to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

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

Meeting Highlights: 2017

December 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017

December 2017

The Future of Clean Energy in Tompkins County – Panel Discussion

Elisabeth Harrod from Snug Planet, Kate Millar from Renovus Solar, and Lou Vogel from Taitem Engineering discussed the future of renewable energy and energy efficiency in our community, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. 

  • Kate Millar: Renovus founded in 2003 – started out as residential
  • Established its first solar farm in 2015
  • Have several projects in pipeline, including 3MW installation behind Snug Planet – also building a 1.2 MW project
  • Big spike in solar in 2015 – that’s when Renovus began doing commercial projects
  • Solar market has expanded dramatically over past several years
  • Good time for individual businesses to got solar
  • Major threat is proposed tariff on panels coming from overseas
  • Tax reform another threat – could make environment for large-scale solar less attractive
  • High tax assessments in Tompkins County also a significant barrier
  • Lou Vogel (Taitem): Tariff issue is definitely threatening to raise price of solar
  • Another challenge is low cost of natural gas
  • Blockchain technology could be an interesting area of growth – allows for interactive system that allows, for example, neighbors to trade electricity back and forth
  • Also working on providing energy management service thanks to NYSERDA subsidy
  • Stretch code for commercial buildings should help stimulate energy efficiency market
  • Taitem’s study on financial viability of air-source heat pumps another new area of focus – NYAERDA incentives have helped develop this market as well
  • Working on a solar carport in Syracuse for architectural firm
  • Working with INHS on solar for low-income households
  • Have been doing commissioning for large projects to make sure they operate the way they’re supposed to
  • Also collaborating with other solar companies to form solar credit union to help finance projects – Amicus
  • In addition, working with Ithaca 2030 District
  • Elisabeth Harrod: We started Snug Planet in 2006 – focused on residential energy efficiency
  • New area: helping homeowners achieve net zero
  • Snug Planet has kept 24K tons of carbon from Tompkins County atmosphere
  • Carry out about 100 home projects a year
  • Order matters: tighten up house and then go solar
  • Air source heat pumps don’t work well in house that doesn’t have proper insulation
  • Air source heat pumps are future – net zero homes are possible
  • Finger Lakes Climate Fund provides support for energy retrofits
  • Cheap is not necessarily the way to go with energy efficiency
  • Snug Planet pays living wage to its workers
  • People should come out to volunteer in the field to see what work actually entails
  • Lou: Taitem looking at energy storage as possible new area of growth – state level policymaking helping to encourage this trend
  • Mark Witmer: Heat pumps are form of energy storage when coupled with solar
  • Andrew Gil: Agrees that net zero is within reach – demand charges, however, can hinder move towards net zero for large commercial buildings
  • David Kay: Systems thinking is complicated – makes it difficult to coordinate/collaborate
  • Elisabeth: Important for businesses in the energy efficiency/renewable energy field to tlak with each other and work together to develop solutions
  • Karim Beers: Energy Navigators program has come up against cost issue
  • Megan McDonald: Move towards renting will exacerbate issue of split incentives
  • Elisabeth: Energy efficiency is high level work – can have very negative consequences if work isn’t carried out properly
  • Kate: Need more women in solar installation workforce – electrical engineers are in high demande – need more students going into field
  • Lou: We should be encouraging young people to go into the trades


Housing Capital Reserve Fund – Megan McDonald

As promised at the last meeting, Megan McDonald facilitated a discussion of the proposed Housing Capital Reserve Fund. Megan is an Associate Planner with the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability.

  • Martha Robertson has proposed taking $3M out of general fund to invest in helping solve housing shortage
  • Want to make sure initiative is in sync with County goals for GHG emissions reduction
  • Full proposal going to legislature in March as part of budget process for following year
  • Looking for nimble approach that is as streamlined as possible
  • How do you develop solutions that minimize unanticipated consequences
  • Possible to work with Habitat for Humanity to leverage dollars?
  • What about exploring possible assistance from and cooperation with Green Bank?
  • Jon Jensen: Park Foundation provided grant to Community Foundation to help advance social justice/equity for low-income residents in Tompkins County

October 2017

Sustainability and Energy Management at Ithaca College – Greg Lischke

Greg Lischke, director of energy management and sustainability at Ithaca College, will review the current state of the sustainability and energy initiatives at IC. 

  • Greg arrived at IC in June 2016
  • Climate action plan approved October 2009
  • Goals:
    • 25% by 2015
    • 50% by 2025
    • 100% by 2050
  • Reassessment team review underway – will produce energy master plan:
    • How did we actually do in the first five years?
    • What should we focus on in the next ten years?
    • Are goals and commitments still viable or can they be expedited?
  • Three categories of GHG emissions:
    • Scope 1 – Stationary Sources (mostly natural gas)
    • Scope 2 Electricity (includes 2 MW solar farm in Geneva)
    • Scope 3: Other Indirect (carried out commuting survey – about 50% response rate)
  • Carbon emissions spilt fairly evenly between electricity and natural gas
  • Very little variation over season with electricity use – probably due to A/C
  • Efforts to recue carbon:
    • LED lighting upgrades
    • Building envelope
    • Apartment boiler upgrades
    • Energy audits
    • Sub-metering
    • Community engagement
  • About 75 to 80% of buildings on campus are sub-metered
  • Lighting upgrade with LEDs resulted in 25% electricity use at library
  • Student and community engagement
    • 14 Eco Rep student employees
    • OEMs and interns
    • ENVS & business internships
    • FYRE Connection
    • SLI presentations and open forums
  • Solar farm in Geneva makes up 10% of campus total: 2.9 MW DC
  • Can monitor solar farm output at ithaca.edu/solar
  • Future enhancements and improvements
    • Geothermal – regional or local
    • Future large-scale renewables – solar and wind
    • EV charging stations
    • Improved sub-metering
    • HVAC improvements
    • Retro-commissioning
    • IC Natural Lands carbon sequestration study


Energy Smart Community Update – Charleen Heidt

Charleen Heidt, the ESC community outreach coordinator, will provide an update on the smart meter rollout as well as the services offered as part of this initiative.

  • Met goal of 95% smart meters installed by end of September
  • 11,484 electric meters with 112 opt outs (97%)
  • 6,650 gas meters with 70 opt outs (1.01%)
  • Smart meters increase customer choice
    • Increases ability to manage energy use
    • Allows participation in innovative rate options
    • Provides access to NYSEG Smart Solutions precuts and services
    • Increases ability to reduce carbon footprint
  • Billing using smart meters starts 12/8/17
  • Energy Manager Phase 1 launch on 12/15/17
  • Energy Manager Phase 2 launch on 3/1/18
  • YES Home Solutions Pilot Project competed on 10/1/17 – platform for connecting customers and service providers
  • Final program stats:
    • Home assessment leads: 258
    • Community solar leads: 114
    • Residential solar leads: 171
    • Total leads: 543
  • Solar community conversions were disappointing
  • NYSEG experience:
    • Scaled program needs increased measurement, monitoring quality control
    • Need for increased data management and data functionality
  • Currently gathering data on customer experience
  • NYSEG Smart Solutions launched on 10/2/17
  • Available products: LEDs, advanced power strips, smart thermostats, connected home products
  • Instant rebates on some products
  • Water saving products also available
  • Energy Manager Phase 1 portal available 12/15/17
    • Offers customers usage data (hourly)
    • Provides energy usage in actionable format – disaggregation of consumption: appliances, lighting , heating, laundry, consumer electronics
    • Enables customers to download and save data with third party provider
  • Energy Manager Phase 2 begins on 3/1/18
    • Innovative usage report (mail and email)
    • Information on time of use rate
    • What-if scenarios for rate analysis
    • Alerts: usage, bill, day ahead supply price
    • Time of use rate enrollment
    • Time of use rate adjustment
  • Transition from focus on smart meters to overall Energy Smart Community program
    • Potential energy literacy initiatives: Power House concept, ICSD, GYGB, Collaborative Brainstorm
    • Potential community involvement/outreach: Sciencenter, Physics bus, ongoing community events
    • NYSEG/Avangrid electric vehicle program
    • Expanded communications channel: social media, ESC community advising committee, e-newsletter


Roundtable Updates

  • GYGB almost done negotiating contract with NYSERDA – will be expanding to 8 counties to do outreach to low-income households
  • HeatSmart program involving energy efficiency, insulation and heat pumps) off to good start
  • Solar farm fight in Dryden continues
  • County legislature passed resolution in support of compressions station/alt-pipe solution – unanimous
  • Taitem Engineering is developing industrial energy usage expertise – also working on solar canopy projects
  • Cornell working on getting input on 5-year sustainability plan – also shifting groundskeeping equipment away from fossil fuel and participating in collective higher ed purchase of renewable energy
  • County is working on various measures to get developers and contractors to pay more attention to low carbon energy systems
  • PRI/Museum of the Earth has published teachers handbook on climate change – sending it to teachers across US – also NY Climate Science Clearinghouse shifting to PRI
  • CCETC working with Renewable NY to expand participation in community solar programs – both purchase and subscription models
  • Moratorium on new development in Caroline while Town develops new guidelines so builders will pay more attention to reducing carbon footprint – also Caroline just designated Clean Energy Community by State
  • Ithaca 2030 District piloting real-time energy monitors in 5 buildings – data being used to identify spikes and anomalies as well as reduce energy consumption – will eventually involve water, gas, and electricity

September 2017

New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse – Ingrid Zabel

Ingrid Zabel is the Climate Change Education Manager at PR/Museum of the Earth. She will be presenting on the New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse (NYCCSC), a gateway for policymakers, local planners, and the public to identify and access documents, data, websites, tools, and maps relevant to climate change adaptation and mitigation across New York State. 

  • Clearinghouse a major source of climate change information for New York State – funded by NYSERDA
  • Ingrid is now curator of the clearinghouse – also involves the following from Cornell:
    • Northeast Regional Climate Center: Art DeGaetano and Bill Noon
    • Mann Library IT: Darcy Branchini, Huda Khan, and Jon Corson-Rikert
  • From NESCAUM - Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management
    • Lisa Rector and Allison Guerette
  • From SUNY-ESF
    • Colin Beier and Steve Signell (Frontier Spatial)
  • From NOAA
    • Ellen Mecray, Eastern Region Climate Services Director
  • State-level reporting initiated with ClimAID Report in 2011
    • Projected climate change impacts by sector:
      • Agriculture
      • Coastal Zones
      • Ecosystems
      • Energy
      • Public Health
      • Telecommunications
      • Transportation
      • Water Resources
      • Buildings
    • Responses:
      • Adaptation
      • Mitigation
  • Where can people go to find reliable applied science data and information on climate change in New York State?
  • Website address:
  • Audience for New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse
    • Decision and policy makers, planners, practitioners
    • Researchers
    • General public
  • Organized around three steps
    • Identify problems
    • Investigate solutions
    • Take action
  • Three main kinds of information
    • Maps – to identify climate change impacts and assess vulnerabilities in New York State
    • Data – interactive charts and broad range of datasets and data products
    • Documents – includes reports, articles, plans, and other climate-related resources
  • Very powerful search engine -- allows you to sort by location, date, relevance, and then also apply filters (sectors, formats, specific climate changes, effects, strategies, actions)

Climate Change Mural – Lachlan Chambliss (20 min)

Lachlin Chambliss is a local artist who recently completed a mural downtown on Muslim Culture. He would like to brainstorm with the group about a possible climate change mural.

  • Recently completed the “Muslim mural” at Green Street parking
  • Looking for ideas
  • Suggestions:
    • Energy Efficiency Improvements (positive message vs doom and gloom)
    • Specific details of information sharing (??)
    • Themes of risks and actions
    • Text versus imagery?
    • Ned to pick theme(s) ; e.g. energy vs. social justice vs. nature
    • Recognition of the community and its leaders?
  • He has a database inventory of blank walls around time and is applying for a grant
  • Time-line: start painting in 2 years

August 2017

Dryden Pipeline 2.0 – Irene Weiser (30 min)

Irene Weiser, co-founder of Fossil Free Tompkins and a member of the Caroline Town Board, will briefed the group on the status of the NYSEG compressor case and efforts to identify a group to become a party to the PSC proceeding

  • NYSEG has proposed an alternative to the West Dryden pipeline
  • Grassroots resistance led to establishment of TCAD Energy and Economic Development Task Force
  • Pipeline estimated to cost $17.6 million for 14-30 cold days a year – peak demand for heating
  • Task force reached out to Audrey Zilberman at Public Service Commission and Mark Lynch at NYSEG to begin conversation about non-pipeline alternatives
  • Reliability key issue also existing customers who might need to expand their use of natural gas—industrial processes also essential
  • In addition, new customers have to be taken into account
  • Pressure boosters proposed to provide reliability
  • For existing and essential customers: reduce demand for gas elsewhere
  • For new customers: heat pumps
  • HeatSmart has sparked dramatic growth in last two years – almost new 900 installations since 2015
  • Taitem has carried out study (still in progress) that demonstrates financial viability of heat pumps
  • In part thanks to NYSERDA incentives for ground and air source heat pumps -- $15 million for ground and $10 million for air
  • Tompkins County Energy Road Map calls for all new construction to address goal of 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 – encourages use of EnergyStar products and heat pumps
  • NYSEG petitioned PSC in mid-July for authorization to construct compressor station pilot project
  • Comments can be submitted until September 25
  • Need to identify party to proceeding – after much discussion TCCPI steering committee decided that it would be best not to serve as party
  • Instead party called “Alt-Pipe” would be established – will include Martha Roberson, Ken Schlather, and Irene Weiser
  • Alt-Pipe interested in facilitating successful implementation of non-pipe alternatives such as one NYSEG has proposed in this petition
  • National Grid also has rate case before PSC that uses non-pipeline language
  • David Wooley, attorney in Oakland, CA, contacted Irene two months ago – has agreed to represent Alt-Pipe
  • Served as VP of Energy foundation until 2011
  • Looking for support – will be reaching out to people, encouraging them to become part of Alt-Pipe
  • Besides an attorney, the group will probably need engineer


Climate Change in the News Peter Bardaglio

If it’s August, then it must be time for a review of the year’s climate change developments. Things have gotten especially weird in the Age of Trump. But, thanks to leadership elsewhere, it’s not all bad news.

  • Most sobering climate change news of year so far?
  • Only 5% chance we can limit warming to 2 C and 1% chance it can be kept below 1.5 C 
  • Probably committed to 1.5 C increase even if emissions were to stop immediately
  • U of Washington & UC-Santa Barbara study
  • Projected global average temperature change by 2100 is 3.2 C (5.8 F)
  • 90% chance it will fall within 2.0-4.9 C (3.6-8.8 F)
  • Staying within 2.5 C still seems quite possible if there’s big push on climate action
  • New MIT study: 1.5 billion people live in areas that could become uninhabitable during summer heat waves by 2100 if climate change continues at its current pace
  • Hardest hit regions in northern India, Bangladesh, and southern Pakistan – one-fifth of world’s population
  • Extreme heat more likely to drive migration than flooding
  • Another new report in Lancet says heat waves could kill up to 152,000 people a year across Europe by 2100
  • Europe experienced record-breaking heat wave nicknamed "Lucifer” this summer – extreme heat in Spain, France, Italy, and Balkans sparked wildfires, damaged crops, and strained energy and water supplies
  • Temperatures up to 43 C in some areas (110 F) – rainfall 80% below normal
  • Prolonged drought forced Vatican to turn off all 100 fountains for first time in memory
  • Global emissions have been flattening recently – not going down but also not rising
  • Leveling off in past three years thanks to decline in coal burning by US and China
  • But still a long way to go to decarbonize the world economy – have to get GHG emissions on downward path by 2020
  • If we don’t, could become impossible to contain climate change within safe limits
  • 41B tons of carbon emitted every year from energy consumption and other sources, such as deforestation
  • At this rate only about 15 years before carbon budget used up
  • Analysis by Christiana Figueres et. al. in June 28th issue of Nature – by 2020, we need to do the following
  • Energy:
    • Renewables make up at least 30% of world’s electricity supply – up from 23.7% in 2015
    • No coal-fired power plants approved beyond 2020 – all existing ones being retired
  • Infrastructure:
    • Plans underway in cities and states to fully decarbonize buildings and infrastructures by 2050 – funding of $300B annually
    • Cities are upgrading at least 3% of building stock to zero- or near-zero emissions structures each year
  • Transport:
    • Electric vehicles make up at least 15% of new car sales – major increase from current 1% market share
    • Doubling of mass-transit in cities, 20% increase in fuel efficiencies for heavy-duty vehicles, and 20% decrease in GHG emissions from aviation
  • Land:
    • Land-use policies that reduce forest destruction and shift to reforestation – current net emissions from deforestation make up 12% of global total
    • Need to cut emissions to zero in next decade and create carbon sink by 2030
    • Sustainable agricultural practices to reduce emissions and increase CO2 sequestration
  • Industry:
    • Heavy industry developing plans for increasing efficiencies and cutting emissions, with a goal of cutting emissions by 50% well before 2050
  • Finance:
    • Financial sector is mobilizing at least $1 trillion a year for climate action – most will come from private sector
    • Governments, private banks, and lenders such as World Bank need to issue 10 times more ‘green bonds’ than currently by 2020 to finance climate-mitigation efforts
  • Atmospheric CO2 rose at record rate in 2015 and 2016 – somewhat slower but still unusual rate of increase continuing in 2017
  • Why is this happening even though GHG emissions have leveled off?
  • Are natural sponges – ocean and land – reaching capacity? Like garbage workers going on strike
  • Could be El Nino but it ended in 2016, so why does trend continue in 2017?
  • Last year hottest on record, according to NOAA – report issued earlier this month
  • Also found greenhouse gases and global sea levels at highest levels on record
  • Draft findings of recent National Climate Assessment just as troubling
  • Scientists from 13 federal agencies found that a rapid rise in temperatures since 1980s in US represents warmest period in 1,500 years: "Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emission of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible. There are no alternative explanations."
  • Study published in Science this past June estimated that every 1 C increase in global mean temperature will cost US 1.2% of its economic growth
  • Analysis finds that climate change costs will hit Trump country hardest: drop in crop yields, increased energy costs, coastal damage
  • Sea level in Southeast US rising much faster than global average
  • U of Florida researchers found that from 2011 to 2015, sea level rose six times faster than long-term rate of global increase
  • Biggest jump in Southeast since 1940s – 3/4" of an inch of sea-level rise per year from 2011 to 2015
  • According to May survey by Yale Climate Change Communication Program, 7 out of 10 Americans believe global warming is happening
  • More than half of Americans think global warming is mostly human caused – highest percentage since survey began in 2008
  • Only 1 out of 8 Americans understand that almost all scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening
  • Over half of Americans are “worried” about global warming but only 1 in 6 is “very worried”

July 2017

Energy Smart Community – Charleene Heidt

Charleene Heidt, the ESC Community Outreach Coordinator, provided an update on the smart meter rollout, including the schedule for installation of the smart meters, energy manager, and the expanded YES Home Solutions 2.0.

  • Smart meter installation: 3,045 installed with approximately 126 opt outs (unverified) – about 400 a day, focused on outside meters
  • Want to keep opt-outs below 2%
  • Residential accounts: 35,029
  • Existing solar: 992 (2.8%)
  • Email addresses: 20,022
  • Goal: 500 leads by September
  • Program stats since March 29th:
    • Home assessment leads: 188
    • Community solar leads: 72
    • Total leads so far: 401 (80% of goal)
  • Win for Tompkins County residents, win for local economy and labor, wind for local service provides, win for NYSEG
  • YES Home Solutions is a platform for connecting customers with service providers – available for all NYSEG service customers
  • YES Home Solutions 2.0 will offer additional services such as heat pumps in late 2017 or early 2018
  • Additional products will be offered with instant energy efficiency rebates and enrollment in demand response programs
  • Will simplify sharing of customers’ data with service providers – provides customers with seamless experience and enrollment in customized solutions
  • Energy Manager offers customers access to usage data – hourly, uploaded four times per day
  • Provides energy usage information in actionable format
  • Enables customers to download and share their data with third party providers – available for customers with smart meters
  • Transition from focus on smart meters to overall ESC effort
  • Ithaca City School District initiatives:
    • DeWitt School, then will expand
    • PTA
    • Teachers’ Green Team
  • Increased community involvement and outreach:
    • Sciencenter
    • Physics bus
    • Community events
  • Expanded communications channels:
    • CCETC/ESC blog to launch in August
    • Communications agency will initiate and manage Facebook pages and other social media outlets
  • Need to reach out to different groups in different ways – market segmentation
  • Will return in October with additional updates
  • Karim and Charleen will discuss how to plug GYGB Energy Navigators into Home Solutions


West Dryden Pipeline Rate Case – Irene Weiser

Irene Weiser is a co-founder of Fossil Free Tompkins and a member of the Caroline Town Board. She updated the group on the effort to explore a non-pipeline solution.

  • Proposal to have NYSEG and the Public Service Commission explore a non-pipeline solution came out of the Energy and Economic Development Task Force
  • Made progress until early this year when Audrey Zilbeman left the PSC – initiative floundered without her leadership
  • NYSEG has filed rate case with the PSC to secure financial support for the compressor solution
  • Hope to redirect approved funding for pipeline to the compressor solution
  • NYSEG wants “full support” of communities involved – not clear what that means
  • Could/should TCCPI be the party to enter into case?
  • Public comment through September 25th on this proceeding
  • TCCPI could perhaps take on more of an educational position
  • The steering committee will discuss this question at its next meeting and report back to the group in August


Green Building Policy Project Nick Goldsmith and David West

Nick Goldsmith, the City and Town of Ithaca Sustainability Coordinator, presented an overview of the Green Building Policy Project. Then David West from Randall + West shared their work on the development forecast and building stock survey.

  • Nick: This project focuses on examining energy standards for commercial and residential buildings as well as incentives
  • Funded by Park Foundation and Partners for Places
  • Kicked off in April and will wrap up in early 2018
  • Deliverables:
    1. Process for public comments/advisory board
    2. Establish baseline
    3. Education and outreach
    4. Green building policy study
  • Brought teams in from three cities for peer-to-peer discussions: Fort Collins, Evanston, and Burlington
  • Consultancy team: Randall + West, Taitem Engineering, and Stream Collaborative (lead)
  • NYSERDA will be coming out with stretch code for commercial and residential buildings in October
  • On policy side, looking at range of tools and incentives: building code, environmental review process (includes greenhouse gas emissions), tax abatements, development bonuses)
  • How do we assure that buildings meet standards over time?
  • David: Characterization of existing buildings:
    1. Classifications
      • Property type classification coes
      • Average size
      • Average # of floors
      • Heating type
    2. Energy Use
      • RES and CBECS
  • Expected future buildings
    1. Find trends in existing data by category
    2. Project future years based on past years
    3. Determine possible new projects based on comprehensive plans, housing strategy, and available land
  • Lot more permits issued for renovations than for new buildings
  • Number of overall permits issued for renovations than new buildings
  • Number of overall permits has remained in fairly narrow range since 2014
  • Available data does not match between City and Town of Ithaca
  • Ed Marx: County developed energy projections for different energy focus areas in City and Town – should look at roofs and HAVAC as possible targets
  • David: Looking at ways to connect data on number of permits with info about size of buildings
  • Megan McDonald: What about looking at building age data?
  • Katie Borgella: Should keep in mind limitations of hearing data in property assessment records
  • Nick: What constitutes “major renovation”?
  • David: What are the leverage points?
  • Nick: Important to looks at existing buildings but grant limited to new buildings and major renovations
  • Irene Weiser: Standards and incentives for heating should consider requiring heat pumps for new buildings
  • Perhaps TCCPI should invite Common Council to meet with us to discuss green building code

June 2017

Why The Future Of Building Heating And Cooling Belongs To Heat Pumps -- Presented by Solar Tompkins/HeatSmart

  • Steadily increasing adoption rate for heat pump technology to achieve super-efficient renewable heating and cooling in buildings in Tompkins County
  • Parallels recent efforts and accomplishments by NYSERDA and the regional Renewable Thermal Alliance to support these technologies
  • Heat pump technology can provide greater comfort, can be adapted for a wide range of applications, and is cost-effective, especially in new construction


Space Conditioning With Ground Source Heat Pumps -- Jens Ponikau

Jens Ponikau is the Vice President and Co- Founder of NY-Geothermal Energy Organization. His presentation explained the technology and installation process, and provided real life examples of what geothermal heat pumps achieved in terms of cost and energy savings for Upstate New York customers.

  • Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) technology is making natural gas and oil furnaces obsolete in heating-dominated climates around world
  • Some European countries have already banned fossil fuel furnaces for heating, or have raised efficiency standard to level that fossil fuel furnaces cannot achieve
  • Residential housing sector is second largest greenhouse gas emitter in NYS (after transportation) -- NYS cannot achieve its CO2 reduction mandate without replacing natural gas and oil furnaces with electrically driven heat pumps
  • Need to electrify grid – only way to go completely renewable
  • Geothermal makes it possible to both heat and cool house
  • Heat pump works o basis that expanding gas heats up and compressed gas cools
  • Over 70% of energy consumed by typical single-family home used to meet thermal loads
  • Why would you invest in fossil fuel technology you are trying to get rid of?
  • Technology will be obsolete in 20-30 years -- creates stranded assets
  • More customers will install heat pump technology
  • Electrification of the heating sector same as electrification of the transportation sector
  • Electricity is the only energy medium that can be decarbonized with current technologies
  • Electrically driven heat pumps – ground and air sourced – are currently the only choice to achieve our goals
  • New homes in Denmark and Germany have to use renewable energy now – cannot replace old, existing gas and oil-burning furnaces with new ones
  • California wants all new homes to be net zero by 2020
  • NYC now requires heat pumps in all public buildings


Residential Air Source Heat Pumps: What Works? – Bruce Harley

Bruce Harley is an air-source heat pump technical consultant. His presentation examined heat pumps that are suitable for cold-climate applications, focusing on new construction.

  • Four questions to address:
    • WHY would I choose an air‐source heat pump?
    • WHAT equipment works well in cold climates?
    • HOW do you design systems properly?
    • WHAT are some common problems that can be avoided to ensure high efficiency?
  • Air source heat pumps are essentially refrigerators
  • Lots of ASHPs in northern climates in 1980s
  • Central systems suffered from duct leaks and air flow/charge problems – lots of complaints about systems “blowing cold air”
  • Electric resistance heat compensated – led to very low average system efficiency
  • People believe ASHPs don’t work in cold climates
  • Ductless split heat pumps have been in mass production over 40 years
  • Steady advances in this technology:
    • System size – wider range
    • Flexibility (heating, multi‐head, slim/horizontal ducts, etc.)
    • Efficiency increase due to variable speed “inverter drive”
    • Climate (optimizing for cold weather heating)
    • Similar features in conventional central‐ducted systems
  • Built‐in electric resistance backup heat now rare
  • Ductless heat pumps used in variety of situations:
    • Offset existing heating source: oil, LP, electric resistance
    • Complete replacement
    • Exclusively heat efficient new homes or major renovations
    • Isolated zone (addition or comfort issue)
  • Why choose a heat pump?
    • High efficiency – low operating cost
    • Better for the environment
    • Easy to zone
    • Affordable to install
      • $3500‐5000 for single‐zone ductless system
      • $2500‐4000/zone for multi‐head
    • No gas line (no monthly fee)
  • What type of equipment works well in cold climates?
  • NEEP Cold Climate Listings (neep.org)
    • High heating efficiency rating: HSPF >10
    • High efficiency in cold weather: COP > 1.75 at 5F outdoor temperature
  • Also look for:
    • High capacity (output) at low outdoor temps
    • Rated operation at ‐5F, ‐15F, or lower
  • How do you design systems properly?
  • Make sure to do actual load calculations
  • Use equipment spec’s at design conditions
  • Zoning: Avoid oversizing many small zone
    • Use zones strategically
    • Slim/horizontal duct systems for 2‐4 bedrooms
    • Most single family homes: 2‐3 zones; condos: 1‐2
  • Isolated room – separate zone
  • Modest oversize with strategic zones is fine
  • “Floor mount” good for larger spaces
    • Better heat distribution, esp. first/lower floor
    • Or, ducted system with floor registers
  • What are some common problems to avoid to ensure high efficiency?
  • Follow manufacturers instructions carefully
    • Refrigerant charge adjustments if needed
    • Flare fittings, purge system, start‐up process
  • Keep above snow line – wall brackets
    • Best if mounted to foundation, or wall in less noise‐sensitive area
  • Surge protector at service disconnect
  • Rodent‐proof entry
  • Wall‐mounted control for larger spaces – senses temperature at control, not in return air
  • Fan speed: auto, avoid constant‐fan settings
  • Avoid “auto” heating / cooling setting
  • Avoid temperature setbacks (manual or auto) – doesn’t save energy (heating especially)
    • “Set and forget” at comfort level
  • “Eco” or “efficient home”– installer setup


Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy in New York State - Scott Smith

Scott Smith, senior program manager at NYSERDA, discussed NYSERDA’s recently released “Renewable Heating and Cooling Policy Framework” that lays out a proposed approach to growing the renewable heating and cooling market in NY, including air-source and ground-source heat pumps.

Renewable Heating & Cooling Policy Framework – Options to Advance Industry Growth and Markets in New York published February 7, 2017

  • Policy Framework’s Three Pillars
    • Reducing Technology Costs and Lowering Barriers
    • Renewable Heating & Cooling Mandates
    • Incentives
  • Goal: move the sector from niche to mainstream
  • Renewable Heating & Cooling (RH&C) has a large technical potential in New York (~700 TBtu out of statewide HVAC annual load of ~1,000 TBtu)
  • Today, RH&C occupies a niche position: current cost-effective RH&C resource of 41 TBtu
  • Only 4% of the State’s 1,000 TBtu load could be met cost effectively with RH&C today
  • Combination of deep cost reductions and value monetization is needed to increase the RH&C potential to a level where mainstream adoption can occur
  • NYSERDA’s near-term strategies focus on reducing costs and lowering barriers
  • Two RH&C related Clean Energy Fund investment plans approved in May 2017
    • Renewable Heating and Cooling
    • Clean Energy Products
  • Approximately $60M over 5 years -- initiatives include:
    • GSHP Rebate
    • ASHP upstream incentive
    • Community Renewable Heating and Cooling
    • Campus GEO and Technical Assistance
    • Drilling cost reduction challenge
  • https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Clean-Energy-Fund
  • Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) Rebate
    • $15 million incentive for market continuity
      • $1,500 per cooling ton for small-scale systems (≤10 tons)
      • $1,200 per cooling ton for large scale systems (>10 tons)
    • Open through June 30, 2019 or until funds are committed
    • All sites that pay the electric SBC/CEF are eligible
    • Rebate paid to qualified designers or installers
    • https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Ground-Source-Heat-Pump-Rebate
  • New York Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) Program provides $10.95M in participating installer incentives
    • $500 incentive directly to qualified contractors for each ASHP installed meeting the NEEP Cold Climate Air-Source Heat Pump (ccASHP) Specification  
    • Installation sites that pay the electric SBC/CEF are eligible
    • Targeting Displacement of Oil/Propane/Electric Heating Systems
    • PON 3653 should be available August 2017
  • Geothermal Campus Challenge: NYSERDA and NYPA are collaborating to launch a technical assistance and financing program for public and not-for-profit colleges and universities that pay SBC
    • The program will provide preliminary screenings for up to 75 colleges and universities to identify those that are most technically and economically attractive for installation of ground source heat pumps.
    • The program will cost-share 50% of the costs (up to $125k) to a select subset of the screened program participants to provide ASHRAE Level 2 audits and conceptual design services for ground source heat pump projects.
    • NYPA will provide up to $100MM in financing for facilities that elect to proceed to the implement identified ground source heat pump projects. 
  • Community Renewable Heating and Cooling
    • Community procurement program designed to promote application of high-performing building envelopes, air source and ground source heat pumps, solar thermal, and biomass systems in single family homes and small businesses
    • Reduces drill mobilization costs, allows installers to experience economies of scale
    • Based on successful county-level RH&C campaign in Tompkins County, called HeatSmart Tompkins
  • NYSERDA will provide direct financial support of approximately $1M to 3 to 5 communities to launch multi-year campaigns to select qualified installers and negotiate a reduced price for campaign enrollees
  • NYSERDA will also assist communities in working with local banks to develop financing offers for community campaign participants and universities to staff campaigns, develop the local workforce and engage university staff as campaign enrollees
  • Program includes funding of approximately $300K per year to pilot strategies to increase participation of low-to-moderate Income residents.
  • Concepts for possible mandates:
    • Lead by Example (State-owned buildings)
    • Stretch Code (New construction and major renovations)
    • Net Zero Energy Code (New construction and major renovations)
    • NYS Renewable Heating & Cooling Goals
  • Key venues for consideration of financial incentives for RH&C:
    • Electricity Rate Reform
    • Clean Energy Standard (T-RECs)
    • Clean Energy Fund
    • Utility Energy Efficiency Programs

May 2017

Changing Climate and Changing Energy Infrastructure: Implications for Regional Land and Water Conservation Efforts – Andy Zepp

Andy Zepp, the executive director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, discussed the impact of climate change and the shift to clean energy on conservation efforts.

  • Tourism major economic driver in Finger Lakes
  • Toxic algae a significant problem in five out of ten lakes – showing up even in treated water
  • Run off from phosphorus rich soil largely result of industrial agriculture: corn and dairy, for example
  • Also possible to have problems with smaller farms – runoff from parking lots critical issue
  • Localized storms increasing in frequency as result of climate change – 70% increase in extreme precipitation events in NYS since the 1950s
  • Climate change only one among many factors affecting land and water conservation – large increasing population of deer, for example
  • FLLT working on ensuring connectivity among preserved areas through Emerald Necklace
  • Siting of renewal energy another important issue – local land use planning needs more attention
  • Planning process needs to get ahead of curve


  • County Planning Dept. putting together guidance on local regulation of renewables – also working n mapping sites that make most sense
  • Lots of parallels between renewables siting and affordable housing
  • Utilities coming out in October with maps of siting capacities
  • Question of triage: what are we willing to accommodate to halt acceleration of climate change?

What The Land Trust Does:

    1) Nature Preserves

    2) Land Purchases

    3) Conservation Easements

Clean Energy Communities Program – Terry Carroll

Terry Carroll is the Clean Energy Communities coordinator and energy educator at the

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. He shared information about the Clean Energy Communities Program, a new NYSERDA initiative, and solicited ideas from the group about how municipalities that become designated clean energy communities can use their CEC grant money.

  • Clean Energy Communities a NYSERDA program for counties, cities, towns, and villages
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County awarded contract to manage clean energy certification in the five-county region
  • Need to complete 4 out of 10 high impact action items:
    • Benchmarking
    • Clean Energy Upgrades
    • LED Street Lights
    • Clean Fleets
    • Solarize
    • Unified Solar Permit
    • Energy Code Enforcement Training
    • Climate Smart Communities
    • Community Choice Aggregation
    • Energize NY Finance
  • Action items completed at county level cannot be counted at city, town, or village level
  • We work with a point person in a municipality – identify the items, develop a plan for action
  • Eighteen grants available – four large and fourteen small
  • Tompkins county has received first $250K grant in Southern Tier
  • Grants do not require local cost share – must be used for actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Up to 25% available as advance payment – rest becomes available as milestones completed
    • Six grant selection criteria:
    • Reasonable timeframe for project proposed
    • Positive direct impact on energy use/GHG emissions
    • Other sustainability benefits
    • Efforts made to collaborate with other municipalities and transfer knowledge
    • Innovative and/or replicable approach
    • Leverage public/private dollars and/or generate economic development benefits
  • County splitting $250K into two pots: one for EV vehicle fleet and charging station and another for Business Energy Navigator program
  • Latter is an early entry goal driven process to identify developers and business owners looking at renovations, expansions, new developments
  • Involves a design charette with companies like Taitem to see what's possible – they want to go with Energy Star, 2030 District, zero emissions – what kind of recognition they can receive?
  • Also small pot for hiring energy professional for six months or apply for energy audit
  • Combination of County, TCAT and NYSERDA funds – 2 1/2 year program
Questions for TCCPI:
  • For municipalities across the Southern Tier - What grant ideas should they consider if they become designated?
  • What's innovating/replicable and has a BIG impact on GHG emissions, but would require more funding?
  • Irene: Energy Navigator idea – to encourage moving forward rather than towards a pipeline, as in Lansing
  • A municipal energy navigator to help building proposals – In Caroline, our code enforcement is spread pretty thin; we don't have a planning board
  • To further the work of HeatSmart, help people think about how to replace water heaters
  • Sara Hess: 10-20 EVs isn't going to make a ton of change by itself – does it make sense to add a public promotion, to encourage something like 200 private EV's
  • Leverage the private money to get involved
  • Katie: We've been selected to be an EV promoter, installing public charging stations, etc. – the county vehicles will have a big impact, in public perception and how much actual driving is happening
  • Megan: County has done a lot of work on its buildings but we haven't done much on transportation.
  • Brian: Make heat pumps the main strategy for homes
  • Sara: Prevent low income, deteriorating rural homes from going off the market – often it's a financial problem
  • Homeowner can’t afford to fix foundation, address water issue, new roof – housing stock is coming off the market
  • Affordable housing is one of our most important housing issues – can we couple it with energy issues?
  • Sarah Z: Could we partner with Finger Lakes Climate Fund?
  • Irene: Low Income Forum on Energy (LIFE): USDA program has significant money to repair these rural homes and provide low cost financing
  • But I would question how much rural housing really is affordable, given the transportation costs
  • DEC is looking for ideas of how to spend the $127 million VW paid to the state – has to be used for transportation.
  • Jon: Some conversation is happening around high efficiency busses, public transportation
  • Ed Marx: In India, Sweden, and Germany, all new vehicles sold must be electric by 2030
  • Jon: GE is putting in14K charging stations in Northern California
  • Sara Hess: Worth taking a look at Paul Hawkin’s Draw Down – 100 best ideas for addressing climate change
  • Ranks the ideas from 1-100 based on research about what makes the most difference

April 2017

The Datalogger Project: Enabling Sustainable Communities – Howard Chong

Howard Chong, assistant professor of economics and sustainability at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration and Faculty Fellow at the Atkinson Center for Sustainable Future, provided an update on his Datalogger Project, which seeks to improve residential energy efficiency in the community.

  • Is there an easy, cheap way to tell which houses need energy efficiency retrofits?
  • Datalogger allows one to identify houses for about $5 – can find leaky homes qand then fix them
  • Since 1980s national labs have identified energy upgrades as cost effective
    • In leaky buildings 9about 25-50%)
    • Savings pay for themselves if done correctly
    • Overall savings of about 10% of US heating and cooling: $10 billion
  • Less than 1% of homes have been retrofitted
  • “Old way” to identify homes: $500 & two hours of labor
  • “New way” with datalogger: $5 or less (continuous, automatic with zero labor)
  • How quickly does house lose heat?
  • Project includes 383 homes – lots of heterogeneity
  • Temperature easier to relate to than energy efficiency
  • Just completed 30 houses in same neighborhood – all houses built around same time
  • Developing complete process to measure and analyze temperature data
  • Houses that are leakier lose their heat more quickly at night
  • Dataloggers collect data for two weeks – not 100% effective but a lot easier to scale up than the usual energy audits
  • Possible to characterize all 20,000 homes around Ithaca in two hours
  • Partnering with the Longmont, CO Public Library to carry out community thermostat experiment
  • “Vulnerable homes”: not just retrofits – touches on social justice dimension
  • Identifies unsafe homes and those that would be hurt by pricing reforms
  • Fossil fuel goal will be much cheaper with retrofits
  • Almost no path to “fossil free” without retrofits
  • With retrofits, homes will be safer, more comfortable, and cheaper
  • Data logger and temperature methods tell you which houses should be a priority
  • Targets houses rather than apartment buildings – duplexes possible, though
  • Doesn’t address issue of getting people to carry out retrofits after houses identified
  • One possible next step: working withreal estate agents and residential energy score project
  • Will also work with renters – what about using with commercial sector?
  • Not great with commercial buildings because they are “core dominated”


Beyond the Climate March – Reed Steberger & Jane Whiting

Reed Steberger is the assistant coordinator of TCCPI and program director at the Multicultural Resource Center. Reed and Jane Whiting, the TCCPI youth sector representative, recently facilitated an ECO-TCCPI Talking Circle at MRC on race in the environmental movement. They reported on the Talking Circle and their plans going forward for continuing to promote conversations about climate action that recognize the importance of racial justice in the movement.

  • ECO/TCCPI Talking Circle held earlier this month on April 14-15
  • Attendees all under age of 23 – very dynamic exchange of ideas and views
  • Focused on presence of racism in climate change efforts
  • Different levels of racism:
    • Individual/Personal
    • Internalized/White Supremacy
    • Systemic/Institutions
  • Group fairly diverse: total of 12 participants with four individuals of color
  • Talking Circle puts face at center of conversation about climate work
  • Invisible nature of white privilege needs to be confronted
  • Hope to hold another similar event in the fall


Global EconomicTrends in Renewable Energy – Peter Bardaglio

The 2016 numbers on solar and wind development have just been released in several different reports. Some good news here that will hopefully inspire us to do even more!

  • Our Biggest Challenge? Time is not on our side.
  • The good news:
    • Renewable energy and energy efficiency can be quickly scaled-up
    • Accelerating the deployment of renewables will:
    • Fuel economic growth
    • Create new employment opportunities
    • Improve human welfare
    • Contribute to climate-safe future
  • Not so good news:
    • But growth rate for renewables must double to keep global warming under 2°C
    • Need to reduce GHG emissions by 2.6% per year on average to meet the Paris target
    • Around 70% of the global energy supply mix in 2050 would need to be low-carbon
    • Obviously a heavy lift
  • Energy transition affordable but will require additional investments in low-carbon technologies
  • Further significant cost reductions of renewables will be major driver for increased investment
  • Additional investment of $29 trillion needed between now and 2050
  • But reducing impact on human health and mitigating climate change would save 2-6 times more than costs of decarbonization
  • Global renewable power generation capacity last year increased by 161 GW or 9.3%, making 2016 fifth year in a row it has grown 8% or more
  • Dramatic rollback of U.S. energy and climate policies under Trump administration
  • S. has handed leadership over to Asia and Europe – clearly key to reducing GHG emissions
  • Explosive growth in solar
  • Asian economies had largest expansion in solar last year with gain of 50 GW
  • 34 GW came from China alone – more than doubled its solar capacity in 2016
  • Compared to 11 GW in U.S., 8 GW in Japan, and 5 GW in Europe
  • Almost three-quarters of new wind energy capacity was installed last year in just four countries: China (+19 GW); USA (+9 GW); Germany (+5 GW); and India (+4 GW)
  • Brazil continued to show strong growth, with an increase of 2 GW in 2016
  • In the US, renewables made up 99.2% of new electricity generation capacity in Q1 2016
  • Renewables grew from 14% of U.S. electricity in Q1 2015 to 17% in Q1 2016
  • Solar + wind combined grew from 5% to 7%
  • Solar finally reached 1% of U.S. electricity generation, considered to be an important tipping point
  • Coal dropped from 36% to 29%
  • Since 2007 overall world renewable energy capacity has increased dramatically – jumped from 990,000 MW to 2 million MW in 2016
  • Global investment in renewables has shown steady growth for more than a decade, rising from $47 billion in 2004 to a record $305 billion in 2015
  • Dramatic drop in cost of renewable energy production has made it competitive with coal and natural gas – in some cases even cheaper
  • Price of utility-scale solar dropped 62% from 2009 to 2015 and projected to drop another 57% by 2025
  • Renewables have become significant source of new employment around world
  • Renewable energy jobs rose by 5% in 2015 to 8.1 million – an additional 1.3 million in large-scale hydropower
  • Solar PV was the largest single renewable energy employer – 2.8 million jobs, up 11% from 2014
  • S. wind and solar industries employ more than 300,000 workers
  • Wind energy sector employs nearly 90,000 Americans, 20% more than in 2015
  • America's solar industry employs nearly 209,000 workers, compared to about 150,000 jobs remaining in coal
  • Key benefits of doubling renewables:
    • Would limit average global temperature rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (when coupled with energy efficiency)
    • Would avoid up to 12 gigatonnes of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2030 – five times higher than what countries have pledged to reduce through renewable energy in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
    • Would result in 24.4 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030, compared to 9.2 million in 2014
    • Would reduce air pollution enough to save up to 4 million lives per year in 2030
    • Would boost the global GDP by up to USD 1.3 trillion
  • Urgent that we keep pressure up on our elected officials to support the growth of renewable energy and accelerate transition to a clean energy economy

March 2017

Energy Smart Community Survey & Focus Group Results – Rosalyn Bandy, Rich Stedman, and Dylan Bugden

Rosalyn Bandy, the Energy Smart Community Leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and Rich Steadman, Professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell, shared their findings from two different studies: an NSF survey of 2000 households in the community seeking to explore the various factors that might affect the response to the rollout of the smart meter program; and a series of focus group meetings aimed at facilitating better communications around the rollout. Dylan Bugden is a graduate assistant in the Human Dimensions Research Unit in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.

    A. ESC Survey
  • Carried out research on the introduction of smart meters in Tompkins County – research objectives:
  • Evaluate familiarity and trust
  • Understand attitudes and behaviors
  • Evaluate factors that affect attitudes and behaviors
  • Survey of 2000 Tompkins County residents living in “Grid Upgrade Area” – north of Buffalo St. – a random sample
  • GUA demographics
    • Highly educated
    • Mean household of 2.48
    • 7% male
    • Liberal
    • 50% earn more than $100K
    • Predominantly white
    • Nearly all have engaged in some energy saving behavior
  • Research shows low familiarity but generally positive attitude towards utility and use of smart meters
  • Strong minority, however, not positive
  • Trust in utility key factor in roll out of new energy technology
  • Highest levels of tryst that utility will follow government reulations and proect their personal information
  • Lowest level: consider customer needs before changing their service
  • Attitudes complex: cognitive, affective, and behavioral
  • Respondents unlikely not to participate – 10.6% would choose not to participate and 65% would
  • Attitudes toward smart meters tend to be positive (78.8%)
  • Energy analysis tools most likely to be used – smart home technologies least likely to be used
  • “constructs homeowners used to make sense of new technology: familiarity, trust in utility, climate change awareness, price, attitudes towards renewable energy
  • Familiarity and climate change perceptions are strongest factors
  • Factors affecting engagement with enable products: greater familiarity, more positive attitudes, higher income
  • Homeowners with more positive attitudes more likely to use enabled products
  • People’s incomes seems to have little impact except in area of engagement
  • Overall findings:
    • Attitudes generally positive but fragile
    • Most undecided about how they will use enabled products
    • Income probably barrier to using some products
    • Engagement matters:
      • Familiarity is low
      • General sense of transparency
      • Modest/low levels of trust with utility
      • Somewhat unequal balance of risk and benefit
      • Communications might focus on relationship between engagement and climate change attitudes
    B. Focus Groups
  • Focus groups gring data alive through community voices – dig beneath quantitative data
  • Eight to ten people in each group: northside of Ithaca, Southside, CCE staff, Lansing
  • Goal: understand population’s knowledge and perceptions about smart meters
  • Focus groups diverse across groups but less so internally – intentional
  • Questions asked:
    • What would you like to know?
    • How might smart meters benefit you?
    • What concerns do you have?
    • How might you use information
  • Will smart meters eliminate estimated (inaccurate) bills?
  • Who does it benefit? How hard will it be to use? How much time will it take? Will my bill go up?
  • Could help increase renewables, move away from fossil fuels
  • Provides info on household energy use
  • Could make billing more accurate
  • Can help change energy use behavior
  • Helps with connection to smart appliances
  • Concerns involve new technology that might not work – privacy and security concerns
  • Health concerns about radio transmissions
  • Too complicated for average person
  • Impact on employment of meter readers
  • Equity issues
  • Residents clearly have minimal prior knowledge
  • Health and privacy concerns significant
  • Residents concerned about being financially punished
  • Recognize how new technology can contribute to energy conservation
  • We need to be aware of how some people may be disproportionately, negative affected
  • Will be holding public meetings prior to and during rollout: Lansing, Dryden, Groton, Cayuga Heights
  • CCETC website will provide more info
  • Will provide individual smart meter emissions readings *radio frequency levels) upon request
  • Would make sense to do separate studies of renters


NYSEG HeatSmart II – Jonathan Comstock

Jonathan Comstock, the Program Director of HeatSmart II, updated the group on the latest campaign to encourage Tompkins County residents to improve the insulation of their homes and purchase heat pumps.

  • Part of Solar Tompkins – nonprofit
  • Solar Tompkins most successful solarize program in NYS
  • Solar Tompkins & its HeatSmart program are home grown local efforts
  • Volunteer conceived and developed
  • Board members from every town and city
  • Motivated by concerns for climate change and pollution associated with our energy use
  • We focus on solutions, not complaints
  • HeatSmart removes barriers to unleash the strength of individual action:
  • Lower cost
  • Lack of information
  • Confidence in a path forward
  • HeatSmart is a win-win event for residents and the environment alike:
    • Improves comfort and health
    • Lowers operating costs
    • Lowers carbon footprint
  • Residential sector responsible for 21% of carbon emissions In Tompkins County
  • 75% of home energy use is used for home heating, cooling, and hot water
  • More than 70% of that is from fossil fuels
  • Residents need help to understand their options and act
  • Installers need motivation and opportunity to promote the best climate-friendly options
  • Comments from HeatSmart participants:
    • Heat pumps offered comfort, economy, and satisfaction – shared family experience
    • HeatSmart allowed us to take steps that were otherwise daunting
    • New technologies simply explained, known good pricing, ease of choosing an installer with confidence
    • HeatSmart tours helped us learn more about the technology and the experience of having the work done (see www.solartompkins.org)
    • Heat pump cooling in summer was a much bigger plus than we expected
  • Air sealing and insulation important
  • Act of heating a building’s interior actually creates drafts if air-sealing is inadequate
  • So-called ‘stack effect’ is driven by hot air escaping from attics and suction pulling cold air into basements
  • If all leaks in a typical home were combined, they would be equivalent to having a window open every day of the year
  • A quarter of upstate NY homes are 75 years or older
  • 42% of homes have no foundation insulation
  • Almost 7% have no wall insulation
  • Benefits of insulated and air-sealed homes:
    • Save energy and money on your utility bills
    • Improve the interior environment of your home and eliminate common problems
    • Better humidity control
    • Lower chance of ice dams
      on roofs
    • Reduced noise from outside
    • Less pollen, insect, and pest
  • What is a heat pump?
    • Runs on electricity using refrigeration technology
    • Heats in the winter and can switch to cooling in the summer
    • Can pump against the temperature gradient from cold to hot or hot to cold
    • Super energy efficient! (250-350%)
  • Two basic types: Air-Source (ASHP) and Ground-Source (GSHP) heat pumps
  • Replacement of your existing water heater with an ASHP hot water unit can be big bang for your buck, and big carbon footprint reduction (22% of fossil fuel heating in many homes)
  • Best when situated in a semi-conditioned basement – these units will slightly cool the room 1-5 o
  • Three times better efficiency compared to traditional electric heaters – low operating costs
  • For many homes this represents a low cost opportunity to take big step on zero carbon path, and it can pay for itself
  • ASHPs offered through HeatSmart operate down to -13oF and below – evolution of technology dramatic in recent years
  • ASHP Pros:
    • Minimal Infrastructure:
    • Ductless versions have no extra ‘heat distribution’ costs
    • Multiple inside units are all individually controlled
    • Very small ‘footprint’ for equipment and no digging
    • Always provide heating and air-conditioning as well
  • ASHP Cons:
    • Heat distribution can be limited by number of inside units
    • Outdoor compressors exposed to the elements
    • Max BTU output declines at very low temperatures
    • Seasonal energy Efficiency only 250%, lower than for GSHP
  • GSHP Pros:
    • Highest seasonally-averaged energy efficiency (350 to 400%)
    • Takes advantage of existing heat distribution systems
    • NYSERDA incentive of $1,500 / ton (still needs final approval)
    • Heating capacity not affected by outside air temperature
    • Ground-loop system lasts 50 years or more, pumps/compressors indoors
  • GSHP Cons:
    • Substantial adder costs can arise:
    • Vertical loop field drilling, property remediation
    • Heat distribution upgrades (e.g. adapting hydronic systems)
    • Land area requirements greater, more ground disturbance
  • Enrollment is done online at SolarTompkins.org
  • (paper enrollment forms available on request)
  • HeatSmart asks that you initially pick one Installer Partner
    • Pricing is already negotiated and public
    • Majority of enrollees pick and contract with their first choice installer
  • If after first assessment, you feel the need for a second evaluation, then contact HeatSmart Program Director
  • Heat pumps have lowest operating costs – can save significant $$ with heat pumps
  • ASHP has annual cost of $760 and GSHP has annual cost of $650
  • ASHP for average home costs $12,550 to install and GSHP costs $16,800 after NYSERDA incentive
  • Snug Planet, Halco, and EP Environmental are three approved installers for HeatSmart

February 2017

Energy Smart Community Baseline Survey – Charleen Heidt

Charleen Heidt is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Energy Smart Community. She presented an overview of the results from the recent Energy Smart Community Baseline Survey.

  • As part of the Energy Smart Community, NYSEG baseline survey conducted to determine:
    • Consumer acceptance of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)  and innovative rate structures
    • Usage propensities for a variety of new distributed energy resources (DER) products and services
    • Optimal ways to communicate with customers
  • Online survey administered by Cornell’s Survey Research Institute
  • To what extent is survey sample skewed because online? Only “completes” used in the final analysis
  • Segmented Tompkins County residents in terms of their attitudes towards energy, energy use, climate change, etc.
  • Segment #1: 43% of Tompkins County (vs. 16% nationwide) “convinced and committed” regarding climate change – well educated, primarily professionals (35%) and white collar (21%) and more retirees (27%) than national data; they engage in the highest number of conservation activities
  • Segment #2: Parents concerned about climate change – 29% of Tompkins County vs. 38% nationwide
  • Segment #3: Working class and/or student pragmatists – 17% of Tompkins County vs. 29% nationwide
  • Segment #4: Unconvinced traditionalists – motivated by cost savings – above average number of conservation activities
  • When asked, “How important would you say energy conservation is in way it affects your daily purchase choices and activities?” – Energy conservation is a stronger driver of purchase decisions and daily activities for TC residents
  • Environmental concerns are strong energy conservation drivers for Tompkins County residents
  • Economic drivers almost as important as environmental concerns
  • Unusual to have two drivers almost equal – nationally, economic drivers much stronger
  • 63% strongly agree and 19% agree that climate change is real and primarily due to manmade causes – compared to 27% (strongly agree) and 37% (agree) nationally
  • Residents think climate change primarily caused by truck and car GHG emissions
  • Only 8% think home energy use is the number one man-made cause of global warming or climate change
  • TC residents have already engaged in energy efficiency activities or plan to do so in the future: 77% changed behavior at home to save energy and 56% replaced incandescent bulbs with LEDs (not CFLs)
  • Advance meter infrastructure findings: less than one-third know what smart meters are/do,with Tompkins County residents more aware than others in NYSEG service territory (31% vs 19%)
  • Only 8% have heard of smart meters and are very familiar with what they do
  • Small portion (less than 10%) dislike the idea of a smart meter, being primarily concerned about privacy and data security
  • 26% of that group (8%) are worried about how it might affect personal or family’s health
  • Innovative rate plan interest: about half of Tompkins County NYSEG customers interested in time of use (TOU) plan
  • Enabling technology leads to interest in TOU rate option and optimization
  • Of those neutral or unlikely to participate in TOU -- cost savings as small as 10% or less increases incentive enough to increase likely participation
  • 23% are likely to purchase solar PV vs. 9% who already have
  • Emails and monthly bill inserts are the best ways to communicate, followed by other electronic options
  • Key findings:
    • Energy attitudes
      • Environmental concerns are key value and behavioral drivers for TC residents
      • NSYEG has the opportunity to increase perceived value by providing products and services that are aligned with these attitudes
    • AMI awareness
      • As AMI awareness is relatively low, there is an opportunity for education that informs the customers and helps create advocates for prodcuts and services that are aligned with their stated values
      • For the less than 10% of customers who are skeptical of AMI, privacy, security and trust are the top reasons. NSYEG’s present brand equity is critical to mitigate these concerns.
    • Interest in TOU
      • There is a strong interest in TOU rates
      • Enabling technology and potential cost savings will further increase opt-in rates.
    • Communication preferences
      • NYSEG presently has customer-preferred communication channels to support the increased awareness, engagement and adoption as the Company becomes the Distributed System Platform Provider
    • Distributed energy usage
      • As would be expected, given the attitudes and values of Tompkins County customers, there is a higher level of DER engagement and propensity for adoption.


NYSEG and Alternatives to the West Dryden Pipeline – Irene Weiser

Irene Weiser, a member of the Caroline Town Board and the TCAD Task Force on Energy and Economic Development, updated the group on the results of the Task Force’s discussion with NYSEG regarding alternatives to the West Dryden pipeline and she facilitated a discussion about next steps.

  • Movement from proposed natural gas pipeline in Dryden to renewable energy alternatives
  • Residents along West Dryden Rd. notified in May 2014 of NYSEG plans for 10-inch steel natural gas pipeline
  • Led to grassroots activism:
    • Door-to-door canvassing – don’t sign easement agreement
    • Set up meeting with eminent domain attorney to educate all
    • Lawn signs, website, etc.
  • Advocated for heat pumps as viable alternative
  • Presented to town boards, economic development groups, etc.
  • Fractivists attended county committee meetings such as planning and economic development
  • Wrote letters and op eds for local newspapers
  • Pushed for no new natural gas: more than 75 people at County Legislature meeting after COP21
  • Encouraged formation of Energy and Economic Development Task Force (EEDTF)
  • Key turning point: learned that new pipeline was for “peak demand”
  • $17.8 million for about 14-30 days per year
  • Encouraged public comments on EEDTF report
  • Discussed alternatives to pipeline with PSC chair
  • Spoke at NYSEG rate case public hearing in Binghamton (Fall 2015)
  • Joined rate case as party, cross examined NYSEG and PSC staff about alternatives
  • Parallel actions promoting heat pumps as alternative for Maplewood and other development projects
  • EEDTF report issued in June 2016 – calls for alternatives, requests meetings with NYSEG and PSC
  • EEDTF got Chair Zibelman to come to Ithaca for a high-level meeting in July, followed by a meeting in Albany on Nov. 9 and a meeting of several engineers from both "sides"
  • Continued conversations in December and January, among EEDTF, the PSC, and NYSEG resulted in Zibelman telling NYSEG what they needed to do
  • NYSEG engineers agreed that small compressor station is possible alternative
  • Organized large grassroots communications effort to push NYSEG and PSC
  • NYSEG then issued letter proposing alternatives
    • Seeks approval for compressor station to meet reliability concerns – would continue moratorium on natural gas expansion in Lansing
    • RFP to increase energy efficiency, decrease demand, and pursue alternative hearing sources
    • Ask towns to change building codes
  • New developments:
    • PSC commissioners leaving in mid-March
    • Power plant devaluation
    • Lansing concerns over economic development
    • Lansing lawsuit vs. NYSEG/PSC demanding natural gas?
    • Decision on alternative – when?
    • Need to be ready so developers choose heat pumps, not propane
  • Next steps:
    • Energy confab sponsored by park Foundation helped spark strategic thinking
    • Media: report on heat pumps already in use
    • Lansing outreach

January 2017

Cornell Climate Neutral Campus Options – Bob Howarth

Bob Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell, presented the University’s recent report on the options for achieving its goal of climate neutrality by 2035.

  • Presented on behalf of Senior Leaders Climate Action Group (SLAG)
  • Campus committed to goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2035
  • In March 2016 Provost charged SLAG with developing study of options – not easy to do – will take lot of creativity and $$
  • Three sections in report:
    • Solutions for evaluating projects
    • Solutions for today
    • Solutions for tomorrow
  • New information & updated financial analysis
  • Also new tools for valuing projects – not just economic
  • Important to account for methane leakage
  • Cornell central heating system switch from coal to natural gas in 2011
  • Substantially less CO2 but methane became key issue
  • Assessing climate impacts of methane emissions follows approach developed by Bob Howard in 2015
  • Cornell’s natural gas comes from PA – shale gas – very high methane emissions
  • Social cost of carbon – also economic toll of climate change impacts
  • Quadruple bottom line project analysis: 1) purpose; 2) people; 3) prosperity; and 4) planet
  • Solutions for today recommendations:
    • Campus engagement – ensure all students graduate with climate literacy competency
    • Build high-performance buildings – modify capital projects approval to incorporate quadruple bottom line – expand energy conservation initiative
    • Increase EV capacity
  • Solutions for tomorrow recommendations:
    • Heating and powering solutions – what’s feasible? At what scale?
    • Serious challenges: high energy demand and extreme weather solutions; current low cost of fossil fuels; reducing energy demand of campus buildings
    • Opportunities: advancement of Cornell’s academic & land grant mission:; reduced financial exposure to increasingly unstable fossil fuel resources
  • Examined wide range of approaches: earth source heat: WWS; biomass; air and ground source heat pumps; nuclear; business as usual + carbon credits
  • Earth source heat and WWS have lowest operating costs (excludes capital costs)
  • Not sure earth source heat will work – won’t proceed without community support
  • Capital costs for all of the solutions very high -- external sources of funding for these efforts offer the only apparent way to pay for them without major disruptions to teaching mission
  • Cornell should seek partnerships with local, state and federal government, private corporations, and non-profit foundations
  • Building of consortium of engaged partners should begin immediately – could be great benefit of the Cornell commitment to carbon neutrality
  • Could enhance local economy and magnify impact through this demonstration of small community achieving carbon neutrality
  • Economic risks associated with “business as usual” including a vulnerability to volatility in fossil-fuel based energy prices and potential federal carbon charges or cap-and-trade regulations
  • Where Cornell cannot reduce all net emissions to zero, pursue mission-linked carbon offsets that strengthen local resilience
  • Offsets should be framed as more than additional burdens – offer unique and important opportunities for multidisciplinary research and community partnership
  • Energy storage significant missing piece of report – also not a lot of attention paid to life cycle analysis


Roundtable Updates on 2016 Accomplishments – All

The group shared two or three of their organization’s top achievements regarding climate protection and clean energy in 2016 as well as a brief preview of plans for 2017.

  • Sarah Hess: Planning for Energy Expo/Fair
  • Chuck Geisler: West Dryden pipeline opposition and participation in energy smart community project
  • Bob Howarth: Working with County on methane emissions and effort to bring it to state level
  • Sarah Brylinsky: Quadruple analysis in report had very positive impact on other higher ed institutions through AASHE network
  • Irene Weiser: Participation on Energy and Economic Development Task Force source of inspiration – work on stopping power plant conversion to natural gas fed into this – promoting community choice aggregation – petition drive and yard signs in support of Black Oak Wind Farm
  • Andy Germain: Working with Bert Bland on improving energy efficiency of buildings at Cornell
  • Jim Armstrong: Climate Changers project – also Good for Business once again approved as B-Corp
  • Humera Oasim: Working on climate action in Pakistan
  • Bert Bland: Four new solar farms for total of 10MW – now 7% of Cornell’s annual electricity consumption
  • Reed: work on convergence of racial and climate justice movements
  • Roxanne Marino: Involvement at grass roots level with energy issues, esp. HeatSmart – interested in helping to develop more unified approach
  • Kimberly Anderson: Very happy to join Cornell Sustainability Offfice
  • Shad Ryan: Working with Krys Cail on cooperative solar model
  • Charleen Heidt: Wonderful opportunity to bring her marketing expertise to Energy Smart Community
  • Briana Amoroso: Finishing up her MA on sustainability engineering – working at Taitem on NYSEG demonstration project and helping with Ithaca 2030 District energy and water baseline project
  • Carol Anne Barsody: Grateful to join Ithaca community this past year and become new at-large member of TCCPI steering committee
  • Rena Scroggins: 76West clean energy competition – helping to support REV goals
  • Guillermo Metz: Excited about work on County Energy Road Map – would love to see umbrella group coming out of this work – will be launching another solarize campaign in March, Go Solar
  • Katie Borgella: County Energy Road Map and update of GHG Emissions Inventory – looking forward to developing more detailed County energy strategy and electric car infrastructure
  • Andrew Gil: New green birthing facility at Cayuga Medical Center and LEED certification for Park Foundation office – participation on TCCPI steering committee and Ithaca 2030 District advisory board
  • Peter Bardaglio: Establishment of Ithaca 2030 District; continuing to make progress on Black Oak Wind Farm; board participation at New Roots and Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming
  • Ed Marx: County leadership on transition to clean energy; expansion of EV fleet
  • Nick Goldsmith: Completion of Residential Energy Score Project and possibility of statewide dissemination; this coming year: Green Building Policy project
  • Krys Cail: GreenStar treasurer and DE2 model for shared solar
  • Liz Thomas: Implementing solar law in Ulysses and town planner’s work on Residential Energy Score project – purchase of town hybrid vehicle – education of local government officials on clean energy issues – new heat pubmp for Ulysses town hall
  • Jan Rhodes Norman: Completion of GreenStar solar farm; having Local First Ithaca become district management entity for Ithaca 2030 District; participation on Finger Lakes Reuse board, especially opening of new facility
  • Megan McDonald: Working with Bob Howarth on methane emissions analysis for County; coming year: getting County certified as Clean Energy Community
  • Brian Eden: Helping to develop better analysis of heat pumps to demonstrate improved GHG gas emissions with new, financially viable technology
  • Gay Nicholson: Finger lakes Climate Fun raised record amount of $$ last year – awarded first heat pump grant; providing regional groups vehicle for collaboration on sustainability through Sustainable Tompkins


TCCPI Priorities for 2017 – Peter Bardaglio

At its meeting earlier this month, the TCCPI Steering Committee identified the following priorities for 2017:

    1. Growing the 2030 District
    2. Supporting the County’s Development of an Energy Strategy
    3. Continuing the Youth Climate Justice Program
    4. Tracking Federal Policy on Climate and Energy
    5. Disseminating the TCCPI Model in the Region
  • The group provided feedback on these goals
  • On #2:
    • How do we pay for it?
    • Energy Smart Community
    • HeatSmart Tompkins
    • Green Building Policy
  • On #3: Need to include state policy
  • On #4: Focus on university and college towns – for example, Onondaga, Monroe, and Erie