Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

November-December 2018

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Welcome to the November-December 2018 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an e-update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Photo by NASA Johnson 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. 
EV Tompkins Wraps Up Successful 2018 Campaign
by Bryan Roy, EVTompkins Consultant

As 2018 comes to a close, EVTompkins is working to wrap-up our activities and pass the torch on to project partners, stakeholders, and community members that have shown the project so much support. This project has always been a community driven initiative, so we are looking forward to see how much further Tompkins County will push this exciting movement forward. 

Photo courtesy of EVTompkins.
EVTompkins has spent the last year working to accelerate the adoption of EVs. To achieve our goals, the program has been working with our partners, stakeholders, and community members to support this transition. Before the EVTompkins initiative, there were 310 registered electric vehicles (January 2018) and 29 public charging ports (includes level 1, level 2, and DC fast charging) in Tompkins County. Through outreach, education, and engagement efforts, EVTompkins is happy to see that registration continued to increase, and there are more charging ports installed than before.

To help increase registration rates, EVTompkins spent the summer and fall attending the many festivals and events that Tompkins County hosts. These events were a great way to meet many of the community members that help to drive our program goals forward. We loved chatting with so many interested people about EV technology and the many opportunities for Tompkins County residents to adopt this technology.

EVTompkins also worked with local stakeholders to spread the adoption of EVs. We worked with local municipalities, workplaces, and fleet owners to identify pathways for each to promote EVs in a variety of ways; whether it was identifying the correct electric vehicle to be purchased for a fleet, supporting the installation of a charging station, or educating members of your local jurisdiction on the policy surrounding EV technology, EVTompkins was working hard this year to bring everyone to the table. EVTompkins also facilitated targeted events around the county to reach even more members or the community.

Through EVTompkins efforts and support from the program sponsor, NYSERDA, the initiative was also able to facilitate the installation of 11 EV charging stations around the county. Beyond those directly supported through the program funding and support, there were seven more stations installed around the county. EVTompkins is excited to highlight that there are now 434 registered vehicles (November 2018), and 32 charging station locations. EVTompkins is also happy to note that in Tompkins County there are six EVs being purchased for local fleets.

While EVTompkins activity will be coming to close in December, the program efforts will continue on with the help of the many project partners. Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Tompkins County, the City and Town of Ithaca, Ithaca Tompkins County Transportation Council, and many more have shown great support throughout the year and intend to continue to support the EV market and the county's transition to an electrified transportation system.
Next TCCPI Meeting:
Friday, January 25, 2019
9 to 11 am
Tompkins County Public Library
Borg Warner Conference Room
101 E. Green St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
County Offers Free Energy Consulting for Construction Projects
by Andrea Aguirre, Senior Planner-Energy Specialist, 
Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability

Tompkins County recently rolled out a new program that offers business owners and facility managers up to $3,000 in energy consulting services, helping to improve energy efficiency in new construction and major renovations.

The  Business Energy Advisors  (BEA) program assists business owners and facility managers in setting energy goals and understanding energy options during the earliest stages of project design and conceptualization, when it is the easiest and most cost-effective to incorporate energy efficiency improvements.

WHY participate in this program? What's in it for me? 
Receive advice from energy experts -- u p to $1,500 in energy consulting for buildings 10,000 sq. ft. or less and up to $3,000 in energy consulting for buildings greater than 10,000 sq. ft. 
* Understand options to save energy and operational costs 
* Obtain advice on incentives, financing, and application processes 
* Receive assistance with setting and reaching your energy goals 
* Gain recognition for your participation and commitment, if desired 
* Contribute to the environmental and energy goals of our community

WHO can participate in this program? 
Businesses considering new construction, major renovation, or expansion 
* Eligible sectors: commercial, retail, multifamily (5+ units), manufacturing, R&D, non-profit, government 
* Building must be located in Tompkins County

HOW can I participate? What does this program require of me? 
* Participate in an energy charrette (brainstorming meeting) 
* Set practical and aspirational energy goals for the project 
* Identify a staff person as an energy manager or champion for the building 
* Participate in a program close-out meeting 
* Share building energy consumption data for a year after project completion

For more information, contact Andrea Aguirre, Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability.

Email: gaguirre@tompkins-co.org 
Phone: (607) 274-5560
Heating Smart and Staying Warm This Winter
by Anne Rhodes, Energy Team,
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County

Uh Oh.  Here comes winter. The season that challenges us to heat our homes without hurting our planet or our wallets. Everyone wants to stay warm and comfortable in their home; luckily, there are lots of planet-friendly and cost effective strategies and solutions to help us do just that.
What's preventing us from being warm in our homes? If a house is cold and drafty it is because heat is escaping through uninsulated walls and attic, and through holes and gaps that let air in.

So what's the solution? Insulation and air-sealing are two steps that keep the warm air inside your home. The cavities in the walls and in the attic can be fully insulated and there are a number of options you can use to improve the insulation on an existing home. Effective air-sealing of a home is a little like a detective adventure. Starting from the bottom of your house and working your way up, you can locate all the little cracks, gaps and holes-around window frames, places where water or fuel pipes go to the outside, and gaps around doors that are letting air flow in and out.  All of these can be filled with something that will block the air flow, like caulk or spray foam.

The best, and free, option for reducing conduction and convection of heat away from your home is to schedule a whole-house energy assessment, which is paid for by NYSERDA, and is performed by a trained contractor. The auditor checks all areas of the home for insufficient insulation and air leaks and provides a detailed report outlining what actions could be done and the approximate cost. Having an energy assessment qualifies you for incentives, rebates, and low-interest loans that can be applied to your energy efficiency improvements. State and federal incentives can help cover 50%-100% of the work that you decide to do for income-eligible households.

Once you have made your home more energy efficient, it's time to look at your heating system. Most homes in urban areas throughout the Southern Tier are heated with natural gas. Homes in rural areas beyond the reach of gas lines are heated by other fossil fuels, including heating oil, propane, or coal, or by electricity, wood, or wood pellets. Whatever your fuel source, it is important to check the system annually to maintain efficiency and find and fix problems. In forced-air systems, the metal ducts that move air though the house should be checked for leaks and places where the duct sections are not fitted tightly together, and filters should be checked and replaced regularly. Wood stove chimneys should be cleaned at least annually to prevent creosote build-up which is a fire hazard.

If it is time to replace your system, you will want to think about choosing a new system that meets all your needs and does the least damage to your bank account and our planet. Heat pumps are a great option, providing both heating and cooling. They run on electricity, which can be supplied by renewables, use the same technology as your refrigerator, and are super-efficient. Or you may consider heating with wood or wood pellets, two local renewable resources. There are significant state and federal incentives to help residents and businesses switch to these renewable heating systems.

So with the winter months approaching the main thing to do to prepare is to tighten up your house for energy efficiency. You will be more comfortable, save money on fuel, and join your fellow residents in reducing our impact on the climate. Contact us and we can help you access an energy assessment and learn about programs and incentives that meet your needs.


  

 

 

Take a step to save money and energy!

 

 

 

 

Visit getyourgreenbacktompkins.org

  

 

One Last Thing: COP24, Wishful Thinking, and the U.S.

When the UN climate talks at COP24 opened in Katowice, Poland earlier this month, there was good reason to be concerned about the outcome. After much infighting, however, delegates at the last minute settled on most of the rules for putting the 2015 Paris agreement into practice. The agreement outlined how countries will provide information about their climate actions, including mitigation and adaptation measures, as well as steps to provide financial support for climate action in developing countries.

"The guidelines will promote trust among nations that all countries are playing their part in addressing the challenge of climate change," declared the official UN statement issued at the conclusion of the gathering. One could be forgiven, however, for believing this press release reflected wishful thinking more than actual reality.

COP 24 opening plenary. Photo by UNclimatechange licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
The pact, for example, called on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020. But the key question of how countries will bolster their targets on cutting emissions was largely overlooked

Current targets, agreed to in the wake of the Paris climate talks in 2015, put the world on course for 3C of warming from pre-industrial levels, which scientists say would be disastrous, resulting in droughts, floods, rising sea levels, and a sharp reduction in agricultural productivity.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of COP24 was the obstructionist role played by the US. While the country provided important leadership in securing the Paris climate agreement, it proved to be far less constructive in Katowice.  Throughout the negotiations the US delegation sought to water down language. Siding with the oil and gas nations of Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, it blocked the conference from "welcoming" the IPCC  report on the impacts of a temperature rise of 1.5C

Just as infuriating, the US held an event at the conference promoting the continued use of coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.  In contrast, the European Union and several other developed countries joined with dozens of developing nations in declaring they would focus on preventing a 1.5C rise in their carbon-cutting efforts.

At this point in the climate crisis, it should be clear that there are only two ways to move forward. One is to implement clean energy technology on the scale of the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Program and stop the burning of fossil fuels. The other is to accept that billions of people will suffer and die because we refuse to take this course. 

Which path will our community adopt? This is the question we should be asking ourselves at every turn, whether it is expanding the North Campus at Cornell, developing the Green Street Garage Project , repowering Cayuga Power Plant, or implementing a new Green Building Policy for the City and Town of Ithaca. We can criticize the lack of commitment and refusal of the US to address the pressing issues of climate change at global summits, but can we let ourselves off the hook? Clearly, we need to set a new course and act with a greater sense of urgency. As Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish climate activist, told the COP24 delegates, "we are facing an existential threat and there is no time to continue down this road of madness."

Peter Bardaglio
TCCPI Coordinator

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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.