to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

November-December 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 20093
February 2009
January 2009


Energy Audits and the Home Owner: Jerone Gagliano, Director of Energy Services, PSD

  • Education of the homeowner is critical – need to get them engaged in the process of making their residence more energy efficient, starting with the energy audit
  • According to market research, losing money is a more important driver than saving money
  • Measurable improvement in energy performance is another key factor
  • Important to take a whole-house perspective in assessing the issues effecting energy performance and propose the most effective solution
  • Performance testing necessary to demonstrate measurable results
  • Performance testing also assures customer that they have a safe, comfortable, and efficient building when work is completed
  • Home audit usually costs about $750-1000 but companies usually charge around $350 – they’re looking to capture the retrofit business that follows audit

Residential Energy Benchmarking with Earth Aid: Dominic Frongillo, EnergySmart Communities Interim Coordinator

  • Dominic reviewed the idea behind Earth Aid and how it operates as an online tracking tool for individuals, providing information about state and federal incentives for energy efficiency retrofits as well as rewarding energy savings with coupons, deals, and savings at local businesses
  • The pilot project will involve getting individual members of TCCPI signed up and using Earth Aid along with Green Energy Compass
  • By comparing the two software tools, we can determine the strengths and weaknesses of each
  • What are the larger goals we are seeking to achieve with a comparative analysis of Earth Aid and Green Energy Compass? How will they perform in terms of their impact on homeowner energy consumption?
  • The group discussed various ways to carry out the pilot project, including the possibility of subdividing into three groups: one that uses only Earth Aid, another that uses only Green Energy Compass, and a third that uses both
  • It was decided that the Steering Committee will develop an explicit plan with clear goals and bring the proposal back to the larger group at our next monthly meeting


Landlords Association of Tompkins County: Herbert Dwyer (President, LATC & CEO, ASI Renovations)

  • Two ways to get landlords to act:
    • Carrot: economic, creative financing options (this is preferable and highly encouraged!)
    • Stick: law, mandate (not our most effective took for mobilizing landlords)
  • Over 100 members with, on average, about 40 to 60 properties each
  • Energy efficiency and energy audits are costly to landlords, especially when they own multiple properties
  • First steps:
    • Identify properties where landlord pays for heat
    • Target small-scale landlords
    • Don’t finance on the backs of taxpayers
    • Take advantage of the fact that buildings (and landlords) are aging; new generation coming into the picture in the next 5, 10 years as properties change hands – major opportunity: put a package together now to make buildings more efficient
  • LATC is interested in exploring a partnership with TCCPI in order to work on this issue together
  • Major barriers include:
    • NYSERDA MPP changed (not as beneficial anymore)
    • Small margin, small capital budget to begin with – any expenditures go toward major priorities (apt. destroyed, furnace/roof replacement, etc.)
    • Debt to income ratio: making energy improvements requires landlords to take out loans, which makes it harder to acquire more properties (more properties is more security and success for the landlord) *assessment would be more appealing that loan
  • Ed Marx and Katie Borgella are working with Barbara Lifton to draft language for a bill that would enact policy to extend energy efficiency programs to businesses and commercial properties in addition to residential homeowners
  • Landlords like to keep things as simple as possible – energy efficiency creates more work, more complexity in their day-to-day operations
  • There will be a group of early adopters within LATC who will jump on this, the rest will follow
  • Begin by targeting students/young people (who, statistically speaking, use more resources and energy than any other demographic)
  • Opportunity for LATC to partner with Cornell to educate landlords about occupant behavior and how to incentive/reward positive behavior related to energy consumption
  • We need to make landlords’ role clear in the energy efficiency challenge
  • Green certification for landlords? Green rating for rental properties?

Co-Gen District Heating Options for Tompkins County: Bruce Abbott

  • Working to create a self-sustaining energy economy in TC – green jobs, green economy, energy efficiency
  • Hopes to develop multi-family units for Cornell employees – quality, affordable, sustainable housing on campus (therefore, must fit in with carbon neutrality goal)
  • District heating/cogeneration – rather than one building one boiler – is a way to accomplish this feat using natural gas and other biomass fuel sources
  • Working with Danish Board of District Heating to learn and build relationship – hoping to get them to collaborate with TC (visiting the area to do assessment and advice)
  • Many sensible/viable opportunities for the use of district heating in the city (police office, library, parking garages, the Commons, etc.) – costs taxpayers $5 million annually to pay for electricity – these buildings could be tied together through district heating
  • Case Study: Arnot-Ogden Hospital has biomass system to provide heat and hot water, designed by Honeywell who guaranteed $500,000 in savings over the next year (Honeywell will eat the difference if they’re off)
  • COWI is coming to Ithaca to help Bruce assess possibilities and create a plan
  • CCE is soon expanding their building, will pilot district heating systems
  • CCE: Annual Breakfast Nov. 18th – Biomass discussion (all are welcome, Ken will send details)
  • Overall goal: Boost Local Economy, Create Green Jobs, Enhance Energy Efficiency
    • Manufacture and distribute district heating systems
    • Create domestic capability to deliver this service
    • Leverage what Danes have learned and perfected over the past thirty years and apply to Tompkins County

Earth Aid: Dominic Frongillo

  • Online tracking tool for individuals, incentivizes and rewards energy savings with coupons, deals, savings at local businesses
  • Start thinking about how their work fits with our goals and what we want to achieve
  • TCCPI, CCE, and PSD planning to meet and discuss, create plan of action


Airport Sustainable Master Plan: Bob Nicholas, Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport and Charlie McDermott, C&S Companies

  • First green master plan for any U.S. airport – as a result of this initiative, ten other airports have moved in this direction
  • Other airports include Denver, Seattle, and Portland, OR
  • FAA provided support for the planning and is very enthusiastic about concept
  • Took about one year to secure the funding and get everyone on board – project kickoff was last December
  • Air quality, energy conservation, noise abatement, water quality, land and resource management among factors taken into account during the master plan process
  • Sustainability priorities: 1) maximize existing facilities first; 2) build as a last resort and as sustainably as possible
  • Sustainability was considered throughout the master planning process, keeping these two priorities in mind
  • Planners believed that Ithaca was the right place for a green airport project – sought to develop a template that could be implemented by both small and large airports
  • Along with more traditional initiatives such as expanded parking, additional de-icing pads, and more space for the TSA, recommended sustainability initiatives include: 1) electric vehicle charging points; 2) compressed natural gas fueling station; 3) ground power for GA aircraft; 4) photovoltaic panels; 5) enhanced recycling programs, and 6) green procurement guidelines
  • Community outreach an important component in the planning process – planners worked closely with Cornell, IC, and other similar organizations and institutions
  • They also surveyed travelers and got about 600 electronic responses
  • Two classes each from Cornell and IC participated in the planning – they provided a great source of “out-of-the-box” ideas
  • The students researched a variety of sustainability initiatives and options for the airport – developed reports and presentations on such topics as LEED EB certification and landscaping
  • About 100 students participated over the two-year period
  • Lessons learned: 1) sustainability must be integrated and considered in every decision; 2) there must be a complete inventory/baseline before establishing goals; 3) there has to be centralized data collection, and 4) the advisory committee should be kept small and diverse
  • Next steps: assess whether the preferred options will achieve the plan’s goals
  • Casey Masters asked whether they were considering alternative de-icing technologies
  • Bob said that the airport is heavily regulated by the FAA and cannot use alternative solutions – all de-icing fluids drain into underground tanks and is taken to a municipal waste facility in Watertown
  • Andrew Gil noted that LAX financed a photovoltaic system by providing covered spaces closer to the terminal and charging extra for them – panels went on top
  • Mina Amundsen asked about transportation: Charlie said they are looking at what potential exists for making bus transportation more effective
  • Casey asked about waste recycling and reuse at the airport – Charlie said collecting rainwater and green roof both options being considered
  • Tristram Coffin asked if the airport has looked at carbon offsets: Bob said that is one of the things the airport is considering
  • Gay mentioned the possibility of a kiosk at the airport where passengers could purchase offsets from the Finger Lakes Carbon Fund
  • PowerPoint presentation for the airport’s green plan can be found at: http://www.faa.gov/airports/eastern/airports_news_events/hershey/media_10/Ithaca%20sustainable%20master%20plan.pptx

Geothermal Energy – Adam Patterson, Independent Green Energy & Randal Palach, NextEnergy

  • Adam pointed out that geothermal has major upfront costs but is more economical over the long run
  • According to Randal, the amount of geothermal installed so far is the equivalent of 1.1 million cars so far
  • Next Energy did 3,000 geothermal installations last year
  • With a conventional system, 64% of energy use involves heating and cooling
  • The upfront cost is the major barrier – so why not spread the upfront costs over a long period of time?
  • The NextEnergy system can add up to 19 LEED points to a project
  • Randy walked the group through an explanation of how geothermal systems work – it mainly involves a heat exchange between the building and the earth. 
  • Ninety-five percent of geothermal systems are either horizontal or vertical – horizontal systems are 50% less expensive than vertical
  • The other 5% are lake or pond loops
  • Sweden has successfully used geothermal for district energy
  • Barriers to acceptance are: 1) expense vs. recapture – home resale; 2) complicated contractor procedures; 3) varied opinions among contractors, and 4) early adoption of an expensive addition can cost up to $40K for some homes
  • Only get back about $3-4K with resale of home
  • Earthpoint approach implements geothermal as a utility: it owns the outside loop system and charges fixed access costs
  • The homeowner can apply subsidies to the inside components
  • Earthpoint is going through the process of becoming a public utility in NY, PA, ME and NJ
  • They have installed the system in 50 million homes in the US and Canada 


  • Gary Stewart distributed the latest outreach report
  • Dominic Frongillo shared the idea of a energy efficiency competition involving with another community such as Boulder
  • Gay reminded everyone that the Finger Lakes Bioneers was October 22-24
  • Peter noted that the 350.org work parties would take place around the world on 10/10/10 – Ithaca work parties will include a “Grow Solar” event at 110 S. Albany St. and tree planting at EcoVillage at Ithaca


Ithaca College Climate Action Plan: Marian Brown

  • IC’s goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 100% by 2050 or 2.5% per year.
  • Encouraging trends
    • Reduction in CO2 emissions per square foot
    • Reduction in CO2 emissions per student
    • Reduction in kWh usage/year
    • See full presentation for details

Impact of Energy Efficiency summer projects in Tompkins County: Ken Schlather

  • Ken shared with the group the impacts of the energy efficiency work being done in the county, and presented the excel file that details the job years created, the number of jobs created, the annual $ savings per household, and the pounds of CO2 eliminated per household annually
  • This tool will be distributed to municipalities, towns, legislators to raise awareness for benefits around energy efficiency and to support these efforts statewide

Governance Issues: Group

  • The Steering Committee is comprised of:
    • Katie Borgella – Local Government
    • Tristram Coffin – Business/Industry/Finance
    • Dominic Frongillo – Education
    • Stacey Murphy – Non-profit
  • In discussing who else to pull into the Steering Committee, a few suggestions were made:
    • At-large – seek out a specific representative to fill in the gaps (figure this out after first steering committee meeting – assess our strengths and determine our limitations)
    • Technical expert
    • Legislative person
    • NYSEG: Head of Research and Development (contact to be provided by Ken S.)
  • Katie B. raised the question of whether having representation from every sector is crucial to our success
  • Regarding rotation of meeting facilitation, the group decided that the decision is best left to the Steering Committee
  • The Steering Committee will convene for its first meeting in September

JULY 2009

Clean Communities of Central New York:  Barry Carr and Scott Zep

  • Clean Communities is a US Department of Energy program to encourage local governments and organizations to form partnerships in developing markets for alternative fueled vehicles (AFVs)
  • Seeks reduction of 2.5 billion gallons a year in gasoline by 2020
  • CCCNY is focusing on developing experimental alternative fuel stations – cost about $850K each
  • Economic stimulus funding covers about 50% of cost
  • Partnering nationally with Climate Communities and ICLEI in effort to strengthen leadership role of local governments in national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change
  • Working with Governor’s Office to meet 45X15 goal: use of 30% renewable energy and reduction of 15% in electricity usage by 2015
  • Involved with the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park (STEP) on development of next generation Lithium Ion batteries
  • Teaming up with Syracuse Center for Excellence, SUNY-EFS, and NYSERDA, among others, to leverage academic, infrastructure, and manufacturing base of upstate NY
  • Also working with the NYS Office of General Services Green Procurement Program, which provides a statewide system for purchasing green products
  • In relationship to use of natural gas as an alternative vehicle fuel, Diane Trainer asked about the impact of Marcellus Shale operations, both in terms of getting the gas out of the shale and the trucking of the gas to market
  • Barry responded that there was no question that exploitation of Marcellus Shale will have an environmental impact
  • In long term, he said, we need to shift to biofuels such as methane produced by existing landfills
  • Natural gas is a transitional step
  • He also noted that the NYDEC is slowing the process down, making companies prove they are drilling in ways that minimize the environmental impact
  • Barry also observed that the alternative fuels stations will have ability to switch from biofuel to hydrogen when technology and economics make sense
  • Canopies over the fuel pumps have solar panels on them
  • NYSEG owns and operates natural gas station – could upgrade their own infrastructure
  • Next round of RFPS due August 24th
  • But Barry urged the group not to let deadlines get in the way – there’s always a way to work things out
  • He said that the most important thing is to get people to the table
  • See accompanying PowerPoint for further details

Discussion of Governance Document

  • The remainder of the meeting was taken up by discussion of the governance document and related items
  • A number of changes were suggested, which have been incorporated into the next draft of the document
  • The group requested that efforts be stepped up to get NYSEG to the table in discussions with TCCPI – also asked Peter and Katie to explore possibility of getting the ICSD K-12 facilities manager on board

Other Updates

  • Ed Marx pointed out that the NY State Legislature is in the process of developing a bill that would make the changes necessary for counties and municipalities to adopt the Berkeley model of benefits assessments to finance residential energy efficiency retrofits
  • Ken announced the upcoming Farm Trail weekend and invited everyone to participate in this event

JUNE 2009

Cornell University Climate Action Plan: Dan Roth, Steve Beyers, Drew Lewis

  • Dan Roth introduced the group and provided a brief overview of the Climate Action Plan (CAP)
  • Four goals: improve finances, support research, broaden education, and enhance outreach
  • NYSERDA a key partner – paid half of the consulting costs
  • Affiliated Engineers, Inc is the chief consultant
  • Steve Beyers explained the structure of the implementation committee
  • Noted that Cornell had already carried out a GHG inventory – onsite fossil fuels represent biggest chunk of the carbon footprint: 55%
  • Estimate that after Cornell brings its combined heat and power plant on line in 2010, there will be a 20% drop in emissions – will generate 85% of their own electricity
  • Cornell’s target is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050
  • Collected ideas from stakeholders using the web
  • Action plan takes into account not only the triple bottom line but also the institutional mission
  • Looking closely at more flexible work arrangements to reduce GHG emission
  • Only well-defined actions were included. For example, Cornell did not include any specific solar actions in their plan, since they could not identify a cost-effective action to pursue. However, Cornell is involved in active solar research and integrating solar thermal into the combined heat and power office addition. As technology and markets change, Cornell will continue to explore options for integrating solar technologies across campus
  •  Green development, energy conservation, fuel mix & renewables, transportation, and carbon offsets are among the different areas of action in CAP
  • Carbon offsets will be tied to institutional mission – community carbon offsets and regional forests will be a major focus
  • Dan discussed how the CAP connects to academics – faculty and students, for example, carried out a survey of the community on perceptions of Cornell’s CAP initiatives
  • The Renewable Bioenergy Institute, headed up by Mike Hoffman, is another key dimension – geothermal systems and green building design also important aspects
  • Cornell will be looking to leverage state and federal RFPs in a number of areas
  • The regional launch of the CAP will take place on September 15
  • Cornell will be working with the county planning office to determine how it can assist the county in achieving its GHG targets
  • Don Barber asked, to what extent will Cornell focus on buying local to promote the regional economy?
  • Steve Beyers responded that the focus of this plan is on climate action within the context of the ACUPCC rather than on taking a broader sustainability approach
  • Drew Lewis noted that bioenergy fuel will be one way that Cornell will contribute to the regional economy
  • Don asked, what opportunities will there be for biomass harvesting outside of Cornell owned forestland
  • The CAP currently doesn’t include consideration of supply chain issues – not part of the ACUPCC guidelines, but at some point it will probably include assessment of the supply chain
  • Charlie Trautmann: How does waste fit into Cornell’s CAP?
  • Steve Beyers said that this is hard to measure but Cornell will be doing a lot in this area
  • Marian Brown pointed out that the Clean Air, Cool Planet protocol is being used by most institutions, but not by Cornell
  • Ed Marx noted that the county is including solid waste in its GHG protocol
  • Dan reminded the group that the CAP is only one dimension of Cornell’s sustainability action plan, which has 8 different dimensions overall

PRI/Museum of the Earth Climate Change Outreach: Rob Ross

  • Rob Ross began his presentation with the observation that lots of people now accept climate change as a reality but still doubt that it is caused by people
  • Even among people who believe that humans are causing climate change, many of them don’t think it’s relevant to them
  • PRI/Museum of the Earth’s outreach program will explain how the climate works, how it has changed in the past, and how it’s different this time
  • It will focus on the local, personal relevance of climate change, using the latest science – applying  this approach both locally and across the state
  • The program will build on existing education networks, including K-12 teachers, Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H educators, and museum staff as well as exhibits, online info, and social marketing
  • Starting out with one project at a time on climate change education, pulling them together as a coherent whole as they go forward
  • PRI/MOE is helping to develop national literacy standards in climate and earth science – will incorporate these standards into their exhibits
  • An NSF grant is funding  work with 4-H educators to develop a climate curriculum that will involve backyard, weather-based projects
  • A global climate change web portal can be found at: http://www.museumoftheearth.org/outreach.php?page=overview/globalchange
  • Also, thanks to the Park Foundation, PRI/MOE has developed climate change exhibits and forums that will take place in rural Tompkins County, using moveable kiosks – rolling out in July
  • Included in this outreach will be a survey of rural public opinion and understanding of climate and energy issues
  • The exhibit’s content will include information from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s energy efficiency and conservation materials
  • PRI/MOE is seeking an NSF planning grant to expand the program and put the kiosks up across the state – would develop a plan over 18 months to develop a statewide network
  • On the horizon: a short guide to climate change and another one on energy resources
  • Also working on the concept of a Project Green STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to foster green economic growth
  • Marian Brown suggested that the Finger Lakes library system would provide a good network for the kiosks

Update on Summer Energy Efficiency Initiative: Stacey Murphy (Tompkins Community Action) & Dominic Frongillo (Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension/Energy Smart Communities)

  • Stacey: This initiative is part of a larger workforce development effort – about 50 of the 100 youth hired by TCA for the summer will be working on energy
  • They will be going door to door with energy saving information – getting people to open the door will be the real key to the project’s success
  • The youth will have an adult leaders with them – they need to learn how to meet people where they are, engage them in a simple way, and then move them in a more sophisticated direction
  • The focus will be on low-income neighborhoods – besides single resident homes, they will be talking with group homes, multifamily residences, and senior citizens
  • Diane Traina suggested that they may want to have t-shirts and hats to identify themselves as well as the usual ID badges
  • Stacey noted that they will be sending out postcards to give people a head’s up n the targeted neighborhoods
  • Dominic: Market demand, financing, and workforce are crucial factors in promoting energy savings
  • The CCE youth put together a booklet on county demographics for TCA to help them identify the appropriate neighborhoods
  • Also helped develop some of the information that TCA will be using in its door-to-door campaign and involved in an education effort of informal community leaders, conducting an energy assessment of their houses – not a BPI audit
  • An intern is researching what local policy changes would have to take place to provide funding for energy efficiency retrofits and weatherization projects
  • There are 12 college students on the TCCCE team – only one not work-study qualified
  • Stacey: TCA has been able to ramp up its funding this year as a result of funding from the economic revitalization act – the new funding allows TCA to double its production this year
  • Martha Robertson asked, is TCA working with the Homebuilders Association?
  • Stacey said that there has not been much contact yet but there needs to be more conversation since TCA is looking to create long term jobs beyond this summer
  • Ken Schlather noted that  Energy Smart Communities is working with contractors throughout the region to expand the number of BPI contractors
  • Dominic thanked Performance Systems Development for providing training and licensing of the energy performance software – an excellent example of cross-sector collaboration promoted by TCCPI

MAY 2009

Big Belly Solar: Steve Lauzen, Parkitects

  • Steve presented info about the Big Belly solar trash compactor and shared brochure
  • Cost $4K per unit – will do a cost analysis for anyone interested
  • Has a 5:1 compacting rate – does not require direct sun, although it can’t be in a deep, heavy shade
  • Need to deploy Big Belly units in a system-wide manner to achieve the greatest cost effectiveness
  • Big Belly recommends using the units on routes where the savings  are greatest
  • Philadelphia has just purchased 500 units for the center city – will pay back costs in 1.7 years as a result of savings on labor and fuel consumption – will own the compactors in five years
  • SUNY Albany will achieve annual savings of $50K a year on one route with 40 units – over 10 years will save $324K after paying off lease
  • Batteries need replacement every 4-5 years – cost about $40
  • Available with recycling bins
  • Cornell has been looking at Big Belly for a year now but due to staff turnover has not made much headway
  • Steve will work with group to develop a bulk purchase plan within the next few weeks – also will share copy of his PowerPoint

Cornell Cooperative Extension  Summer Program: Ken Schlather, CCETC

  • Not just a CCE effort – involves many TCCPI partners, including Tompkins Community Action, Tompkins Workforce Investment Board, and Performance Systems Development
  • Awareness of financial benefits of energy savings key to success
  • Without this awareness, interest in weatherization won’t achieve its full potential
  • Summer activities will include door-to-door outreach, education, and workforce development
  • Repeated messaging crucial to engaging the public
  • The summer program will focus on rural communities outside City of Ithaca
  • Tompkins Community Action working with 100 youth ages 14-24 this summer – about 50 will be involved in energy work and 50 of the 100 will continue after the summer is over
  • Enough people to work on 16 neighborhoods
  • Summer program is a pilot, looking to do year-round program
  • Over long run, market demand, quality workforce, and financial incentives will determine program success
  • Working with a “Deck of Cards” approach to provide customized information
    • Give homeowner exactly what they need
  • Will use peer to peer marketing, providing short video clips of local residents benefiting from home performance improvements
  • Hope to develop common language for energy efficiency and renewable energy work
  • Will develop an “energy path” for each homeowner – help them see where they are on path and what steps to take
  • Will register each household visited with Residential COMPASS to provide the documentation needed to move forward with local carbon fund
  • TCA/CCE is reaching out to  500 landlords
  • Also reaching out through employers – IC, for example, brought Ken to campus to share info on home performance improvements with staff
  • There are 18,000+ households in TC that need work
  • Building the market through consumer education and policy infrastructure
  • Hope to begin roll out with community leader homes in next couple of weeks
  • 2,200 – 2,500 households over next three months
  • Youth labor force will begin in early July
  • Workforce Investment Act funding will provide source of support for summer
  • Julia Mattick of Tompkins Workforce Investment Board will be releasing additional RFPs going forward, with focus on older your – emphasis on developing green collar workforce

Other Updates:

  • New Austin, TX ordinance requires audit at the time of home sale
  • In first year of enactment, 25% of houses required to undergo energy efficiency work (becomes a selling point: energy performance of the home)
  • Could improve property value down the road, benefit assessment
  • Need to build workforce capacity – enough auditors to do that many audits
  • Currently, inspection of new buildings in Tompkins is more expensive than the actual efficiency recommendations that came out of inspection can we somehow strengthen this policy? Could help with the County’s target for reductions
  • Financing piece would be important to putting an ordinance on the books similar to Austin’s – benefit assessment could be very helpful here
  • Would have to be done at municipal level – county has not authority over local building codes
  • County submitted grant proposal to Clean Communities for adding 3 hybrids to its fleet through Clean Communities program
  • Barry Carr – Clean Communities has been invited to the July meeting to discuss funding opportunities (Note: he has accepted invitation and will be attending)

Good Bye and Thanks to Dean Koyanagi

  • Peter noted that Dean’s last day at Cornell was today and thanked Dean for his leadership on sustainability and in the community
  • Dean received a standing ovation from the group – his contributions will be greatly missed!

APRIL 2009

Report on Governance Structure: Peter Bardaglio and Dan Roth

  • No clear conclusions – but everyone supported establishing a rotating representative model to serve as a steering group (reps from business, higher ed, non-profit, gov’t, etc.); serve 6 months to 1 year
  • This model would address the fact that members are seeking different levels of participation
  • No committees à fluid “working groups”
  • Fernando de Aragón asked about the group’s mission and Peter walked us through the 4 goals and mission
  • Again, several members emphasized the value of networking, engaging in collective conversations
  • Dan Roth asked the group if this rotating representative model made sense in the context of our shared goal of having a forum/arena for connecting the dots:
    • Be sure to keep focus (on those making the dots)
    • Bring in those who aren’t at the table (faith community, small business)
    • Dan suggested that we formulize the steering committee structure – asked for group feedback:
      • It would allow for more action items
      • Could work on how to utilize our monthly meeting more effectively

City of Ithaca Status Report: Sean Vormwald

  • Focus right now is on updating the greenhouse gas inventory as well as training for city employees and developing a climate change strategy
  • Climate Smart Communities Pledge adopted by Common Council at its last meeting – vote not unanimous
  • Note: The Town of Ithaca and Tompkins County have also adopted this pledge – see attached for resolutions passed by the city, town, and county
  • This 10-point initiative is promoted by several state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Conservation
  • For details, visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/50845.html
  • As part of the pledge, the City will join the Climate Registry, which has developed a standardized method for reporting emissions inventories
  • The City has also committed to LEED certification for new buildings and is beginning to plan for climate adaptation
  • Fernando: all Common Council members are up for re-election…do we have a role in educating them, bringing them up to speed on climate change?
  • How to provide the right information without overwhelming them?
  • What about providing each of them with climate science info and materials from the Museum of the Earth and a letter from the TCCPI coalition?

Berkeley/Babylon Model for Consideration in Tompkins County

  • Berkeley and Babylon offer interesting financing models for renewable energy – could be expanded to include energy efficiency
  • Use municipal bonding capacity to fund revolving loan fund for these projects
    • CO2 = waste
  • Obligation stays with home à cash flow (lower energy costs)
  • Wrapped into escrow account – not a separate bill
  • NYS Association of Counties (in Albany) looking for pilot counties
  • Regional bonding might generate enough credits to become player in carbon market
  • Heather Filiberto:  Could this model also be applied to multi-family and commercial buildings?
  • Katy Borgella: The county is considering this but will need a lot more money – focusing on residential homes first
  • There could be a real interest in such an initiative with businesses in the county
  • Katy and Joan Jurkowich, the county’s deputy planning commissioner, have been tasked with exploring the feasibility of the benefit assessment approach
  • Jon Jensen: The Park Foundation would be interested in exploring the potential of bonds as a program related investment (PRI) – would provide capital at a low-interest rate (1 or 2 %) – not uncommon for non-profits to “subsidize” projects like this one
  • Martha Robertson: Benefit assessment could be a fantastic solution that touches a lot of buttons – property taxes wouldn’t have to be raised to support such an initiative – believes that this could attract strong support from the county legislature

AES Cayuga Power Plant: Jerry Goodenough and Chris Wentlent

  • AES is a huge energy corporation: 29 countries on five continents – 25,000 employees and 11 million customers
  • AES Cayuga has made significant effort to reduce pollution – 95% of sulfur is removed – carbon dioxide is the big challenge
  • The power plant employs 75 people and pays $4.8 million in property taxes each year
  • AES Cayuga can only sell to market (e.g., NYSEG), not end users
  • Installed capacity of 38K MW in NY – average peak is 18-20K MW and average off peak is 12-15K MW
  • AES supports a national rather than regional approach to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions – has been a stakeholder in the development of regional market (RGGI)
  • Favors inclusion of all major sectors in the economy and supports a cap-and-trade approach – believes there should be carbon allowances provided in the beginning
  • 21% of AES energy generated worldwide is renewable, including 1,200 MW of wind power in US, France, and China

MARCH 2009

Green Jobs/Economic Stimulus Update: Julia Mattick, Workforce Investment Board

  • Tompkins County is receiving $570,000 from the Federal Workforce Investment Act, some of which is already coming in
  • $417,000 of that money is for youth (up to 24 years old) to be spent by December 31st – reaching ~ 300 youth, 70-90 jobs specifically for energy efficiency and green jobs
  • Workforce Investment Board is a funder – will put out RFP’s and award contracts
  • Tompkins Community Action (TCA) will be receiving funding to conduct audits/weatherize – focus on lower income households
  • Cooperative Extension will conduct low-tech audits and provide info, resources (mainly educational)
  • WIB will be rolling out a summer youth program meant to maximize the weatherization component of stimulus package
  • Goal is to have youth transition in the fall to other related jobs with contractors in the community doing weatherization
  • Working with TC3 as a potential site for green collar jobs training – Broome Community College will help get this program underway
  • TC3 has grant funding from NYSERDA to launch two programs, continuing ed and tuition driven
  • Workforce Development will cover tuition for some people and courses – can create new classes under economic stimulus act
  • Will be able to greatly expand number of people enrolled in paid tuition classes and comprehensive degree programs
  • Bottom line: creating a pipeline to fill growing number of green collar jobs in the community

Group Feedback on Community Energy Challenge Proposal

  • Not everyone lives in Tompkins County
  • Cost? Compass will be offered, basically for free
    • Might need some reimbursement for administrative work
    • $$ for youth workers
    • Can this be offered to NYSERDA, DOE?
  • NYSERDA would want to regulate it, might complicate things
  • DOE talking with PSD about ways to track impact of weatherization efforts on energy performance
  • Ed: tracking should be built into all weatherization programs and should be done in a consistent way with all programs and grants
  • Gay: how can we get the city of Ithaca involved in the program? Might make sense to focus on city employees first – already has sustainability training program (Sean Vormwald, Johnson Control) for 400 city employees
  • Marian: why not provide benchmarking capability to people who are using the Cooperative Extension CD?
  • Martha: County Plan to reduce GHG emissions by 2%; this mechanism could be key to the county showing progress on this goal – fits well with county goals
  • Jerry: collecting data through Compass would allow documentation of pre and post energy performance
  • By tracking carbon reductions, could generation carbon credits for a local carbon fund
  • Ed: what about a grant to establish community tracking device to align with all other programs, get community-wide system in place
  • NYSEG’s participation is crucial – they need to start doing more with public outreach/education around sustainability, energy efficiency.


Teach-In: Marian Brown, Ithaca College

  • Marian informed the group that IC’s participation in the national teach-in on climate change was a success
  • Organized by the faculty, with a high turn-out from students – best response yet to an event like this at IC

Visit to AES Cayuga Power Plant: Peter Bardaglio and Katie Stoner

  • Peter and Katie were given a tour of the plant by plant manager, Jerry Goodenough
  • Jerry Goodenough plans to attend an upcoming meeting and to give short presentation on the power plant with some relevant stats and info to the group

Making Compass Data Collection Seamless: Peter Bardaglio

  • Peter shared with the group the idea of working with NYSEG on the data collection component in order to make it easier for people to participate
  • As it stands, utilizing Compass will require a great deal of effort and maintenance from participants, a potential barrier to success
  • Can this be a service that NYSEG offers to its customers? Providing climate controlled carbon information and an opportunity for NYSEG to help people with climate issues at the level of state utility
  • Such an approach would bridge the gap between data collection and benchmarking: NYSEG would provide data for Compass and NYSEG would provide report to consumers on energy consumption, eliminating the need for voluntary participation in Compass from willing businesses, institutions, and organizations
  • Marian mentioned that she has a contact with Iberdola, the parent company of NYSEG, and will initiate a conversation with them about this possibility. Iberdola is a Spanish company that has a major focus on energy efficiency and wind energy.
  • Ken emphasized the need to incentivize this idea for NYSEG. This program could be housed under the Systems Benefit Charge (SBC) and would allow them to demonstrate that they are doing something positive for their customers.
  • Marian will initiate conversation with Iberdola contact

Update on Stimulus Money

  • Ed informed the group that NYSERDA has to submit program proposals to the US Department of Energy in 30 days and hopes to make opportunities available by the summer
  • NYSERDA has begun to put together proposals, but no details yet about where they money will go
  • Gay shared that some of the money is non-formula, i.e. the funds can come directly from the USDOE; other money will be funneled through the state in the form of block grants
  • Martha told the group that the money will come quickly and is going where it is most needed. Updates on where the money is being spent can be accessed at:
    • Recovery.gov (federal)
    • Economicrecovery.ny.gov (state)
  • Tompkins Community Action will receive significant funds from the stimulus package – weatherization funds will be four times higher than usual
  • More houses will become eligible (based on income) – focusing on youth employment
  • Tompkins Community Action adding staff – the contact person there is Stacey Murphy, Energy Services Director (Stacey.murphy@tcaction.org)

Finger Lakes Carbon Fund: Gay Nicholson, Sustainable Tompkins

  • Gay informed the group that Sustainable Tompkins has begun work to determine the feasibility of a local climate fund. The initial research will include:
    • Carrying out a market survey
    • Identifying potential local projects to offset CO2 for travel
    • Connecting with organizations, institutions, and individuals with climate commitments (Cornell, IC, TC3, County/City, citizens)
    • Exploring best practices
    • Developing products such as grants to homeowners (need to show that projects wouldn’t be done without this money)
  • AFCU will be manage the fund, ST will handle the advisory process and grant allocation
  • Questions/comments from the group:
    • Tompkins Community Action programs include Assisted Home Performance and Weatherization – will people on the receiving end of the AHP be the source of the carbon offsets?
    • How to avoid double counting?
    • Martha: is there another way to administer the carbon fund that is less labor intensive, carrying out a few large projects instead of lots of smaller ones?
    • Rob Ross: important to think about the social aspect, (e.g. can people partially offset emissions if they can’t afford full offset?)
    • Ken: there is a 30% federal tax credit on weatherization – can this be packaged with other tax credits? NYSERDA gives 10% tax credit for BPI Certified audit, 7% sales tax abatement for landlords and businesses – could equal a 47% tax credit
    • Gay pointed out that if the carbon fund piggybacked on the NYSERDA infrastructure already in place, it would be easier to certify carbon reductions and cost less to administer

TCCPI’s Governance Structure

  • Peter turned discussion to the proposed committees and associated action items
  • Several questions raised around the structure of TCCPI and whether the group needs to make a move to formalize or change our current structure
  • Group members shared their thoughts, questions, ideas, concerns:
  • Do we need a self-governance structure?
  • Would formalizing our group create more competition for staff, resources?
  • Sometimes without a leadership structure, it is tough to get decisions made, to move forward on action items
  • Information sharing is valuable – provides a high level understanding of what’s going on in the community vis-à-vis climate and energy issues
  • Could we be a forum for creating partnerships and collaboration rather than become another formal organization?
  • Do people actually want to get involved in committee work? Or should that be the responsibility of staff?
  • TCCPI could be branded as an advocacy group, group of people who really know what’s going on
  • Need to strengthen outreach to business sector and faith communities (TCAD, Chamber might be avenues for this)
  • Attendance at meetings seems to have dropped off -- how can we reconnect and bring people back?
  • Clinton Climate Initiative seemed to be one of the carrots, but that never attracted much interest and has now taken a back seat – is it possible to reconnect there?
  • Ed mentioned that if this group did not exist, the Tompkins County Planning Department would have to create it
  • Can we build into the meetings time for break out groups, interest groups rather than committees?
  • Can we help businesses by focusing effort on highlighting available resources?
  • Do we need a name change? “Initiative” connotes staff, work (which we do have, they could focus on high priority tasks); we could become a forum, and that could be our mechanism for bringing people in
  • Focus at this stage is energy efficiency in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the county
  • Makes sense to connect with Charlie Trautmann, head of the Sciencenter – has lots of interest and expertise in climate science education
  • Any info we want to get out, Sciencenter could quickly put together a display/kiosk that will reach 150,000+/year
  • PRI/Museum of the Earth is developing rural climate outreach program for underserved communities
  • Need to form ad hoc committee to focus on governance: what does membership mean, what should the governance structure look like, how are members represented?


Debriefing: County Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element: Discussion

  • Ed Marx said that implementation of the action steps in the newly approved County Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element would be one of his office’s top priorities for the coming year
  • He noted that the plan calls for a 10% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in five years – the county planning commission will be putting together a detailed assessment of how this will be accomplished
  • The county is already implementing a green fleet policy and additional energy policies for county buildings
  • New renovations of the County Health Department building will meet LEED silver standards
  • Martha Robertson announced that the sales tax abatement on energy efficiency services and products had passed the county legislature
  • Ed Marx expressed his hope that a significant amount of money coming out of Congress for weatherization would seek to put young people back to work – will also include investments in alternative energy and upgrading the electric grid
  • Gay Nicholson noted that Sustainable Tompkins is organizing a series of roundtables around the topic of green-collar workforce development
  • Martha Robertson said that Ithaca’s reputation as an innovator and leader in sustainability may serve it well as these federal funds are released – it may not be the largest or poorest city, but it can provide a model of the rest of the country
  • Ken Schlather said that youth development as part of the economic revitalization plan would include individuals up to 25 years old – may change, of course, when bill is finally voted on
  • We should think about scaling up county goals for weatherization
  • According to Conrad Metcalfe, people can be trained for to carry out weatherization projects in a week
  • Julia Mattick, director of Tompkins County Workforce Development, is initiating workforce training
  • Perhaps Martha Hubbard, director of outreach at TC3, could help out with funding
  • Ed Marx pointed out that the Berkeley model might be worth looking at more closely – cost of the energy renovations stays with the value of the house
  • Carol Kammen’s son at UC Berkeley is one of the top energy experts in the country – should think about inviting him to speak
  • Ed Marx suggested that TCCPI form a committee to focus on the connection between the green economy and weatherization

Update on Cornell, Ithaca College, and TC3 Climate Action Plans: Dean Koyanagi, Marian Brown, and Jim Turner

  • Dean Koyanagi reported that Cornell currently gathering feedback from people inside Cornell and out – using a random sample survey to gauge how people feel about projects just as wind power
  • Cornell trustees will get a presentation on carbon costs at their full board meeting in March
  • Cornell wants to be the first university in the US to get a handle on these costs and build them into their planning going forward
  • It’s anticipating action at the federal level regarding carbon regulation and wants to be ready for it
  • Such regulation could compress payback period to 5-6 years, which would make it possible to carry out a range of energy efficiency and renewable energy innovations
  • Dean is willing to present the carbon costing model to the group once it’s finalized
  • Katie Borgella noted that the carbon value of forests in terms of sequestration is taking off
  • Dean said that Cornell is not including carbon sequestration in its forests as a carbon offset
  • Marian Brown reported that IC is halfway through its wind assessment on campus – the results so far are mixed
  • Sodexo is working with IC on an assessment of its energy efficiency and carbon footprint – they are carrying out a sustainability audit of their entire dining services operations as a pilot project – doing this at virtually no cost to the college
  • Six energy experts from Sodexo have visited the campus so far – Sodexo would like to provide this service to other institutions and organizations
  • Energy use in dining services could be as high as 4-6 times that of other spaces on campus
  • Jim Turner reported that TC3 is in the middle of collecting data for its May report to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)
  • It’s carrying out “low-hanging fruit” projects via an energy performance contract with Johnson Controls
  • TC3 is also seeking LEED Silver on the renovations of two classrooms and the addition of three new ones
  • In addition, TC3 is looking at the possibility of a new, freestanding solar array that would provide some of the energy for the classrooms – a meter would be installed on it for students to study

TCCPI Priorities for the Next Five Months: Discussion

  • Katie Stoner walked the group through an action plan grid that she developed based on TCCPI’s original work plan
  • The focus on youth workforce development will be incorporated into these action steps
  • Gay Nicholson said that Sustainable Tompkins will be putting together a handbook on plug load audits – it’s partnering with the Chamber of Commerce to connect students with this project
  • Martha Robertson asked, what is TCCPI’s niche?
  • Herb Engman pointed out that smaller communities in the county need help with their energy and climate protection efforts
  • They’re carrying out individual projects but need help with the development of an overall plan: establishing their carbon footprint, setting goals, and then implementing the plan
  • He observed that 30K people live in the city of Ithaca but another 70K live elsewhere in the county – that’s where the help is needed
  • Ken Schlather said that he thought TCCPI’s niche stemmed from being more institutional than grassroots
  • This kind of multi-sector collaboration would be a model for other communities and could provide a template for 5-10 year plans
  • He emphasized that a systems approach is crucial – where do we have good information (Cornell’s work on carbon costing) and where do we need more information and help (the county’s towns and villages)
  • Marian Brown pointed out that TCCPI is unique in having three higher ed institutions committed to the ACUPCC – how can we mobilize faculty and students as resources to help with climate protection?
  • Martha Robertson suggested that the Council of Governments should be brought into the mix – the Ithaca City School District also needs to be brought into the discussion – should contact the facilities manager at ICSD
  • Martha also suggested that Interfaith Power and Light should be contacted
  • Other suggestions included Julie Mattick of the Workforce Investment Group and the president of the Tompkins County Landlord Organization
  • Also would be helpful to have more participation from smaller businesses and nonprofits

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

Meeting Highlights: 2009