to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

Municipalities Lead Charge for Green Initiatives

By Katie Stoner

As the climate protection movement becomes increasingly robust and successful at the local level, one sector in particular has led the charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create sustainable, livable communities. Local governments throughout the country are setting the bar high for effective climate action.

Local governments have led the effort in recent years to envision, accelerate and achieve strong climate protection goals. The 600 local governments that are members of a national network called ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 23 million tons in 2005 alone. This translates into about $600 million in annual cumulative savings, largely on energy expenditures. The Town and City of Ithaca, the Town of Dryden and Tompkins County are all members of ICLEI.

Municipalities situated within Tompkins County, whose goals for climate protection and sustainability are broad and ambitious, have also taken leadership roles in creating a more sustainable future. In addition to the important role played by our educational institutions, not-for profit organizations, and the business community, local governments have shown that they will not wait for solutions to come to them. As we speak, they are hard at work building better cities, towns, and villages for residents of Tompkins County. Here are just a few examples:

City of Ithaca
  • One of 204 cities throughout the nation to adopt the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, committing the city to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Local Action Plan adopted by Common Council in 2006 committed to a 20 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2016
  • Energy efficiency upgrades in City facilities carried out
  • Energy Manager to be hired in 2011

Town of Caroline
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy features part of new town hall:
    • Sun tubes to lighten spaces on the north side
    • Powered by 12.6 watt photovoltaic array, which feed excess energy back to the grid
    • Geothermal system in Town Hall building

Town of Danby
  • Exploring the possibility of a biomass boiler to heat Town facilities

Town of Ithaca
  • Sustainability Planner hired
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory/Climate Action Planning carried out Inventory/Climate Action Planning carried out
  • Integrating sustainability into the Comprehensive Plan
  • Employee sustainability education under development

Town of Dryden
  • Energy efficiency upgrades at highway department completed
  • Geothermal system and high efficiency lighting added to Town Hall facility 
  • Provided funding for local residents to get energy audits
  • Sustainability Planner hired
  • Energy Coordinator to be hired in 2011
  • Sustainability Planning process underway

  • Energy Educator hired
  • Facilities staff focused on energy upgrades to Town facilities and operations

This list merely scratches the surface of the impressive actions taken by local governments in Tompkins County. Residents, business owners, and organizations each have a crucial part to play in maintaining and creating more sustainable and livable communities. Local governments can’t do it alone; only if citizens join in this effort will it be successful.

Katie Stoner is the Sustainability Planner for the Towns of Ithaca and Dryden and a member of Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative.

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

Ithaca Journal 2-9-11