welcome

to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

November-December 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2014
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2013

Energy Smart Policy Initiative: Anne Rhodes

Anne Rhodes, coordinator of the Smart Energy Policy Initiative, will provide an overview of the group’s work and provided TCCPI members with the opportunity for feedback on this work.

  • Grew out of conversations around energy efficiency and rental property.
  • Decided to focus on four priorities:
    • Streamline solar permitting
    • Home energy rating and disclosure
    • Energy conservation code education program
    • Building labeling for multi-family rental properties
  • Representation from number of local municipalities, non-profits and community activists
  • County just received grant to explore energy conservation codes, carrying out background research and gathering political support before seeking adoption by local governments
  • Solar permitting varies significantly from municipality to municipality
  • NYSERDA has been encouraging adoption of uniform permit process
  • Funding is available for municipalities that seek to adopt uniform solar permit process through Cleaner Greener initiative: $2500
  • Workshop held here recently by CUNY on funding opportunity and case studies
  • Home Energy Rating and Disclosure: At point of sale the property has to get an audit -- group looked at different rating systems and may decide to make their own
  • Buyers would incorporate the energy rating into buying decisions
  • NYSERDA grant just awarded: Primarily to hire a consultant to look at all of these issues, check out if it will work with each of the cities
  • Research existing home energy rating systems, legal aspects (how much authority is there to do this), pulling partners on board (real estate agents), creating a technical advisory committee
  • Nick: New state energy conservation code adopted
  • Need to help raise awareness about new code and provide training
  • Taitem Engineering has submitted a proposal to NYSERDA for funding to carry out this program
  • Anne: Smart Energy Policy Initiative (SEPI) would provide support to Taitem if they get the grant
  • If it doesn’t, then SEPI would like to provide supplemental training
  • Carolyn: SEPI also seeking to improve energy efficiency of rental housing -- minimum energy efficiency standard for all rental properties?
  • City probably won’t meet its 80% GHG reduction goal without dealing with rental stock
  • Landlords have no incentive to upgrade; even if they do, tenants don’t necessarily cooperate – most of housing stock pre-1940
  • Anne: At first, explored possibility of finding ways to encourage upgrades but difficult due to issue of split incentives
  • Now seeking to develop ordinance for City of Ithaca that would require landlords to meet energy efficiency standards
  • Dee: Working on presentation for Tompkins County Landlords’ Association as well as Collegetown group
  • Park Foundation providing funding for this work at CCETC
  • Carolyn: Need to be aware of local political dynamics—happy to help navigate these waters
  • Ken: Any way to provide incentives by lowering interest rates for landlords?
  • Anne: Boulder has passed ordinance requiring minimum efficiency standards in 2000—seeking to implement it gradually over time until it’s fully implemented by 2009
  • Funding available for landlords who carry out energy upgrades through imposition of fees on energy bills in Boulder

TCCPI Priorities for 2014: Peter Bardaglio

  • Reviewed Steering Committee discussion of potential priorities for 2014:
    • Smart energy Policy Initiatives
    • 2030 District
    • Renewable energy: Solarize Tompkins, wood pellet heating infrastructure, Black Oak Wind Farm
    • Energy retrofit target
    • Green jobs/new economy
    • Youth climate justice network
  • Discussion at Solarize Tompkins about underrepresented groups and trying to expand employment opportunities – can Solarize Tompkins be encouraged to move in that direction?
  • Nick asked about transportation—to what extent will this be a focus?
  • PB: Part of GYGB work in 2014
  • Carolyn: very concerned about issue of community adaptation and resiliency—Tompkins County has largely dodged the bullet when it comes to storm damage—need to be prepared for storms which will inevitably impact city and county
  • Steering Committee will bring forward a formal proposal for goals in January. We’ll also review the achievements of members of TCCPI

Roundtable Updates

  • Diane Cohen: just received $100K grant through Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council to expand Finger Lakes Re-Use downtown and to increase job opportunities
  • Nick Goldsmith: Park Foundation has provided matching funds for shared sustainability coordinator position between City of Ithaca and Town of Ithaca —50% of funding until 2016 when it’s hoped that two municipalities would provide 100%
  • Dryden has carried out a number of solar projects and purchased a hybrid car
  • Carolyn Peterson: Energy Action Plan adopted unanimously passed by Common Council at its December 3 meeting
  • Watered-down language in appendix that outlined steps necessary for City of Ithaca to implement plan—turned this into a set of guidelines rather than steps
  • Megan McDonald: adaptation and resiliency will certainly be a part of the county’s update of climate and energy plan
  • Reed: Compiling a report on Summer Solutions effort and working with Karim Beers on youth CEOs for GYGB; also working on planning for Youth Power Summit. CEOs will be helping with this effort
  • Karim Beers: Holiday party at Neighborhood Pride celebrating local food and crafts—great participation by musicians
  • Andrew Gill: Stepping down from executive committee of Upstate Green Building Council to focus on working with Urban Green Council in upstate and help with Ithaca 2030 District
  • Stacey Murphy: Working on housing affordability -- less than 1% of housing stock in Tompkins County
  • Among people who are low income, ¾ of income is paid toward rent -- average is 1/3 of income is paid toward rent
  • David Kay: EPA Climate Smart Community project involving
  • EVI moving into its final phase
  • Also Learn@EcoVillageIthaca involved in discussions about growing and expanding its programming
  • Comprehensive Plan has separate sustainability section, and sustainability is threaded throughout the plan
  • Guillermo Metz: Received news that funding approved for development of  wood pellet heating program
  • Also seeking to convert outside boilers to wood pellet heating or wood pellet boilers
  • Ken Schlather: Solarize Tompkins not necessarily convinced that workforce development should be part of its work in 2014
  • Guillermo also noted that the steering committee has concluded that the target of 500 installations too many in terms of expectations placed on contractors—haven’t decided on what number will be
  • Meeting took place earlier this week with Jonathan Comstock and concerned individuals about the workforce issue
  • Strong sense that Solarize program shouldn’t continue for more than one year more
  • Hopefully will stimulate solar market to the point that it will take off on its own
  • Ken: Energy efficiency effort at CCETC has reduced consumption of energy by 50% over the last ten years even though number of people in building has tripled
  • None of these steps required significant expenditures
  • Wood pellet heating effort should lead to growth of new industry in the region; effort has taken nine years of work
  • Marian Brown: IC is carrying out a search for a new energy manager—should be at next month’s meeting
  • Signs of Sustainability exhibition at Sustainability Center—opening reception last Saturday, closing reception will be January 23
  • Sustainability Center open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 2-6 pm.
  • Katie Stoner: Another round of funding issued involving sustainability
  • Among new grants not already discussed at meeting: funding for group to develop form-based code outreach effort and to support development of model

OCTOBER 2014

Southern Tier Wood Pellet Infrastructure: Elizabeth Keokosky and Guillermo Metz

Elizabeth Keokosky is a biomass advocate at Community Biomass Energy and Guillermo Metz is Green Building and Renewable Energy Program Coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County

  • Goal of the proposal is to increase use of biomass in region for heating
  • Pellet fuels ideally suited to northeastern U.S. market
    • Abundant, underutilized forest and agricultural resources
    • Highest energy prices of anywhere in US
    • Huge thermal (heat) market: currently largely dependent on fossil energy (oil, natural gas, propane) – one third of total energy consumption in region
    • Long tradition of using wood as fuel; aging demographics favor developing more convenient ways to burn wood
    • Population and demand density enhances potential for bulk pellet fuel distribution
  • Benefits of using pellet fuels:
    • Reduce dependence on imported oil/propane
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    • Keep fuel dollars in local economy
    • Support strong markets for low-grade wood – keeps forests undeveloped and healthy
    • Reduce certain air pollutants (e.g. SO2, Hg)
    • Renewable and sustainable
  • Biomass advantages vs. fossil fuels:
    • Lower cost
    • Greenhouse gas reductions
    • Supports local economic development
    • Dispatchable (on-demand) renewable fuel
    • Supports sustainable forest management
    • No soil contamination from hydrocarbons
    • Safe to transport and store
  • Disadvantages of biomass:
    • Low density = increased transportation costs
    • Higher equipment costs
  • Most of our energy in Northeast goes to heating homes and businesses
  • Converting from propane or oil to wood can save homeowners significant amounts of money
  • For homes not on natural gas, cheapest options are wood and coal – coal cannot be burned nearly as cleanly in residential units
  • If burning wood pellets, emissions are much lower than coal
  • New advanced boilers operate at high temperatures – much cleaner combustion, high thermal efficiency
  • Proposal seeks to provide incentives to replace old, inefficient wood stoves with new, clean-burning pellet stoves
  • Also outdoor wood boilers with pellet boilers
  • Pellet boiler market unlikely to grow until bulk delivery available
  • Cleaner/Greener Sustainability Phase II Implementation Grant: submitted August 12
  • Focuses on bulk wood pellet market development in Southern Tier counties – includes:
    • 5-6+ commercial/institutional/industrial demonstration heating projects
    • 2 bulk trucks, storage depot and fuel distribution
    • Bulk load-out silo at NE Wood Pellet Deposit plant
    • Market analysis of commercial/institutional opportunities in Southern Tier counties
    • Education/outreach initiative to residential and commercial/institutional sectors
  • Goals of program:
    • To convert low-value agricultural feedstocks into value-added fuel products.
    • Replace fuel oil and propane for generating heat and hot water
    • Create local, efficient options for small scale distributed alternative energy
  • We want to identify types of customers best suited to this type of energy use and their concerns
  • Also how delivery system can best accommodate their concerns to encourage customer’s adaptation and satisfaction
  • Want to determine best practices for developing other pellet delivery systems in Southern Tier
  •  Talking to commercial, institutional, and industrial groups and individuals
  • Wood pellet delivery set to make transformative change in fuel oil/propane companies -- transitioning from dealers of imported fossil fuel energy to dealers of locally produced green energy
  • Entire bio-mass energy system in the process of transforming.
  • Switching from oil and natural gas makes us need to think about storage and conveyances
  • How big is the customer base?
  • We need 300 customers to be profitable – need to do some market research to see how many homes there are that we could convert over
  • 49,000 housing units in Tompkins County – 29% of them use a fuel source that could be converted easily to wood pellets

Update on the City of Ithaca Draft Energy Action Plan: Carolyn Peterson

Carolyn Peterson is the former mayor of the City of Ithaca and has been serving as a volunteer to complete the city’s energy action plan.

  • Energy Action Plan now includes Appendix outlining recommended actions to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – an implementation guide
  • Recommended actions broken down by category, indicator, responsible party and benefit -- categories include transportation, building efficiency, land use, food production, outreach and education, and renewable and/or improved energy sources
  • Recommended activities assigned to city government, Ithaca community, or both
  • EAP contains updated inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for government operations and baseline inventory for community-wide emissions
  • Plan is meant to provide guidelines and recommendations towards the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below the 2001 levels by 2016
  • Energy action plan first brought to Common Council in May 2012 – Dennise Belmaker hired under one-year grant when Carolyn was mayor to develop the plan
  • Energy action plan can be found at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/192085950/Ithaca-Energy-Action-Plan-adopted-by-Common-Council-December-2013

Powershift 2013 in Pittsburgh: Reed Steberger

  • Reed Steberger, TCCPI’s assistant coordinator for youth outreach, and K.C. Alvey, 350.org’s fossil free organizer for NY, NJ, and CT, just returned from this year’s Power Shift gathering October 18-21 in Pittsburgh
  • Website: www.wearepowershift.org/conference/powershift2013.
  • Reed shared his impressions of the conference with us as well as other reflections on the youth climate movement
  • Around 8,000 students from 720 campuses attended conference discuss climate, energy, and environmental justice issues
  • About two dozen students from Ithaca attended
  • First time Power Shift held in Pittsburgh rather than its usual location in Washington, DC
  • Included workshops, keynote speakers, and more than 200 panels on how to run campaigns to promote clean and just energy economy
  • Bill McKibben and Josh Fox among speakers at Powershift 2013

SEPTEMBER 2013

IPCC Report – Discussion

  • PB noted that the Fifth IPCC report was recently issued
  • Scientists declared that it was “extremely likely” that climate change is caused by humans
  • Equivalent to 95% certainty, which is the same level of certainty as “Big Bang Theory”
  • 95% probability is the gold standard in science – always some level of uncertainty
  • People dismiss facts that don’t fit into their view of the world
  • Ed Marx noted that recent studies conclude that, when it comes to climate change, ideology trumps evidence -- the belief that government shouldn't tell people what to do ismore important

Get Your Green Back Tompkins – Karim Beers, Corrdinator

  • GYGB is campaign to engage community members  in four areas: energy use, transportation, food, and waste – campaign has been funded for two years by the Park Foundation
  • Bulk of the campaign devoted to the “Step of the Month” –  we bring groups together for shared marketing and engagement
  • Community Educator Organizers – individuals from under severed communities, lower income, communities of color, the elderly, young people. Some of the results of this work have been a “compost casual” compost education event, the International Youth and Culture Festival, increasing access to healthy food in their communities.
    • Karim reviewed major accomplishments of 2013
    • Included work on raising awareness regarding energy efficiency and transportation, for example, “Streets Alive!”
    • Four major initiatives developed for next year based on discussion with stakeholders and focus groups:
  • Planning process based on experience, research, analysis, conversations -- criteria included: potential to reduce GHG, create jobs, build on prior success, and be mutually reinforcing as wekk as degree of feasibility

1)    Benefit Package: benefits for local large employers to incentivize steps—e.g. discounted CSA shares, carpool, etc.

  • Sector organizations also offer benefits to employer/members , and provide incentives to employees to take these steps
  • Partners: SEEN, Local First Ithaca, TC Chamber of Commerce
  • Potential large employers: Cayuga Medical Center, Cornell, Ithaca College, Cargill
  • Large numbers plus potential impact
  • Karim will be talking with human resources professionals at each of the local large employers to get a better sense of how to imbed these kinds of initiatives in the ongoing operations of the organizations

2)    Reduce building operations costs

  • About 20% of county energy use is in buildings and is mostly nonresidential
  • Target nonresidential buildings, esp. commercial and houses of worship
  • Based in part on success of initiative involving more efficient lighting (insert more info here from Karim’s presentation)

3)    Support sector development

  • “Sectors” refers to the sectors of the campaign – food, transportation, waste, energy – not sectors of the economy.
  • Developing shared goals and collaborative framework (e.g. transportation: reduce number of trips in county and number of drive-alone commutes by 50%; energy: 100% renewable by 2030; food double CSA shares)
  • Simplify message so there are fewer competing messages
  • Building Bridges is seeking to secure communitywide commitment to overcome structural poverty and structural racism
  • Each shift made here creates a number of good jobs that contribute to reduction of structural poverty.

4)    Support change makers

  • Continue work with community education organizers (CEOs) around themes of youth empowerment and sector outreach
  • Building youth network
  • Identify change makers through employee survey
  • Partners: TCCPI, adult allies in schools, Building  Bridges, government, and business
  • Impact: changed relationships of underserved groups to sector organization – how do we connect with low income individuals, immigrants, and minority groups?
  • Increased numbers of engaged and empowered individuals
  • Ed Marx called attention to need for people to make commitments and be held accountable for these commitments – not enough to just provide people with information and tools
  • Pointed to success of Madison, WI with SustainDane (Dane is county in which Madison is located)
  • Employees go through a 6-month program and return to their business and make changes – then program tracks changes.
  • Program very targeted toward specific education around things like building efficiency, etc. – expectation that you come back to each session and report on the changes you’ve made
    • Partners: Building Bridges Initiative, sector organizations and networks, CCE marketing
    • Impact: Stronger businesses; more support from community around shared goals
    • Diane Cohen underscored importance of collaboration in areas such as advertising on the radio – helps get word out about Finger Lakes Re-Use, for example, in ways that it wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
    • Dee Gamble observed that GYGB can play central role in unifying organizations across sectors and unifying message.
    • GYGB needs to move beyond “steps of the month” approach.
    • Ed Marx: How do we identify different goals that are already out there? It’s time to make them more explicit and track the progress toward them.
    • Cleaner, Greener plans have already been developed for each of the regions – a lot of work went into developing these goals
    • A future TCCPI meeting should focus on bringing together Cleaner, Greener plan, updating of Tompkins County Comprehensive plan, and work of City of Ithaca in developing its climate action plan
    • How Get Your Green Back Operates
      • Karim is coordinator
      • Planning group meets every two weeks
      • There’s also a steering committee that includes: Peter, Ken Schlather (Director, CCETC), Kirby Edmonds (Director, Building Bridges), Don Barber, Danielle Harington (Energy Coordinator at TCAction), Katie Stoner (Park Foundation), Katie Borgella (Principal Planner, Tompkins County).

Roundtable Updates

  • Ed Marx: the process of updating TC Comprehensive Plan underway – brief survey online to fill out: tompkinscountyny.gov.com/plan; please get the word out to complete by October 10.
  • Planning Department will become sponsor of Solarize Tompkins for the coming year
  • Already 100 installations in original three towns of Solarize Tompkins SE: Danby, Caroline, and Dryden.
  • Hope to generate 400 installations in the rest of the county
  • Dee Gamble: We could train new folks to work as certified installers – there could be a criteria that you won’t get the Solarize contract if you don’t take steps to train and hire underserved workers.
  • EPA Climate Showcase effort: county will be going to County Legislature for authorization to develop Biggs property for energy efficient housing.
  • Dee Gamble: important to get word out about taking energy efficiency steps first to make sure solar system is the right size.
  • Diane Cohen: Finger Lakes Re-Use celebrating its fifth anniversary – launched Ithaca Fixers Collective to engage people who know how to fix things. Started last November.
  • About 70% success rate – electronic and mechanical
    • Gearing up again for fall – will take place on Saturday afternoons
    • Also looking for laptops to refurbish and then sell at the store
    • Hit sales of $42,000 in August – average sale is around $10 an item.
    • Visibility is important – getting message out to students especially difficult
    • Carolyn Peterson: Brought proposal to the City of Ithaca Common council outlining steps the city needs to take for implementing the plan
    • Biggest weakness is lack of any one person to oversee implementation of agreed upon action – Carolyn recommended the creation of permanent sustainability coordinator

AUGUST 2013

2030 Districts: Graham Gillespie and Andrew Gil, HOLT Architect

  • PB explained progress on discussions regarding establishment of a 2030 District in Ithaca
  • Reminded the group about initial discussion earlier this summer with small group of property owners potentially interested: Travis Hyde, HOLT, Taitum engineering, CCETC, Brightworks, Green Star, First Presbyterian Church, Cornell Cooperative Extension, among others.
  • 2030 District would help move TCCPI towards achievement of one of its four key strategic goals: establishing common metrics and process for collecting and analyzing building performance
  • Graham provided overview of progress being made by four current districts: Seattle, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Pittsburgh
  • Andrew reviewed structure of summit, and objectives of conference
  • Graham emphasized that 2030 Districts meant to be business model for property owners: how investment in energy reduction can lead to significant cost savings
  • Seattle only city that operates within context of state mandate to measure building show
  • Districts in the process of forming in Denver, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, and a few other places
  • Goal for existing buildings is to reduce energy use to 50% of national average by 2030
  • 2030 District also involves commitments involved around water and transportation – latter is “squishiest” to measure
  • Marian Brown pointed out that IC, Cornell and TC3 have developed transportation metrics – happy to share
  • Member/Partner Types:
    • Property Owners/Property Mangers
    • Services Stakeholder – individual or entity that provides services within the 2030 boundary
    • Community Stakeholder – non-profit or government entity, community organization
  • The 2030 Districts in bigger cities have boards with paid staff
  • Los Angeles is financing their project with sponsorships of $10,000/year. They’re working with a very big scale
  • For Ithaca, we would have a steering group with a relatively simple, straightforward structure
  • How do 2030 Districts work with USGBC? LEED certification dovetails nicely given the shared interest in reducing carbon footprint of buildings 
  • In Pittsburgh, the 2030 District is run by the local chapter of USGBC
  • 2030 District representatives went to great lengths at the summit to emphasize that USGBC is not a competitor
  • Andrew noted that another objective important objective of summit involved fleshing out a national district network
  • District administration and organization discussion presented some of best practices and organizational protocol
  • Second session focused on outreach, engagement, communications, marketing and media – how to identify critical local organizations for potential alignment and partnership and establish messaging for collaboration
  • Also how to identify critical marketing information and materials
  • Next session targeted district funding and project funding
  • What are some existing and potential funding mechanisms for 2030 District?
  • Fourth session was where rubber hit the road: data, baselines, and reporting – develop protocol for sharing performance metrics
  • EPA representative shared latest version of Portfolio Manager, which has been streamlined and includes much more user-friendly interface
  • Barbara Lifton pointed out importance of recognizing good work of those who commit to 2030 District – also importance of an attention-getting launch
  • Final session explored how to develop network-wide strategic and technical partnership coordination
  • Great energy at summit – very inspiring experience

Climate Change in the News: Peter Bardaglio

  • Much greater percentage of population in UK believes in climate change than in the US
  • In part due to the much greater influence exerted by the fossil fuel industry over the political process in the US 
  • Also due to the huge amounts of money channeled into the media to deny climate change in the US
  • Barbara Lifton: some of her conservative colleagues are recognizing the climate is changing and there is a need to adapt. They have not yet acknowledged the causes. But it represents a subtle, hopeful, shift. 
  • 2013: Ithaca did not have a summer like 2012 – but heat and drought in Western US continued
  • In Death Valley National Park temperature hit 128 degrees in late June
  • US Airways in the Southwest grounded flights because there was no performance data for how airplanes perform above 118 degrees. 
  • Reduced runoff from the Rocky Mountains has drastically shrunk the two lakes that provide water to 40 million people – Lake Mead and Lake Powel had 42% less inflow than average and are currently less than half full.
  • 51 wildfires reported – Yosemite wildfire now 5th largest in California history
  • Nearly 200,000 acres. 3,000 acres per hour at its height. Like digging a fire line around Manhattan to contain it
  • Midwest and Great Plains: 45% of corn producing region is suffering from drought conditions. 
  • Draft of latest IPCC report leaked to press in August
  • Projects a three feet sea level rise by the end of the century – in the US, 3.7 million people live within 3.3 feet of high tide level
  • Another study: less than 16 inches of seal level rise by midcentury would lead to $1 trillion in annual losses in each of the world’s 136 largest coastal cities
  • IPCC report concludes that 95% likelihood that climate change is due to human activity
  • Ocean acidification a major new area of attention
  • Rate of warming has slowed in recent years: 30-40 percent of emitted carbon is being absorbed by the oceans
  • Altering the chemistry of the ocean, and the entire marine food chain is at risk
  • Long term effect will be to reduce sulfur emissions which will lead to more warming (think of sulfur from volcanoes: cools atmosphere)
  • IPCC Report errs on the side of the conservative as a result of consensus
  • Melting of permafrost is not considered in this report, because there isn’t consensus on how to model it
  • Group discussion: What frame can we create to help move people beyond fear that leads to paralysis?
  • Need to shift messaging toward “connect with community” over “save money
  • Barbara Lifton underscored importance of Obama’s new climate policy, asserting his executive authority to implement new federal regulations controlling carbon pollution
  • Obama’s rhetoric changing a bit – President is pushing the EPA as much as he can despite the House of Representatives
  • Local and regional planning efforts are underway to implement GHG emission reductions
  • The County’s Comprehensive Plan is being updated next year and there are the town and city plans as well – an important time to make sure our voices are being heard 
  • Need to expand the region’s understanding of the Cleaner, Greener Southern Tier goals 
  • Not a lot to disagree with in the stated goals, but the challenge is holding people accountable
  • A lot of different groups – need to work toward a common goal
  • How do we pull people together to get groups to agree and say this is where we’re headed? 
  • To what extent can TCCPI pull together the goals from these different groups, especially between town and gown?

JULY 2013

EPA Local Government Advisory Committee: Carolyn Peterson


  • Carolyn, former mayor of City of Ithaca, currently vice-chair of Tompkins County Environmental Management Council
  • Local Government Advisory Committee reports to EPA commissioner – made up of local citizens
  • Just reappointed to two-year appointment recently—represents Region 2, has served since 2010
  • President’s new climate action plan makes it an especially important time for Tompkins County to have representation at this level
  • Carolyn sits on small community committee – only standing committee
  • Carolyn also vice-chair of work group on air quality, climate and GHG emissions
  • Member of executive committee by virtue of being vice-chair of this work group
  • One of the working groups devoted to environmental justice
  • Katie Borgella suggested it would be useful for EPA to find ways to connect local governments so they can share best practices

Update on the City of Ithaca Climate Action Plan: Carolyn Peterson


  • Draft energy action plan present to Common Council in May 2012 – see http://www.egovlink.com/public_documents300/ithaca/published_documents/Sustainable_Ithaca/Ithaca_Energy_Action_Plan_2012.pdf
  • Carolyn volunteered to see plan brought to completion by the end of this year
  • City has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 20% below 2001 levels by 2016
  • City has made significant progress towards adopting policies that would promote reductions
  • Carolyn focusing on dividing action steps in action plan among various city agencies and developing timetable and identifying resources for carrying out these steps
  • Also adding sections on community actions beyond government and on community resilience and climate adaptation
  • Biggest challenge is the lack of any one person having responsibility in City Hall for sustainability
  • Only Mayor Myrick and Jennifer Dotson supported proposal for new position in last year’s budget
  • Katie Stoner suggested that Carolyn might find it useful to take a look at ways in which the Town of Ithaca is approaching the issue of community action on energy
  • Linda Copman shared how Hawai’i County developed financial metrics demonstrated savings that could be realized from taking steps to make government operations more sustainable
  • Gay Nicholson pointed out that the city comprehensive plan includes recommendations regarding actions the wider community can take to reduce GHG emissions
  • Also observed that heads of different city departments need to take responsibility for making their operations more sustainable – requires change in organizational culture
  • To what extent can TCCPI play a role in raising questions about climate and energy issues in the next city council elections?

Rock the Plan: Jon McNamera

  • Jon McNamera and Johanna Potts working with Grassroots on incorporating climate and clean energy components into Grassroots Festival and Big Splash events
  • Produced Binghamton concert with Natalie Merchant and “Dear Governor Cuomo” concert in Albany
  • Big Splash in Hector provides rallying point for local citizens and wineries
  • “Rock the Plan” not just single event but a campaign to raise awareness about Jacobson report calling for 100% renewable energy by 2030 (water, wind, solar)
  • Hopes to implement cutting edge social and media techniques to promote “Rock the Plan” and mobilize people to sign petitions in support of plan
  • Saturday August 10 from 1 PM to 9 PM at Stewart Park
  • Bob Howarth will be speaking at “Rock the Plan” about the Jacobson report 
  • Driftwood, Grady Girls, and other groups will be playing

JUNE 2013

District 2030 Update: Peter Bardaglio

  • Provided a brief update on initial meeting of potential participants and encouraged other downtown property owners to come forward
  • 2030 District Summit in Pittsburgh this August – good opportunity to find out how other communities are implementing this initiative

Zero Net Energy Tax Credit Bill: Barbara Lifton, Assembly District 12

  • Introduction of bill to General Assembly inspired by Ed Mazria’s visit to Ithaca.
  • Has distributed DVD of Mazria’s talk to key staff in Albany.
  • Shared stories about how Ithaca and Tompkins County have been model for other regions of the country – recent call with White House, for example. 
  • Provided committee staff with model legislation from Architecture 2030 – they revised language and put price tag of $130 million on it even though Barbara considers it revenue-neutral. 
  • Jim Seward in State Senate agreed to co-sponsor legislation – Assembly 2594 and Senate 5694 
  • Took place late in session – serious interest among members of Assembly Ways and Means Committee – asked for more data.
  • Would provide homeowners personal state income tax credit for purchasing new or renovated home-based on energy reduction targets
  • 50% reduction in energy consumption --> $5,000
  • 75% reduction --> $7,500
  • 100% reduction --> $10,000
  • Tax credit would go directly to homeowner
  • Will probably become incorporated into budget process next year
  • Not a good time right now to generate a lot of public pressure
  • Barbara reaching out to key environmental organizations such as Sierra Club
  • Will provide TCCPI with guidance later this year
  • Kevin Posner: how do we address issue of split incentives? 
  • Katie Borgella: applauded Barbara’s leadership on this issue
  • PB: pointed out that this is a good example of how economic and environmental initiatives can go hand in hand – will put more money in the hands of middle class consumers
  • Andrew Gil offered support of Upstate NY US Green Building Council

Local Living Economies: Peter Bardaglio and Jan Rhodes Norman

  • Jan and Peter shared info from 2013 BALLE Conference in Buffalo
  • Local First Ithaca founding member of NY Sustainable Business Network
  • Jan found Janine Benyus’s talk on biomimicry especially inspiring – her TED talk can be found at http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_shares_nature_s_designs.html
  • Focus on mutualism, collaboration – new approaches to leadership – at conference
  • Jan interested in pursuing concept of local procurement consortiums
  • Importance of anchor institutions such as universities and hospitals in driving local economies 
  • Procurement consortiums focused on local economy address issue of leaky bucket
  • Full program of conference: http://bealocalist.org/sites/default/files/balle_program-final.pdf

Resilient Communities for America: Nick Goldsmith

  • Herb Engman one of 54 inaugural signers in this new national campaign
  • Launched June 17 in Washington DC – see http://www.resilientamerica.org
  • ICLEI is coordinating effort but also includes key partners such as National Wildlife Federation, USGBC, etc.
  • Local officials who sign make commitment to create more resilient city, town, county 
  • Town of Ithaca has already taken several steps to make itself more resilient 
  • Resilient Communities for America already in line with Town’s goals and policy outlook
  • KB: Need to make sure that people don’t just sign commitment and then don’t follow up with action
  • PB: How can we get local officials to sign on and use that commitment to get them to focus on new county hazard mitigation plan?
  • Dominic Frongillo offered to help get word out to NY Elected Officials to Protect NY to attract additional signatories

Roundtable Updates

  • Elizabeth Keokosky: Danby Land Bank working with Ehrhart to put wood pellet distribution system in place – also working with them on launching effort to install wood pellet boilers – Cooperative Extension is helping to identify market
  • Ingrid Zabel: Two new climate change exhibits at Museum of the Earth: one on glaciers and the other on coral reefs
  • Jan Rhodes Norman: Local First Ithaca will be focusing on local procurement issues in next several months
  • Tristram Coffin: Alternatives Federal Credit Union has new loan product at 3.99% for folks participating in Solarize Tompkins SE – new solar panels installed on building
  • Karim Beers reminded people about GYGB Treasure Hunt as part of Second Hand Saves
  • Ken Schlather: Solar panel system also just installed at Cooperative Extension – also shared news that Cleaner Greener funding criteria have been expanded to include education and outreach
  • Reed Steberger: Summer of Solutions launched this month with focus on climate justice
  • Mark Witmer: Solarize Tompkins SE contracts currently has about 300 people now signed up to take next steps (enrolled) – Danby, Caroline, Dryden – installation will begin once NYSERDA processes paperwork – Solar Liberty anticipates first panels to be installed in September
  • More than 40% of enrollees signed up for both PV and solar thermal systems
  • Steve Nicholson – chair of Environmental Management Council: Hearing on repowering of Cayuga Power Plant and range of complex issues related to it – also working to ban single use plastic bags. 
  • Katie Stoner announced recent grants from Park Foundation’s local sustainability fund 
  • Jon McNamera: Grassroots Festival has updated its mission to include sustainability and it will be a key priority going forward – opportunities for forum to share info about new technologies and new ideas regarding clean energy technology and projects
  • Grassroots coming up in three weeks – also new event in Stewart Park in August: “Rock the Plan” will highlight Mark Jacobson and Bob Howarth report on how NYS can exit from fossil fuel regime
  • Two Big Splash events this year: one already took place in Binghamton and another coming up on Labor Day weekend in Hector 
  • Barbara Lifton emphasized importance of activists working with people inside Albany to get word out about Jacobsen and Howarth report
  • Katie Borgella reminded people that Phase II of Cleaner Greener plan now underway—provides funding for implementation of Cleaner Greener plan
  • Nick Goldsmith: Sustainability Center now open – gallery space there, poster displays, two events each month, including Bookshelf Series of talks

MAY 2013

Cleaner, Greener Southern Tier: Katie Borgella, Tompkins County Planning Dept.

  • Part of a statewide effort to develop regional sustainability plans.
  • Tompkins County Planning Department is taking the lead on this. The plan was submitted in June 2013, requesting $90 M in competitive funding.
  • Manufacturing has declined 25% in the Southern Tier in the last decade.
  • Forest products are a key resource that could sequester up to 70% of the carbon in the region.
  • Wind and solar are also significant resources.
  • The plan highlights:
    • The farm economy
    • Conservation and renewables
    • Reinvestment in cities
  • It seeks to reduce regional GHG emissions by 32% within twenty years, and identifies 22 priorities for the next several years.
  • The plan also includes energy efficiency, renewable energy, creative financing, transportation, smart growth, workforce development, local food, sustainable forestry, hazard mitigation, water treatment improvement, and solid waste management efforts.
  • Southern Tier GHG Emissions:
    • Transportation makes up 37%
    • Buildings (residential, commercial, and industrial) account for 47%
    • Natural gas provides 43% of the energy in the region
    • Forty-one (41) MW of combined heat and power in the region; 30 MW of that at Cornell University
  • Top six energy actions:
    • Promote renewable energy and energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings
    • Develop regional energy road map
    • Explore and create financing options for renewable energy and energy efficiency systems
    • Facilitate deployment of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems
    • Facilitate use of biomass for heating
    • Facilitate use of combined heat and power in private development projects and public facilities
  • Next steps:
    • Form partnerships and identify leaders to undertake actions
    • Apply for Phase II funding (NYSERDA)
    • Look for other funding sources (DOE, ARC)

Solarize Tompkins SE: Mark Wittmer, Project Director

  • Solarize Tompkins SE was an outgrowth of discussions among Energy Independent Caroline members.
  • Decentralizing energy production is key to building more resilient communities.
  • Jan Myers, head of Solarize Madison, provided the inspiration for the Tompkins County initiative, and worked with Solarize Tompkins SE membership to launch the effort.
  • Solarize Tompkins SE funded by the Park Foundation.
  • When Solarize Portland (OR) launched its initiative, it tripled the amount of solar used in the city. Madison County jumped from 43 KW to 300 KW in one year.
  • Also moved from 24th place to 1st place in NY state in 2012 in affordability of solar.
  • First public workshop took place in Dryden in April 2013.
  • Competitive bid and vetting of installing partners – 10 bids were submitted.
    • Solar Liberty installing PV
    • Renovus installing solar/thermal
  • Community education key
  • Limited time offering
  • Initiative seeks to inform community about technology and financing of solar and streamline decision-making process, reducing customer inertia
    • All six workshops were well-attended – about 240 to 250 people in all
    • Longer-term goal is to stimulate development of more robust solar installer community
    • Average price of PV in Tompkins County in 2012 was $5.5/W – that represents a 32% price reduction before federal and state incentives kick in
  • Solarize Tompkins SE will offer several options:
    • Solar PV
    • Solar Thermal (domestic hot water)
    • Ground-mounted and roof-mounted
    • Purchase and Lease; low-interest loans; and incentive grants for income-qualifying residents
  • All grid tied systems with net metering
  • Solar hot water system initially priced at $10,900 reduced to $3,266 after rebates and incentives – some 30% of the initial costs.
  • With solar PV, base cost leasing is $45/month for fifteen years -- $3.75/W – if greater than 200KW (about 30 – 40 systems), price will be reduced by $0.70.
  • Given the level of interest already, it looks like that number will be easy to achieve.
  • Initial pricing of PV system, roof-mounted (base price) is $19,500. With rebates and tax credits, reduced to $5,499, which is 28% of the initial price.
  • If more than 200KW, $5,499 would be reduced to $2,951, 15% of the initial price ($0.57 per watt).
  • Enrollment closed June 15 – currently there about 153 applicants, almost entirely residential.
  • Solarize Tompkins SE consists of Caroline, Dryden and Danby
  • Talking about the possibility of going county-wide next year
  • Streamlining the permit process and reducing the cost of the permit fee key to success of solar program – will it lead to county-wide streamlining?
  • AFCU has 3.99 % loan program for people coming through Solarize Tompkins SE, and no closing costs.
  • The town of Dryden has two new installations: Town Hall and Public Library, for a total of 72 KW.

April 2013

Arctic Ice to Arabian Deserts: Chuck Greene

Chuck Greene is professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell and is director of the university’s Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program. He shared findings from his recent work on how Arctic ice loss amplified Superstorm Sandy and how the Sahara Forest Project is “greening the desert.”

  • Global warming since Industrial Revolution has taken place disproportionately in northern hemisphere
  • Looking at 2-6 feet sea level rise by end of century – as much as 80 feet over next 200 years
  • Forty percent decline in minimum area of summer ice in Arctic as of this past summer
  • IPCC model is product of very conservative process – tends to downplay risk
  • End of summer sea ice projected to occur by 2030 at latest – potentially 2020
  • Loss of Arctic sea ice stacking deck in favor of more severe winter weather in US and Europe
  • Slows down jet stream which leads it to meander more, dropping Arctic air further south – also leads to “blocking pattern” which can stall out weather systems and hold them in place
  • This is what happened with Superstorm Sandy – could have been result of natural climate variability but increased probability due to global warming
  • Fast approaching point where we have to seriously consider geoengineering
  • Deliberate large-scale engineering of Earth system to counteract effects of greenhouse warming
  • One approach, solar radiation management, only deals with symptoms – very risky because of ways it could affect precipitation patterns
  • More effective, less risky approach is removing CO2 from atmosphere
  • Can use captured CO2 from direct air capture to produce biofuel from algae
  • Alternative is to pump captured CO2 into underground caverns but this takes place at a cost with no return
  • Production of biofuel and other related products from algae provides incentive to capture CO2
  • Sahara Forest Project is effort to provide resources such as food and water using carbon capture technologies integrated with greenhouses and solar/wind power
  • Not using direct air capture technology in demonstration project but looking to deploy this technology when scaling up

Biomass and Geothermal Resources in Tompkins County: The Energy Roadmap

Jonathan Tsai and Nick Raasch, two interns with the Tompkins County Planning Dept., reviewed their findings on biomass and geothermal energy resources in Tompkins County and gathered feedback from the group.


  • Building on earlier study that looked at solar, wind, and biomass
  • Jonathan Tsai on biomass resources in County: 300K acres in county: 140K acres of forested land; 40K acres of brush land; 14K acres of inactive agricultural land
  • Roughly 41% of forested land could be used for biomass production
  • Logging residues from conventional operations and forest management would provide primary source of biomass production
  • Annual growth rate of 281K tons – removal of 40K and mortality rate of 141K  leaves net annual growth of 100K
  • Willow has potential to produce 5 tons per acre per year – switchgrass has similar potential
  • Both low maintenance crops – combined enough to heat 32K homes (78%) in County
  • Major challenge: how do you break chicken or egg dynamic to develop market?
  • Danby Land Bank one of most significant grassroots efforts in County
  • In theory, forest and biomass crops could meet 100% of residential heating demand in Tompkins County
  • Nick Raasch on geothermal resources in County
  • 80% of geothermal energy produced by radioactive decay in ore
  • Focus should be on simple geothermal heat pumps to provide heating
  • Powered by relatively consistent temperature of earth 5 meters below surface
  • Several ground loop choices: closed or open/vertical or horizontal
  • Horizontal much cheaper but take up more land – ground temperature not as consistent as vertical systems
  • Very difficult right now to compete with natural gas due to price differential
  • But geothermal heat pumps very effective at reducing GHG emissions
  • If all houses adopted geothermal heat pumps, would produce 73% decline in GHG emissions
  • Prices for installation of geothermal heat pumps vary wildly – average about $42K and $24K after incentives
  • Federal tax credit of 30% of total system cost
  • For average case, difficult to recommend ground source heat pumps from economic perspective
  • GHG savings are huge, however – also more viable option for rural homes that can only use fuel oil or propane geothermal heat pumps

Debrief on Climate Smart Climate Ready Conference and Youth Power Summit: All


  • Over 1000 people attended CSCR/YPS events over four days
  • David Kay very impressed by quality of outreach and marketing
  • Ended up raising $38K, including ticket sales
  • Ed Marx raised question of how we capture ideas presented that we could implement here but aren’t just yet
  • Tompkins Council of Governments discussed possibility of switching street lights to LEDs
  • Reed shared impressions about Youth Power Summit – very positive response from students who attended.
  • Came to see themselves as part of a larger movement focused on social justice dimensions of fossil fuel resistance.

MARCH 2013

Climate Change Communications: Lauren Chambliss

Lauren Chambliss is communications director for the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF). She oversees the Atkinson Center's communications and publicity programs, outreach, and events, building name recognition and broader awareness of Cornell's sustainability activities and contributions.

  • Culture organized around consumerism, little if any federal leadership on climate change
  • Huge gap between scientific consensus and public awareness/understanding
  • At tipping point where we can begin to close gap but despair clearly won’t work
  • How do we change frame?
  • Public response more difficult than generally believed
  • Range of opinion runs from “dismissive” (people who know science but dismiss it) to “alarmed” (people who know science but are alarmed)
  • Need to focus on ”concerned” and “cautious” – together with the “alarmed” group, these three total 70% according to most recent data
  • About 26% of Americans rate climate change as a top government priority
  • 79% of Democrats and 56% of independents agree climate change is occurring and we need to deal with it
  • Close to half of all Americans believe climate change is occurring and we should do something about it
  • About one-third of corporations include climate change in their planning models
  • By 2009-2010 media coverage reflected scientific consensus, even in Wall St. Journal coverage
  • Messaging needs to appeal to both head and heart not just head – also needs to broaden focus, talk solutions, personalize it, and use new media
  • Health messages much less polarizing than environmental messages
  • Need to make connection with audience by telling stories – need to avoid jargon
  • Speak to uncertainty but also address range of possibilities
  • Make connections that people can understand, like connections between extreme weather and climate change
  • Use term “climate change” rather than “global warming” – much more effective in communicating with general public
  • Peer to peer communication much more effective than communications through mass media

2030 District Discussion

  • This was a follow up to Ed Mazria’s visit with us last month. Ed is the founder of Architecture 2030 (See http://architecture2030.org). The 2030 District initiative (http://www.2030district.org) is one of Architecture 2030’s key programs – should we establish a 2030 District in Ithaca as we move to reduce our carbon footprint?
  • Very little downside but effort and commitment has to come from within
  • If support isn’t there, then initiative won’t be effective
  • Energize Ithaca and 2030 District fit well together
  • To what extent will new construction move beyond just “meeting code"?
  • How will moving forward with 2030 District put pressure on city to implement its energy action plan? To what extent would Downtown Ithaca Alliance support or host discussion?

Roundtable Updates

  • Katie Stoner: Park Foundation now supporting CSCR Conference, Solarize Tompkins SE, Streets Alive, and Friends of Stewart Park
  • TC Action: Continuing with their work on low-income households
  • Jim: TC3 just finished 50 KW installation on student center – TC3 Foundation putting small solar collector on its headquarters – retrofitted all lighting in Tioga Place and will begin lighting control systems
  • Kevin: CCETC recruiting summer interns – new program involving energy monitoring focused on residential- would loan for month to explore people to ideas
  • Jason: Center at Ithaca study on CHP engineering about 60% complete – installation of CHP would allow building to become Red Cross ShelterDominic: Youth Power Summit coming along nicely – national speakers – engaged in conversation about political actions they can take. Students from KyotoNOW met with Board of Trustees yesterday at Cornell.
  • 20 volunteers working on Solarize Tompkins SE – 10 firms have responded to RFP
  • David Kay: EVI making great progress on TREE – units that hoped to achieve passive house rating qualified recently – Sen. Gilibrand’s office has contacted EVI for tour
  • Several focus groups on different aspects of sustainability underway as part of City Comprehensive Plan
  • New sustainability major established at Cornell
  • Jon Jenson: Now funding Gasland 2, premiering at Tribeca, then HBO. Designing new office to go into new building where Challenge used to be – shooting for LEED Platinum for space – exploring possible pedagogical uses
  • Andrew: HOLT has made significant commitment to carbon reduction – intend to pursue both educational and advocacy efforts. Will include commitment to both new buildings they design and retrofits they undertake. Andrew will be chair of board of Upstate USGBC chapter (includes everything except Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester County)
  • Paul: Proposal out to federal EPA for grant for hydrogen station – state funding for hydrogen bus
  • Gay: Finger Lakes Climate Fund issuing fourth round of applications for small grants – organizing CSCR event for April 16-19 – urged TCCPI members to reach out to people who haven’t been part of climate conversation to attend conference
  • Karim: GYGB doing composting in April and transportation in May
  • Kelly Cronin: PRI- Park Foundation funded exhibition on weird weather now traveling around state

FEBRUARY 2013

Architecture 2030 and the Climate Crisis: Edward Mazria

Edward Mazria is the founder of Architecture 2030, an internationally recognized effort to transform the building sector in the face of the growing climate crisis. See http://architecture2030.org.

  • Architecture 2030 is a think tank that identifies problems within architecture, conducts research on energy, climate change and building design, finds solutions 
  • Issues first target in 2006.  50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030- start in increments for buildings
  • Architecture 2030’s goals for 55% emissions reduction standard are now adopted for federal buildings; the federal government is the largest property owner in the U.S.
  • Also started issuing targets for districts, cities, counties: energy consumption, water consumption, transportation, started at 10% then went to 50%
  • State legislature targets/incentives that are cost neutral
  • District efforts are public-private joint ventures
  • Working on developing such effort in Seattle- all voluntary, moving needle
  • Vincent Martinez heads up district work for Architecture 2030
  • Seattle started a 2030 energy district; as a private public partnership; driven by private sector but City of Seattle eager to get involved and Kings County government buildings in the district too; ripple effects of this district (councilmembers who own buildings in other districts upgrade their homes too)
  • Seattle is also a recipient of EPA Climate Showcase Community grant/award
  • Cleveland, OH has also formed a district, formed by architects and engineers; 22 million square feet
  • In Pittsburgh, PA, the Green Building Alliance (a non-profit) has driven the project; Pittsburgh Steelers had their building in this district, project completed in record time
  • Denver, CO trying to start a district too
  • Los Angeles, CA is forming a district, getting ready to launch
  • Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Oakland, San Diego also interested
  • Putting together coalition of business, non-profit, government leaders – establish boundaries – organization plays role of neutral arbitrator/coordinator
  • Architecture 2030 establishes framework but each district develops its own identity
  • Compiling information about how to form a district, who the players are, etc.
  • Opportunity for business communities to lead sustainability efforts, primarily (40%) business property owners/managers, 20% architects, 20% community stakeholders, 20% other
  • Process of forming group, choosing organization to lead the effort: Seattle formed its own group, but might be through professional organization or non-profit
  • Next step: forming the boundary, usually centered around downtown area, focused on commercial buildings with large business owners, government buildings, educational facilities; single-family homes usually not included
  • In some cities, universities have wanted to form their own districts because they’re usually not in the downtown area, their own little city
  • Universities are prime candidates for getting involved
  • Structured around 2030 targets, a lot of room for flexibility, each district forms its own identity; ex. Pittsburgh reshaping their district and taking into consideration things that matter to them like air pollution
  • Final step: getting commitments from property owners that are part of the district; it’s all voluntary but you sign a charter and officially commit to targets and being involved
  • Entire network for all district members through National Field, share documents, numbers, etc.
  • National conference calls, workshops, etc. bring folks together across country who are committed to targets
  • Working on bringing national firms such as Lucent, Schneider Electric, Lutron into conversation
  • Free building dashboard for every member of the district, aggregated into dashboard for the whole district too
  • Districts are a large area usually and have a lot of power in terms of financing, etc.
  • Looking towards banners or visible indications that buildings are part of the district
  • Architecture 2030 issued three basic targets (energy, water consumption, vehicle miles traveled), but cities have been identifying their own additional targets, ex. air quality, solid waste management
  • Property owners in the district communicate, share best practices, etc.
  • Are there staffing needs to implement the projects?
  • Every district usually has an executive director, who is usually paid; some also have a few staff people; it depends if it’s working through an existing organization; some have received grants for their positions from foundations (Kresge, Heinz, etc.)
  • Many foundations in local areas that are very willing to fund local projects, so easier for the districts themselves to get grants than Architecture 2030 itself
  • Some residential buildings parts of districts
  • Also have quarterly conference call for all of the districts to ask questions, share best practices
  • Need to get build out right over next generation or we’ll be in real trouble

TCCPI Goals for 2013, Pt. II: Peter Bardaglio

  • Looking to move towards hybrid model of non-profit/for-profit, public-private partnership 
  •  Park Foundation grant runs through June 2014, so we have time to transition 
  • Continuing to support Youth projects, key area moving forward as young people are invested in protecting their future in terms of climate change; K.C. supporting fossil fuel divestment campaigns at Ithaca College and Cornell (and rest of New York State); Dominic and Reed supporting high school and college students in planning Youth Power Summit 2013 this April as part of Climate Smart Climate Ready Conference 
  • TCCPI continuing to be project of Second Nature, helps drive notion that higher education needs to be part of community as a whole, moving towards collaborative model rather than town v. gown 
  • Need to step up the City of Ithaca’s involvement – participation by Town of Ithaca, Town of Caroline, and Town of Dryden has been great 
  • Dennise Belmaker’s position ended; right now we have no representative from the City of Ithaca 
  • Immediate goals: working with the City of Ithaca, working with Energize Ithaca and other partners under the umbrella of Architecture 2030 – need to explore support for this effort 
  • How do these goals get translated into concrete objectives? 
  • Three of the major economic drivers in the county have committed to significant climate action: Cornell, Ithaca College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College 
  • Need to continue building on these formal agreements, as well as formal commitments from local governments, and continue expanding the TCCPI coalition More than just public commitments, more than higher ed institutions doing their own thing, needs to involve whole community rather than working in individual silos 
  • Serving as an incubator for innovative projects 
  • What are the other goals for 2013 that folks want to see? 
  • Continue Youth work and supporting GYGB efforts 
  • Move policy discussion forward: Working Group is meeting to discuss what policy changes could encourage reduction of carbon footprint 
  • Zoning discussions that promote smart growth at the city and county level 
  • City of Ithaca revising its Comprehensive Plan, so opportunity there to contribute over next few months 
  • How do we get the local school districts and religious groups into the conversation? 
  • Allwyn John should be invited to these meetings! 
  • Karim is working with students at LACS about what they can do for an energy competition, looking to inter-school competition
  • Getting someone from BOCES would be great

Update on Climate Smart Climate Ready Conference: Gay Nicholson

  • April 18-21: http://climatesmartclimateready.org
  • Spearheaded by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
  • Opening night is Thursday at the Hanger Theatre with Mark Hertsgaard, author of “Hot”
  • Friday: medical and legal sessions aimed at Tompkins County Bar Association and healthcare organizations – will discuss public health issues related to climate change
  • Saturday: overview of climate data with Cornell professors – agricultural, ecological, human dimensions, built environment; three tracks: local government, business sector, community (for concerned citizens, community leaders)
  • Climate smart = mitigation (energy efficiency, reducing emissions)
  • Climate ready = adaptation and resiliency (what local governments need to pay attention to)
  • Opportunities in green building sector
  • Media literacy on climate change
  • Conversation with clergy and philosophers about climate justice
  • Session with all the different campaigns about residential energy use (GYGB, etc.); what are we learning about how to reach people and inspire behavior change?
  • What are the markers for community resiliency? What makes a neighborhood more resilient? 
  • Final reception at Center Ithaca
  • Sunday is Earth Day: local foods cook-off at Ithaca Earth Day, Mark Hertzgaard will speak there too
  • Still fundraising, so let Gay know if you know of anyone who’d like to contribute
  • Looking at the marketing and outreach moving forward
  • Shared sense of urgency and understanding about climate change; developing common language around traditional values; tagline is “protecting and preserving our communities”

JANUARY 2013

Responsible Endowments Coalition: Dan Apfel, Executive Director

  • Executive Director of Responsible Endowments Coalition
  • REC works to increase accountability of colleges and universities to the public good and to future generations
  • $400 billion invested nationwide by higher ed institutions in endowments
  • $5.5 billion in Ithaca
  • Limited transparency, investments typically made without regard to mission, public purpose, or stated values
  • 665 University signatories to the Presidents Climate Commitment, including Cornell, Ithaca College, and TC3
  • No US university has signed the UN Principles for Responsible Investment
  • Very limited commitment to responsible investing by colleges
  • REC founded in 2004 by students from Duke, Swarthmore, UPenn, Barnard & Williams
  • Saw huge amount of money universities have and potential for environmentally and socially responsible investing
  • REC supports students and university community members organizing for responsible investing issues
  • Supports administrators trying to implement responsible investing
  • Seeks to raise awareness of the importance of responsible investment
  • Successes
    • Spread proxy voting to over 50 campuses
    • Directly moved over $10 million to community and responsible investments
    • Filed over one dozen shareholder resolutions, including changing McDonald’s potato buying and JP Morgan’s financing of MTR
  • What We’re Doing Now:
    • Supporting colleges on shareholder engagement and implementation of RI
    • Supporting community investing
    • Supporting national fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment, to move money out of dirty energy and into sustainable investments and communities, now on 200 campuses
  • Upcoming webinar with AASHE on fossil fuel divestment and SRI in March

National Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign: K.C. Alvey

  • Climate change already here: fossil fuel reserves can easily push climate change over cliff
  • Moral issue that involves future of youth – what kind of world will they be living in?
  • Bill McKibben’s article in Rolling Stone on “Terrifying Math of Climate Change” and 350.org’s “Do the Math” tour have been important catalysts in sparking student movement
  • Hampshire College and Unity College have committed to fossil fuel divestment as well as City of Seattle Divestment movement got its start at Swarthmore College in PA
  • Cornell and Ithaca College have active campaigns, as well as Bard, NYU, and several SUNY campuses, among others in New York State
  • Ed Marx shared his thoughts about bringing this perspective to the attention of the County Legislature

TCCPI Youth Initiative: Reed Steberger

  • Coming up with a program for this coming summer 2013 called Summer of Solutions, hosted and supported by national youth organization Grand Aspirations
  • “Summer of Solutions Ithaca” will be a project of the Green Umbrella: NY Youth for a Just and Sustainable Future that seeks to bring together youth in the region and New York State more broadly
  • 15 SoS locations around the country last year; this coming summer will have 20
  • Focuses on building youth-led solutions to climate crisis
  • Ariana Shapiro is working with Reed and K.C. on helping to create space for youth to identify issues and actions: “frontline” efforts
  • Didn’t want to produce something that was redundant, spent time thinking through the need
  • Four needs:
    • Youth leadership: Create opportunities for young people that are led by young people. Young people represent frontline in climate crisis.  Organizing collectively around it. Unwilling to compromise on their future.  Focusing on youth leadership development to provide the tools for young people to make change in their communities.
    • Organizing framework: A lot of incredible sustainability work happening.  Offer a framework of organizing, campaigning- highly focused campaigns focused on specific goals and objectives, building new narratives and network.
    • Justice as central: Need to tackle root causes of climate crisis. Tackling issues of justice and disproportionate impact of climate change
    • Connecting anti-fossil fuel extraction movement with solutions: Focusing on “Summer of Solutions” to build long-term, sustainable solutions
  • Thinking about how to address these four needs – have been reading about Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, came up with the idea of a training center
    • Partner with different community organizations (Gardens 4 Humanity, Energy Corps, Natural Leaders Initiative, LACS, Building Bridges, Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, etc.) and provide organizing skills to complement the programs they work on
    • Work with partner organizations to give presentations, co-facilitate topical workshops
    • Create a space for young people to create campaigns of their own
  • Bringing young people into planning process and training center that will help facilitate this work
  • Looking to build a core leadership team of 5-10 people from the county and across the state, participants from partner organizations
  • Project is still evolving and open to feedback
  • Also working on a Youth Power Summit as a youth track for the Climate Smart Climate Ready conference
  • What about internships or programs for middle school students (who aren’t of driving age)?
  • Also, in absence of Women’s Community Building, definite lack of community meeting spaces; thinking about addressing that over the long term; Katie Borgella suggested that we talk with Jackie from Sustainability Center
  • Ed Marx mentioned that Nick Goldsmith is developing an intergenerational conversation on sustainability
  • Idea to connect incoming students to Ithaca community with Orientation programs at Cornell and Ithaca College

TCCPI Feedback and Goals for 2013

  • Priorities:
    • Take steps to plan for climate adaptation and resilience:  several sessions were devoted to this throughout the year, fed into County’s planning for Cleaner Greener Southern Tier initiative and Hazard Mitigation Plan
    • Support development of Combined Heat & Power and district energy projects: Peter has worked with Energize Ithaca downtown; moving slower than he would like, but has gotten more traction in last couple of months
    • Create new ways of thinking about how to prioritize investments in infrastructure to implement this thinking: EPA Climate Showcase Community grant, Cleaner Greener Southern Tier Sustainable Development Plan, local investment opportunities
    • Support Building Bridges and Get Your GreenBack Tompkins
    • Roll out Southern Tier Regional Economic Development initiative: awarded $1 million by Governor but plug pulled on project due to technical challenges with grant terms; still working with Blue Hill Partners to focus on LED outdoor commercial lighting for street lights in City of Binghamton
    • Focus on developing ties with faith communities, school districts, and larger employers: efforts have not yielded results
    • Youth initiative has lots going on
  • Feedback:
    • Networking opportunities appreciated
    • Keeping in the loop about what’s happening locally, nationally, etc.
    • Develop more specific goals for 2013-2014
    • More involvement from universities needed
    • Less pontificating
    • Concern that members of a climate protection group are afraid to speak out about fossil fuel extraction
    • Need to start on time

309 North Aurora Street | Ithaca, NY 14850 | info@tccpi.org

Meeting Highlights: 2013