with Mark Shepard. The workshop concluded with the planting of thousands of trees, including chestnuts, hazelnuts, and butternuts.
  • We rolled out a new Eco-Gap 8-week program that gives young adults, ages 17-20, practical tools for transforming the world and provides them with the opportunity to become part of daily life at EcoVillage Ithaca. Undertook planning for 2019's EcoGap Spring/Summer Internship program and Fall Immersion Program (see
  • Ian Shapiro, founder of Taitem Engineering, and Liz Walker offered a three-hour workshop in April and May to decision-makers from Tompkins County municipalities, helping to train them in the latest green building information, so they can make sure developers and builders are using the most energy-saving methods.
  • Terry Moore (CEO of MCCI) and Bob Shenk (NYC Passive House) conducted studies of three TREE homes to monitor heat, humidity and energy performance of PH certified homes, and compare them with three conventionally built homes in Ithaca.
Local First Ithaca
  • Produced our 8th Annual Guide to Being Local.
  • Continued our work with the Ithaca 2030 District and Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative Steering Committees.
  • Sponsored "Plaid Friday" and "Small Business Saturday" in November to encourage community members to shop locally during the holiday season and experience what experience what our home grown, independent businesses have to offer.
  • Attended the 5th Annual NY Sustainable Business Summit in April, which was held in Albany - lobbied state legislators on policy issues related to sustainability.
New Roots Charter School
  • After piloting sustainable indigenous practices shared by leaders of our Haudenosaunee neighbors, New Roots was recently awarded a $38,745 grant from the New York State DEC to expand our Cayuga Wetlands Project, designed to restore a wetland on the south end of Cayuga Lake by planting and maintaining wetland plant species.
  • The Green Schools National Network and the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recognized New Roots as a winner of Transformation in the "Best of Green Schools" Class of 2019. The transformation award recognizes "investments of time, energy and resources to transform a school, school community, event or policy into an exemplary model for the green schools movement."
  • The Green Schools National Network recognizes New Roots as a national leader in the field of education for sustainability. New Roots and nine other leading schools are inaugural members of the Catalyst Leaders Network, which prepares each school to become professional development hubs for other schools in 2020.
Paleontological Research Institution, Museum of the Earth, and Cayuga Nature Center
  • We entered the second year of our crowdfunding campaign to raise money to send The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change to teachers across country. The campaign is online at We ended 2018 having raised $124,564, which will allow us to send the book to more than 50,000 teachers. To date we have sent books to science teachers in every public high school in 14 states, and to some teachers in 30 other states. Our new fundraising goal to reach $200,000.
  • We are curating the New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse and Resilient MA: Climate Change Clearinghouse for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These sites are intended to help New York and Massachusetts local governments, businesses, and residents find reliable climate data and maps, decision-support tools, documents, and other resources to help adapt to climate change.
  • We continue to develop and run climate change education programs for children, teens, and adults at the Cayuga Nature Center and the Museum of the Earth.
Park Foundation
  • The Environment Program made 37 grants that had a climate and energy focus totaling $1,577,000.
  • The Sustainable Ithaca Ithacan Program made $178,000 in climate-related grants in 2018.
  • The Foundation filed five shareholder resolutions seeking reports on fugitive methane emissions and carbon asset risk from ExxonMobil, Chevron, Dominion, Anadarko, and Entergy.
Renovus Solar
  • Constructed and/or interconnected a record five solar farms in 2018.
  • Built, filled, and interconnected the first-ever community owned solar farm in National Grid territory, marking a focused expansion into the CNY market.
  • Expanded commercial community solar operations, signing up a record number of businesses for off-site solar installations.
  • Launched the "Solar Guide Series," a comprehensive set of eBooks and digital content aimed at educating consumers about how to best utilize and access solar power. The Guide Series eBooks, launched in March, have been downloaded more than 3500 times since their creation.
  • Formalized a referral marketing partnership with Alternatives Federal Credit Union and Alternatives Impact where Renovus will donate $500 towards Alternatives Impact for every referral project signed and financed.
  • Ended the year with a development pipeline containing more than 6.5MW of community solar projects for construction within the next two years.
Snug Planet
  • In 2018, Snug Planet increased our volume of energy efficiency and electrification work by about 30% relative to 2017, performing over 200 home energy assessment and 80 retrofits.
  • In order to scale up our operations, we added a full-time HVAC crew, a third full-time building analyst, and a full-time office manager.
  • We also expanded our service area to include several major population centers, including Elmira, Corning, and Syracuse.
  • In addition, Snug Planet increased free and reduced cost offerings for income-qualified customers through the EmPower New York and Assisted Home Performance programs.
Sustainable Tompkins
  • We reached several milestones in 2018 with our Finger Lakes Climate Fund. Carbon offsets and donations totaled $13,204 from 104 gifts, and we passed the six million pounds of CO2 offset mark in December. We gave away more grants this year than ever before: 8 grants totaling $11,373 were given to families in Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, and Tompkins Counties that collectively offset 495 tons of CO2 emissions. 
  • We also developed a new partnership for 2019 with HeatSmart Tompkins to combine new incentives for heat pumps with carbon offset grants to reach more rural low-income families with high propane or fuel oil bills.
  • We launched the Youth Climate Challenge in 2018 thanks to a starter gift of $5,000 by local pediatrician Tim Harris. We developed the program as a combination of climate change guest lectures and opportunity to apply for grants up to $1,000 for student projects related to climate change. 
  • One of the grants awarded, "Keep It Cool Tompkins," is educating the local business community about the upcoming switch to more climate-friendly refrigerants. It is the first time any of us in the local climate movement considered the issue of refrigerants as part of the local energy road map.
Taitem Engineering
  • With STREAM Collaborative and city and town employees, the Ithaca Green Building Policy was finalized and adopted. It will be fully implemented in 2019.
  • Taitem has been working with Tompkins County providing technical assistance to commercial and multifamily new construction and renovation projects through the Business Energy Advisors (BEA) program. Projects such as Greenstar's new store, Vecino's ArtHaus, and Emmy's Organics have benefited from energy efficiency recommendations.
  • The Southern Tier Clean Energy Communities coordinators of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County engaged Taitem to provide municipal energy audit services in a unique and efficient operational model. After training by Taitem, the CEC coordinators in the field now complete building walkthroughs, collect data, and deliver it to energy analysts at Taitem who interpret and develop recommendations. Taitem's report is delivered by a CEC coordinator who can then assist municipalities in developing energy reduction implementation plans and finding funding.
  • Taitem's Energy + Sustainability and Quality Assurance departments continue to provide a broad range of services under statewide contracts with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). 
Tompkins Community Action
  • Completed 35 energy efficiency upgrades to housing units with income eligible households under the Weatherization Assistance Program.
  • Provided 29 free energy audits /electric reduction/energy efficiency upgrades to households with low incomes as a designated NYSERDA EmPower NY Contractor.
  • Provided 35 emergency cooling services under the Department of Social Services Emergency Cooling Program.
  • Provided 31 emergency heating services under the Department of Social Services Emergency Heating Program.
  • Facilitated radio spots and news articles in support of National Weatherization Day 2018.
  • Participated in diverse local forums, presentations and conferences to inform the Tompkins County community  about the benefits of weatherization (for housing units, families and the environment).
  • Participated in diverse community-wide agencies and their standing committees to address issues associated with climate protection.
Tompkins County
  • NYSERDA Clean Energy Community - Executed contract for grant award to fund the Business Energy Advisors Program staff person and EV purchases and green fleet analysis for County fleet.
  • DEC Climate Smart Community Certification - Became the fourth community in New York to achieve Climate Smart Community Silver Level, the highest level currently available. 
  • Business Energy Advisors Program - Hired staff person and launched program to assist businesses/organizations in making energy decisions for new construction, renovations, and expansion projects.
  • Energy Task Force - In its second year, the Energy Task Force continued to provide advice to the Department of Planning and Sustainability and the County Legislature on energy, climate change, and energy-related economic development, and provided feedback on Energy Strategy development.
  • Resiliency and Disaster Recovery Plan - Received an award notification from the NYS Department of State for funds to develop a plan to prepare the community to take the actions necessary, including those that build economic resilience, to bounce back from a disaster should it occur. This plan will also incorporate a FEMA-sponsored update of the Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Energize NY Finance - The County Legislature adopted PACE 2.0 legislation that expands the usefulness of the program to help commercial properties make energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to buildings by offering access to low-cost, long-term financing.
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
  • Chamber President Jennifer Tavares continued to serve on the County's Energy Task Force and Electric Vehicle Steering Committee, and Dominick Recckio, Director of Strategic Communications & Partnerships, is engaged with the Ithaca 2030 District Partners.
  • The 2018 building performance report from the Ithaca 2030 District, which tracks energy and water consumption, showed that the Chamber's office has already met the 2020 energy and water use targets.
  • 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. We are a member of Chambers for Innovation & Clean Energy (CICE).
  • The Chamber has advised, promoted, and made referrals to the Business Energy Advisors Program, a collaboration of the Tompkins County Planning Department and Tompkins County Area Development.
Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency
  • The TCIDA continues to lead the state in promoting off-site community solar development. In just two years, 12 projects have been approved that will generate approximately 48 megawatts of solar power, enough to power nearly a quarter of the homes in Tompkins County. These projects represent over $94 million in private investment and will pay over $9 million in property taxes over 20 years.
  • The IDA also works directly with applicants to improve energy usage and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, providing enhanced incentives to encourage applicants to reduce their overall project carbon emissions footprint. In 2018, the IDA delivered an incentive package valued at $600,000 for the construction of a three story, 16-unit live, work housing project at 323 Taughannock Boulevard on the Cayuga Inlet. The project received an enhanced incentive based on the highly efficient and energy saving measures incorporated in the construction.
  • The Business Energy Advisors Program was a recommendation of the Energy and Economic Development Task Force. TCAD, in part, funds the program and assisted with program design and implementation. The BEA program was launched to assist developers in assessing renewable energy and energy improvements for commercial and industrial buildings.
Tompkins County Council of Governments
  • TCCOG, with Liz Thomas as Chair of the Energy Task Force, worked to promote information sharing among municipalities and CCE to explore options for converting streetlights to LEDs. The City of Ithaca, led by Mike Thorne, was especially helpful as the lead in reaching out to LightSmart Energy Consultants for information and exploring negotiation on SL Purchase Pricing with NYSEG.
  • George Woodbury of LightSmart Energy Consultants gave a presentation for us at the Borg-Warner Room of the library, Casey Maestro of NYPA attended a TCCOG meeting to discuss the New York Power Authority program for SL conversion, and Terry Carroll of CCE provided updates and information to TCCOG.
  • It was year of patient and productive work. We now have better information and guidance that will facilitate Tompkins County municipalities moving forward with LED SL conversion in 2019 to achieve this Shared Services goal.
Tompkins County Environmental Management Council
  • The Climate Adaptation Committee performed a case study of flood professionals actively engaged in flood risk mitigation within Tompkins County, NY, a community dealing with moderate flooding, to gauge how much variance exists among professional perceptions of local flooding risk. Results of this case study indicated disagreement among flooding professionals as to which socio-economic losses constitute a flood, disagreement on anticipated community needs, and some disagreement on community perceptions on climate adaptation.
  • Provided public hearing testimony in support of NYSDEC's proposal to strengthen the CO2 Emissions Performance Standards regulations
  • Voted to approve Resolution 01-2018 to Support a Statewide Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags and voted to recommend that the Tompkins County Legislature pass a similar resolution.
  • Held a community discussion on "Preserving Our Unique Natural Areas in a Changing Climate."
Town of Caroline
  • Completed the revision of Subdivision and Site Plan Review Laws in 2018. The new local laws highlight New York State (SEQRA) and Tompkins County's 239 Review Guidelines, especially regarding the new 239 Addendum focused on minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. We also clarified the review process for developers.
  • Received a $100,000 Clean Energy Communities grant for its project, "Brighten-up Caroline." One part of this initiative will convert the town's streetlights from sodium-vapor lights to LEDs, reducing energy consumption by about 75% and save taxpayer dollars. 
  • Received a grant from the New York State Office of Court Administration for heat pumps at the Historic Town Hall/Caroline Court. We have decided that geothermal heating and cooling would be a good solution for the building and will be installing that in 2019.
  • Received a grant from Tompkins County Soil & Water Conservation District to design and implement a bioretention feature at the town hall grounds to treat stormwater runoff from the main parking lot. The engineering plans have been completed and the bioretention feature, as well as parking improvements for TCAT Park-N-Ride parking, will be completed in 2019.
Town of Dryden
  • The Town has approved the development of over 30 MW of community solar and worked closely with developers to ensure that the environmental and visual impacts were minimized. The Town succeeded in negotiating a special electricity rate for town residents, 10% below market rates, to encourage participation. The Town also negotiated favorable PILOT terms for the new solar farms (estimated value: $50 million) that will reduce the burden of property taxes for town residents over the next 20 years.
  • The Town has encouraged new commercial housing developments to avoid natural gas use. The last four multi-unit projects approved by the town -- one currently occupied, two under construction, and one soon to break ground -- will operate "gas free". These developments include nearly 100 housing units. A proposed 200 unit/550 bed project currently under review will be "gas free," if approved by the town.
  • Dryden was recently recognized as Clean Energy Community with a $5,000 grant from NYSERDA.
Town of Ithaca
  • Achieved Clean Energy Communities designation from NYSERDA.
  • Secured a $50,000 grant for Town under NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities program that will be used for purchasing an electric vehicle and charger for Town fleet and for achieving Green Building Policy standard with the Public Works office addition.
  • Awarded $20,000 of NYSERDA funding via Energetics, Inc., for incorporating electric vehicles into Town and City of Ithaca fleets.
  • Worked with joint Town/City steering committee, consultants, and community advisory committee to draft GBP report and code language.
  • Town and City unanimously approved the Green Building Policy report, which provides recommendations for requirements and incentives to substantially reduce carbon emissions in all new buildings, while emphasizing and supporting affordability.
Town of Ulysses
  • Named a certified bronze Climate Smart Community for its efforts.
  • Continue to provide free electricity for its electric vehicle charging station at the Town Hall.
  • The Town is in the midst of the design phase to install heat pumps in Town Hall in order to reduce use of natural gas (part of a Clean Energy Communities grant).
  • The Town Hall lights will be converted to LED bulbs (part of a Clean Energy Communities grant).
  • Purchased a hybrid vehicle for the Code Enforcement Officers.
  • The Town Supervisor led a county-wide effort to convert streetlights to low power LED bulbs.
Weaver Wind
  • Commissioned and successfully field-tested the first wind + solar + storage hybrid system--the WE2--at its Van Etten wind lab.
  • Installed a demonstration WE2 system at our main office in Freeville.
  • Company president Art Weaver gave presentations to Cornell's Engineers for a Sustainable World and the Wind Farm Community Research Program.
Beginning of a Bike Boom in Tompkins County?
by Sarah Huang, Communications Intern,
 Get Your GreenBack Tompkins

Ithaca's hills and cold, rainy weather are the reason commonly invoked to explain why more people don't use bicycles for transportation. But if the weather isn't improving and the hills aren't going anywhere, why has Tompkins County seen the number of people riding bikes increase significantly in the last decade?

According to census numbers, people in Tompkins County commuting to work and school by bike has almost doubled from 0.9% or a little over 400 people to 1.6% or almost 800 people from 2000 to 2017. In the City of Ithaca, the numbers are higher with approximately 2.6% of the commuting trips being taken by bicycle. Furthermore, according to a recent Bike Walk Tompkins survey, at least one-half of all residents in Ithaca bike for recreational use. 

In a separate report by Bike Walk Tompkins, in 2018, the Lime bike sharing service logged over 75,000 trips in Tompkins County. Not too shabby for a county population just over 100,000.
Photo courtesy of GYGB.
These trends can be seen nationally as well. According to the National Household Travel Survey, the  number of trips made by bicycle in the US more than doubled between 2001 and 2009 , from 1.7 billion to 4 billion.

There are a number of factors contributing to these trends. Three major local factors include enhanced infrastructure for bicycling, an increased awareness of the benefits of bicycling, and the development of a bike culture in the local community.

Biking infrastructure

Over the past decade, we've seen increases in bike infrastructure in Tompkins County: bike lanes, multi-use trails such as Black Diamond, the completion of the Waterfront Trail, and significant increases in bike racks, including the beautiful custom-made ones downtown. One of the most significant developments was the implementation of a network of bike boulevards in the flat areas of Ithaca.

According to Victoria Armstrong, director of cycling and walking advocacy group Bike Walk Tompkins, bike boulevards are "not bike lanes, but instead places where everyone on that road travels the speed of a cyclist, so they feel very safe."

"It's a streetscape that feels like you want to go really slow," Vikki said. "In its ideal form, even if there are cars, you can trust that everyone is moving at a slow speed, and you can trust that kids are safe on these roads."

In Ithaca, the suggestion to implement bike boulevards was first made in 2011, and in 2014, the city started putting in elements of the bike boulevard, choosing signage and putting in speed bumps. By 2015, the bike boulevard network was launched.

Cycling through biking benefits

Bike use has also increased due to the fact that people also recognize the many benefits of biking, including money savings and convenience.

"The trend of buying a car has decreased with this millennial generation," Vikki said. ""It's too expensive."  Between fuel, insurance, and the cost of the car itself, the first year of owning a car, on average, adds up to $8,849 per year, according to AAA.

In Ithaca, buying a car might not make sense - you can go anywhere within two miles on a bike in the same time it would take to drive the same distance. Biking is often simpler, easier, and comes without the hassle of finding street parking. In addition, t here is zero pollution associated with bike usage, where as a typical passenger vehicle emits about one pound of carbon dioxide per mile or about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year .

The development of biking culture

The growth of a local bike culture has also contributed to a rise in bike use.  Through events such as Streets Alive! and its corresponding film festival, organizations such as Bike Walk Tompkins are able to engage the general community with positive, fun activities that validate and encourage active transportation options like walking and biking.

Bike Walk Tompkins has been reaching diverse audiences through their innovative Bike Champions program, with peer educators who sponsor fun, educational events throughout the community, and has also been working with partners in local schools.

Recycle Ithaca's Bicycles continues to offer free bike repair and repair education, while the Finger Lakes Cycling Club continues to sponsor rides for people with different skill and comfort levels.  Bike Walk Tompkins has helped to make biking more accessible through the Lime Access program, which provides discounts on Lime Bike trips for people with limited income.

Vikki said it is important to take into consideration the diversity of people's backgrounds when thinking about biking resources and infrastructure.  "For some people, they choose biking because it's the only mode of transportation that people can afford," she said. "And we want people like that to have access to have good quality bikes and places to do their bikes and all of those things."




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One Last Thing: An Inflection Point in the Climate Fight?

The weather in Tompkins County has been beautiful this June. Spring got off to a slow start in April, with one rainy, gray day following another and temperatures at night dipping into the 30s even at the end of May. But then June arrived and with it so did the warmer and sunnier days. Gardens are exploding with new growth, the fields and roadside ditches are full of wild flowers and the landscape is green and lush.

We have every reason to be grateful. But in much of the world the climate emergency continues unabated. Just a few of the noteworthy items in the news recently:
  • Record-shattering heat assailed Europe this past week, with temperatures hitting well above 100 degrees F in France, Germany, Poland, and Spain. In fact, Europe's five hottest summers in the past 500 years have all occurred in the last 15 years.
  • The wave of scorching weather has been even worse in India, where hundreds of villages have been abandoned because of acute water shortages and crop failures. The temperature in the city of Churu, hit 123 degrees, "making it the hottest place on the planet," according to the Guardian. Several of India's biggest cities are on the verge of running out of water.
  • In the Canadian Arctic permafrost is thawing 70 years sooner than scientists predicted. "What we saw was amazing," Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks said. "It's an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years."
  • A new United Nations report warned of "climate apartheid," asserting that human rights, democracy, and the rule of law were all increasingly at risk. The report observed that developing countries will bear 75% of climate crisis costs, despite the poorest half of the world's population causing just 10% of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • In the face of this mounting evidence of runaway climate change, the U.S. refused to join nineteen other nations this week at the G20 Summit in Japan in a reaffirmation of their commitment to implementing the Paris Treaty. The U.S. objected on the grounds that doing so would hurt American workers and taxpayers.
As the above highlights from the 2018 achievements of TCCPI coalition members show, our community has pursued a wide range of activities to tackle the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The unanimous approval by the City Common Council of Mayor Myrick's Green New Deal for Ithaca is another dramatic indication of the local commitment to battle the climate crisis, marking a potential inflection point. But clearly there is much work to be done and, as the onrush of global developments starkly reminds us, there is little time to waste. If we are to bend the curve of history in the right direction and avoid catastrophe, we must redouble our efforts and push onward, refusing to rest on our laurels.
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.