to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

November-December 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010


New York State Electricity and Gas: Tim Winderl

  • Utilities need to help the state achieve the 15x15 goals (reduce electricity consumption by 15% within 15 years by rolling out programs to incentivize energy efficiency measures for residents, businesses, commercial facilities, and institutions 
  • NYSEG investing millions to improve infrastructure and reliability NYSEG has been working with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop programs; several levels:
    • Residential—gas rebate program. Residential sector is where NYSEG has had the most participation and they will continue to focus their efforts there 
    • Multifamily apartment buildings 
    • Small business incentive – “Small Business Energy Efficiency Program;” businesses using less than 100 KW yearly are eligible for a free lighting assessment with up to 70% of recommended upgrades financed by NYSEG
    • Commercial/Industrial
  • New SC4 rate for municipalities
    • Allows municipalities to change from high pressure sodium to LEDs; municipalities take over the maintenance NYSEG has internal sustainability program to decrease energy consumption in their facilities and fleet 

Update on Green Jobs/Green New York legislation: Stacey Murphy (Tompkins Community Action)
  • October 2009 legislation promotes energy efficiency, reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions reductions; supports sustainable development and creates jobs 
  • Free and reduced fee audits
    • 10% rebate on cost of improvements, up to $3,000 
    • Can’t be used with EnergySmart Loan, AHP, list of approved measures 
  • Residential loan – replacing Energy Star loans after 1/15/11 
  • Green Jobs

The Clean Tech Economy in Tompkins County: Pat Govang (e2e Materials) 
  • Wood products account for 60% of deforestation, 40-50 years left in global supply of wood 
  • E2e seeks to change and restructure products and the way things are made, decreasing energy consumption in products 
  • E2e products are made from soy flowers and grass fibers-- materials biodegrade in 6 months 
  • Wood products represent a $65 billion industry – huge market opportunity 
  • They are building first products production set-up in and have their first big client on the West Coast
  • In upstate NY, 200+ people employed by e2e; more of these facilities are located around the world, goal is to grow products nearby manufacturing facilities 

Cornell Center for Technology and Commercialization (CCTEC): Laura Cima, Economic Development Manager 

  • Research projects rolled out as companies/start-ups; look for local companies to license technologies to 
  • When technologies don’t have entrepreneurs to run with it, their office has staff to act as CEO, go out and find investors and financing 
  • CCTEC rolled out 12 companies last fiscal year, on track to exceed that this year 

Tompkins County Area Development : Michael Stamm, President 
  • Mission is to create quality employment opportunities for local residents 
  • Services include business planning, site location, financing 
  • Work with accounts, lawyers and other professionals to provide free advice to start-ups 
  • Cayuga Venture Fund: provides start-up capital, invests in companies, helps attract larger investors from outside sources 
  • Make direct loans to business 


Enfield Community Wind Project: Eric Banford & Marguerite Wells (Enfield Community Wind)

  • Major barrier is finding financing for project-- $90-110 million
  • Not financially feasible to put up isolated turbines at different locations
  • Enfield second best location area—just north of Conn. Hill. Mt. pleasant best location, but that site ruled out by public opposition
  • Important to keep jobs and energy in community
  • Original plan was for 20 2.5 MW turbines permitted for this setup—somewhat fluid depending on when financing finally comes through and who provides it
  • Low price of energy right now makes it difficult to case for any kind of renewable energy
  • Also federal tax credit (30%) due to expire at end of this year
  • What about nonprofit organizations that would generate community owned power? P

Pedestrian Oriented Development: Rob Morache (New Earth Strategies) 

  • Critical mass is key to feasibility of nodal development
  • Proximity another key factor
  • People need to want to walk—distance one factor—sense of identified space and interest experience important
  • Node provides “journey” not just getting from one point to another
  • Expansion of suburbs w/ rise of cars and interstate highway system made problem even worse
  • Buses alone won’t solve problem of traffic on Rt. 96—need dedicated transit like trolley to siphon off congestion

Update on Countywide Energy Efficiency Campaign: Dominic Frongillo (TC Cornell Cooperative Extension)

  • Very successful meeting yesterday—about 20 people—Jeff Berkuvitz facilitated
  • Reached tipping point in terms of ideas for how to proceed
  • Lots of people at table who haven’t been traditionally


Airport Sustainable Master Plan: Bob Nicholas (Ithaca Tompkin Regional Airport)and Charlie McDermott (CS Companies)

  •  First green master plan for any U.S. airport – as a result of this initiative, ten other airports have moved in this direction (Denver, Seattle, and Portland, OR)
  •   FAA provided support for the planning and is very enthusiastic about concept
  •  Air quality, energy conservation, noise abatement, water quality, land and resource management among factors taken into account
  •  Sustainability priorities: 1) maximize existing facilities first; 2) build as a last resort and as sustainably as possible
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  • PowerPoint presentation for the airport’s green plan can be found here

Geothermal Energy: Adam Patterson (Independent Green Energy) & Randal Palach (NextEnergy)

  • Geothermal has major upfront costs but is more economical over the long run– so why not spread the upfront costs over a long period of time?
  • The amount of geothermal installed so far is the equivalent of 1.1 million cars so far
  • With a conventional system, 64% of energy use involves heating and cooling
  • The NextEnergy system can add up to 19 LEED points to a project
  • Ninety-five percent of geothermal systems are either horizontal or vertical – horizontal systems are 50% less expensive than vertical
  • 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


INHS Commitment to Sustainability: Paul Mazzarella (Executive Director, INHS)

  • Paul Mazzarella (INHS) presented to the group on the INHS Commitment to Sustainability
  • INHS is dedicated to sustainability in community development and housing
  • 3 major programs:
    • Lender (home sales and repairs) – facilitated the purchase of 700 homes for 1st-time homebuyers, most of whom were low income
    • Real estate developers – renovate dilapidated buildings and sell to 1st-time homebuyers; also building some new homes
    • Property management
  • Sustainability principles:
    • Preservation of existing housing
    • Healthy neighborhoods
    • Long-term housing affordability
    • Smart growth
    • Green housing
    • Constant experimentation
    • Sustainable organization
  • Strategic initiatives:
    • Increase production of new housing units
    • Improve long-term affordability and sustainability of housing
    • Expand reach throughout Tompkins County
  • New housing development:
    • Compatible with existing character of neighborhoods
    • Energy efficient
    • Adhere to smart growth principles
    • Everything new is “green”
    • Energy Star
    • LEED
  • Education:
    • Homebuyer workshops
    • Contractor workshops
    • Home manual for new homeowners
  • Research and Innovation:
    • SIP (Structural Insulated Panels) technology
    • Smart metering
    • Looking at zero energy home
  • Making existing homes energy efficient:
    • INHS is first community development organization to become a NYS Energy Smart lender
    • Working with Cooperative Extension on pellet stove pilot: identifying 25 homes with outdated propane/heating oil systems and replacing with pellet systems

Roundtable Updates
  • Katie Stoner (TCCPI) and Shawn Lindabury (CE) updated the group on efforts to design a county-wide energy efficiency campaign aimed at tying together multiple e.e. efforts and to promote the County’s Energy Stategy and bringing the public into the process
  • First meeting of initial stakeholders to take place this September, more details to follow.
  • Peter Bardaglio (TCCPI) and Jon Jensen (Park Foundation) hope to visit Oberlin, OH this fall to further consult with David Orr on community sustainability initiatives
  • Anyone interested in joining should contact Peter at: pbardaglio@gmail.com
  • The Park Foundation will hold forums on LEED and Energy Star for non-profits interested in undergoing energy efficiency retrofits
  • They are looking for anyone who can contribute to or present at this forum; contact Park Foundation.
  • Tompkins County Area Development providing funds from their revolving loan fund to high-tech/green/sustainable businesses to encourage businesses to stay in the area and create jobs
  • Marian Brown (Ithaca College): Clean Energy Summit “Re-imagining Upstate New York’s Energy Future,” Ithaca College, Friday, September 17,2010 9am – 11am
  • Stacey Murphy (Tompkins Community Action): TCA received grant to incorporate renewables into their retrofit services
  • Waiting list for weatherization services is currently very short
  • Ken Schlather (Cooperative Extension): Pursuing pilot program to collect data on set of residents/houses who switch from high cost fossil-fuel-based heating systems to wood pellet systems
  • Two year program – collect data on energy use for all housing types/sizes, document people’s experiences in order

JULY 2010

NYSERDA PON 2078 Low Carbon Transportation Alternatives: Dwight Mengel, Tompkins County Department of Social Services

  • Unmet need in our community: mobility services operate as individual entities, no central point of contact for interested customers
  • Proposal: create a one-stop service center to enable customers to select and finance a bundle of mobility of services to meet their individual needs
  • Dwight is looking to assemble a team to solicit NYSERDA to fund a feasibility study, which will include a business plan and simulation of a mobility market 

Cornell Combined Heat & Power Plant tour for TCCPI members: Katie Stoner

  • Ed Wilson has offered to give a tour of the CHP plant to TCCPI members
  • Members are invited to respond to RSVP for the tour, to be held on Monday August, 9th at either 1:30 – 3:00 pm or 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Steering Committee Terms: Update: Katie Stoner

  • The Steering Committee recently discussed term limits for Steering Committee members and the following policy is tentatively in place (pending any feedback from that group that is received before the August 27th meeting, at which time the policy will become official):
    • One term is 2 years (representatives must commit to serving the 2 year term upon acceptance of nomination)
    • Steering Committee members may serve up to 2 consecutive terms of 2 years each
    • After a maximum of 2, 2-year terms, representatives must take 1 year off before beginning a 3rd term

Landlords Association of Tompkins County: Energy Efficiency Survey Results & Discussion: Casey Mastro, ASI Renovations

  • LATC is composed of 135 members, who manage or own 8,000 rental properties in Tompkins County, which accounts for 6% of the properties in Tompkins County
  • Of the 46% landlords that took energy efficiency measures, only 6 underwent BPI audits (which means that the majority are not taking advantage of statewide incentives – which require BPI audits)
  • One major barrier ASI is facing is the AHP – student issue: student renters are being excluded from AHP due to parent income, rather than their own income. ASI looking for ways to overcome this barrier
  • ASI is starting to get into student (including fraternities and sororities) and light commercial properties (< $75,000 annual electric bill), all of which need assistance securing funding to implement improvements (that are only marginally supported by NYSERDA funds/incentives); highlights the need for green investment dollars at the local level
  • ASI is now looking for success stories and case studies related to energy improvements resulting in actual energy savings (vs. theoretical, predicted savings)
  • Sharon Conrad of INHS mentioned that the Henry St. John’s building has saved thousands on their utility bills as a result of energy efficiency improvements
  • Casey shared that NYSERDA has a section on their website dedicated to publicizing success stories, but it’s pretty meager at this point and local examples are important to carry this work forward in Tompkins County
  • Michelle Jones directed the group the NYSEG rate case, that details information about the rate increases that many consumers (not residential) will be facing. To learn more, visit: https://psd.centraldesktop.com/academy/folder/1362065/&pgref=#folder:1362065

Community and Student Renters: Energy Efficiency Research Results & Discussion: Dominic Frongillo, Cooperative Extension

  • TC/Cornell Cooperative Extension wanted to look at how to engage renters/tenants in energy efficiency while examining barriers to participation and action
  • Anecdotal findings suggested that the primary barriers are as follows:
    • Lack of basic understanding of energy efficiency, as well as the steps necessary to get started and undergo the process
    • Lack of trust
    • Lack of social support (i.e. peer networks to discuss decisions with, get feedback, share stories, etc.)
    • Split incentives are the crux of the issue: no one has the incentive, and no one has to responsibility to bear the costs of energy efficiency improvements
    • Ithaca College students field tested the “Deck of Cards” (educational tool designed to help homeowners, renters, and landlords make decisions and access resources related to energy efficiency improvements in their homes/buildings) with renters and landlords
      • Major dynamic at play: landlords qualify for program based on tenant’s incomes, which requires a great deal of effective communication and cooperation
      • In the towns of Ithaca and Dryden, students walked renters and landlords through the Deck of Cards and asked them identify cards that represented their income
        • Feedback from participants: make the cards more personal with stories and co-branding with other established community programs to help lend credibility to what CE is doing
  • Michelle Jones (Energy Manager at Ithaca College) shared a creative option for implementing energy improvements in the rental sector, a “Utility Cap Lease:”
    • Typically implemented by property management companies or landlords
    • Property owner amortizes energy usage based on the last 12 months, which determines the utility bill cap
    • Property owner agrees to pay utility bill up to a certain value based on the history and if tenant exceeds that cap, the tenant pays, which comes out of a high security deposit they pay up front
  • Casey Mastro shared that ASI has made a great deal of progress in building trust with clients by providing a great deal of support with paperwork (doing as much of it as they can for their clients, relieving some of the stress and burden)
  • Clay Munnings (CE) presented on the Collegetown tentant survey (about 30 student renters were surveyed)
    • They sought out to determine whether there was a connection between who pays the utility bills and the nature of the building’s energy performance
    • They also looked at whether tenants were concerned about comfort (framed energy performance as a comfort issue, because most students didn’t quite grasp the concepts related to energy efficiency and building performance)
    • They found that students would be willing to pay $23/month extra to have an apartment that is 100% comfortable, but that many students felt resentment toward their landlords. Additionally, many students expressed a sense of entitlement.
    • 90% of student renters cited communication barriers/challenges with their landlords (including issues related to negligence and dishonesty)
    • Anecdotal findings suggested that neither landlords nor tenants truly understand energy efficiency
    • The lack of communication and trust coupled with the lack of knowledge are major barriers that prevent both groups from implementing energy efficiency improvements and/or making behavior changes
  • From this anecdotal research, it’s clear that there is an educational role that CE can and will continue to play
  • Next steps include taking the leadership model and applying it to the tenant/landlord situation
    • This is a more complex, cumbersome scenario that takes longer
    • Just launched pilot program with Frost Travis and 6 other members of the LATC to test this model (CE has completed half of these energy analyses – they made sure to emphasize that these are not BPI-audits but rather serve to give people a sense of what they might find if they did have an audit, and to connect them to the people who can do the work in the community)
    • Energy Corps staff take landlords and tenants through the apartment to do an observational assessment of the energy issues and discuss areas for improvement, conduct blower door test to identify air leakage, and finish by providing a chart to landlords and tenants that denotes which weatherization measures a tenant is authorized to implement on their own, and which ones the landlord will do themselves
    • Energy Corps staff provide follow-up reports for both landlords and tenants, which includes information on how to get a BPI audit, recommendations for improvements based on the observations made at the visit, as well as resources related to financing this work
  • Take away: landlords are generally uneducated when it comes to energy efficiency, but receptive to learning and interested in the powerful incentives and programs that exist

Challenges, Barriers, and Opportunities for Landlord/Tenant Energy Efficiency Efforts: Joe Laquatra, Professor, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University

  • Ithaca has a residential energy conservation ordinance (RECO), but the question of whether it’s being reinforced is up for debate
  • Research shows that messages emphasizing the amount of money lost due to energy waste is more effective in getting people to act rather than emphasizing what will be saved
  • Research shows that 48% of energy used in buildings can be cut by 2/3 without inventing anything new
  • Solutions in the long-run include increasing tenant demand for energy efficiency
  • Mending the split incentive:
    • Federal: minimum standards for appliances and equipment
    • State: building code
    • Local: RECOs
    • PAYS: Pay As You Save programs
    • Green Leases
    • NYSERDA is coming out with a new program: Green Residential Building Program that will promote green design and building practices throughout New York State by offering incentives to Owners of newly constructed or substantially renovated green residential buildings of fewer than 12 units)
  • Educational Opportunities:
    • LATC, CE could work together to do 3rd party verification of “green” apartments that have undergone energy efficiency improvements and audits
    • Marketing push – drive student renters to more efficient apartments
    • ASI could hold seminars for contractors, work with Cornell/IC to direct students to efficient apartments (decide on housing before moving to Ithaca – create a website to help them make good decisions)
    • With student renters, the question of when to address this issue remains: before they become renters – during orientation? Or after their freshmen year when they start moving off campus
    • Important to note differences between undergrad and graduate students (behavior and motivations)
    • Apply a score (maybe using COMPASS) to properties that will be advertised as green properties
    • WA/OR is looking at making energy labeling a mandate
    • Major issues related to the time-consuming nature of working with landlords (Energy Corps program)
  • Ed: Assessment tied to state law, not a lot of room for flexibility; tax shifting
  • Given ASI’s story about acquiring loans for energy efficiency projects (ASI was first company to come to this bank for this kind of loan), we might expect that there are more investors ready to play than we previously assumed
    • Look at FL case (St. Lucie County) and Doug Coward (banks guaranteeing loans toward solar/energy program)
  • There is a need for case studies of successful energy efficiency projects that can help educate others about the benefits of this work

JUNE 2010

Outreach Plan Check-In: Gary Stewart

  • Gary presented a detailed report on the activities and goals of the outreach working group – distributed a handout outlining these details
  • Also discussed website: need to make better use of it, short video clips of various coalition partners, etc
  • Peter thanked Gary for taking the initiative on the outreach front and his leadership on recruiting members of the outreach group

Discussion of upcoming grant opportunities: Katie Borgella

  • Katie Borgella reviewed several grant opportunities with the group, sharing a handout summarizing each of these
  • Discussed EPA grant first – what things are going on in the community that are in the early stages and could benefit from greater support?
  • Peter mentioned EVI’s third neighborhood TREE and explained why it would make a good model for the county’s GHG emissions efforts – fits with the county’s commitment to nodal development
  • Casey Mastro talked about ideas for creating sustainable neighborhoods block by block
  • Fernando de Aragón noted the need for supporting greener development and discouraging sprawl through proper neighborhood planning
  • Martha talked about the PACE program, and Casey and Stacey Murphy underscored the importance of documenting energy savings over time.
  • Fernando talked about land use regulations – this idea might better fit under HUD community challenge grants
  • Biomass and district heating are good possibilities
  • City of Ithaca getting ready to apply for Tiger II grant to support installation of district heat piping as part of the renovation of the Commons
  • Bruce Abbott:  The Denmark company he represents is one of only two in the world capable of this kind of work
  • Bruce is willing to help the city cost out district heating on the commons; focus will be on underground infrastructure
  • Bert Bland indicated Cornell might be able to help out given its experience and expertise with district heating
  • Bert also pointed out opportunity for district heating project at East Hill Village that would connect to Cornell district heating

Marcellus Shale drilling and its potential impact on GHG emissions in Tompkins County: Martha  Robertson, Tony Ingraffea, Bob Howarth

  • Martha provided the larger context for the group’s discussion and noted the meeting in Binghamton last Saturday to establish the coalition to oppose Marcellus Shale drilling in New York until it could be demonstrated that it was safe
  • Legislation has been introduced in Albany to put a moratorium on drilling
  • Westchester Co. just passed a bill calling for a moratorium, joining Tompkins, Onandaga, and Cortland counties and two other counties
  • There are also groups calling for an outright ban
  • Tony outlined the scope of what the industry hopes to do in New York if it has free rein
  • Noted the need to talk about both spatial and temporal dimensions of drilling plans
  • A colleague of Tony’s at Penn State has collected data and categorized how productive wells are projected to be state by state
  • Tony walked through projections of how many cubic feet would be produced over a five year period based on eight wells per square mile (the necessary minimum to completely tap the gas)
  • 25% of US natural gas consumption – enough to meet national demand for 15 years
  • 9500 pads & 76,000 wells for Marcellus region alone
  • Provided series of slides with maps outlining what patterns of drilling would look like in Marcellus areas of NY
  • Pointed out the energy consumption over the past eight years has leveled off, raising the question of whether we need more total energy production
  • The other question is whether gas is the best answer – certainly not the only answer
  • Bob Howarth then turned to the issue of the impact of Marcellus gas drilling on GHG emissions.
  • Natural gas may emit only half of GHG of coal when burned but how much is emitted during the process of production? 
  • Fossil Fuels are becoming increasingly more diffuse and difficult to obtain 
  • Carbon sequestration lost when sites cleared
  • Combustion at sites is bigger problem = mud pumps, generators, compressors, etc. – mobile combustion also a significant contributor via trucks
  • Methane doesn’t hang around as long as CO2 but is far more potent than GHG (72 fold more effective than CO2 over 20 year period)
  • Methane leaks from pipeline, etc. and is very difficult to estimate
  • Current technology doesn’t even measure leaks lower than 5%
  • Bob used 1.5% in early analysis but confidential industry sources suggest it is significantly higher

MAY 2010

Energy Strategy Report: Katie Borgella

  • Katie provided an overview of the different “wedges” that the Energy Strategy is comprised of, focusing on the 10 initiatives within the “local wedge.” Request for the group to consider whether these represent the appropriate areas to focus on, and to think about what the important next step are:
    • PACE
    • Waste Diversion
    • Energy Business Partnership Program
    • Traffic Demand Management
    • Alternative Fuel Vehicles
    • County Government Energy Policy
    • County Facility Energy Improvements
    • Biomass for Rural Homes
    • District Heating Feasibility Study
    • Energy Roadmap
  • New energy code also plays into the Energy Strategy: 90% of all buildings must comply in the next 7-9 years
  • Fernando de Aragón: Our fleet may be more efficient than the national average because of the high percentage of hybrids, but the local DMV couldn’t provide this level of detail in time for the completion of the study
  • Ed Marx: The analysis focused on what the new vehicle fleet mix would be in the future
  • Fernando D: By 2020, there could be an 80-90% turnover to high efficiency vehicles – assumer a huge change in the current numbers found in the study
  • Tristram Coffin: How does the study account for AES Cayuga and the impact of hydrofracking?
  • Katie Borgella:
    • when emissions are quantified, energy that goes into a grid is not counted as it is not considered a local source of emissions
    • assumption is that the grid will get greener (fuel sources will be cleaner)
    • geothermal is embedded in PACE, renewables
    • future energy prices are not really projected in this study – assumes that prices will go up
    • population increase projects a 3.8% increase in energy usage, which is built into the business as usual scenario; 20% decrease in energy consumption by 2020 comes from this number (rather than current numbers)
    • the Energy Strategy is going before the Environmental Management Council and the Planning Committee in June (not taking it to the public before completion)
  • Bruce Abbott: AES Cayuga is very interested in district heating and also working with Travis and Travis to develop distributive energy
  • Need publicity and local media coverage to raise public awareness of what the County is doing
  • How do we raise public awareness about the plan at both regional and national levels?
  • Gary Stewart volunteered to take the lead on the effort, forming a task force to work on PR/outreach for the County Energy Strategy as well as finding ways to give TCCPI more public exposure
    • The group discussed the possibility of a collaboration between the Museum of the Earth, the Sciencenter, the History Center, the Discovery Trail, and TCCPI to showcase the local response to climate change
    • For promotion of County Energy Strategy, look at what other counties are doing as a way to set Tompkins County apart
    • Make use of County Public Information staff

PACE Letter of Support

  • Put letter from Katie (and info on PACE) on our website so that we can direct individual organizations to it
  • TCCPI will submit letter including list of members, with a note differentiating between the support of the individual and the support of their respective organizations (i.e. organizations for identification purposes only)

Update and Discussion of Energy Benchmarking Pilot:: Peter Bardaglio & Katie Stoner

  • Earth Aid/Compass – why is there resistance to pilot project?
  • Different needs: collective for the county to measure progress towards 2050 target, raising public awareness.
  • Two different tools? Fayettesville, Ark. using Earth Aid for citywide campaign
  • To what extent can we get the utility company to include data on NYSEG bills? Should we be focusing effort at state level to get NYSEG to agree to making data available? To what extent should we try to get the Public Services Commission involved?
  • What do you do if you work with small independent companies like Ehrhart Oil & Propane?
  • Ed says using ICCLE’s process for county planning purposes – we need to test ICLEI assumptions using individual tools
  • We need to get a better sense of what other communities are doing

Roundtable Updates

  • Rob Ross says PRI/Museum of the Earth is developing prototype of mobile exhibit; they’re gathering feedback from public and adapting prototype based on this feedback
  • Also PRI got NSF grant to develop educational materials on Marcellus Shale
  • Carol Warshawsky noted that ICSD is projecting significant decrease in energy bill: $435K savings
  • ICSD will be buying four more buses, which will be more energy efficient (clean diesel?)
  • Andrew Gil talked about AIA’s study of Ithaca – Gary Ferguson is taking the lead
  • Jon Jensen shared news about Exxon shareholders’ vote on Marcellus Shale resolution, which Park Foundation initiated: 26% support – first-time environment votes usually average about 5%
  • Liz Walker mentioned her new book coming out this fall and that TREE is going to sketch plan review with the Town of Ithaca
  • Marian said student-completed annual GHG emissions surveyed 5% drop last year – twice as much as target
  • Gay Nicholson reported on grant submission for residential energy and on Awakening the Dream program coming up
  • Carol Eckert announced that INHS has completed its fifth LEED platinum house; looking for LEED platinum for the Women’s Community Building project
  • Martha Robertson noted that the county is working on providing funding for the Women’s Community Building project
  • “Gasland” documentary is coming to Cinemapolis for two showings and there will be a rally
  • Barb Eckstrom reported that Tompkins County is one of the counties in the US included in a new book by UN on global waste
  • There are two grants – one from USDA on reducing waste in apartments and another grant working with local schools
  • Upgrade of TC solid waste facility planned as well
  • Katie Levedahl spoke of ScienceWorks project focusing on Green Business Challenge – initiating a pilot project in the fall
  • Gary Stewart talked about CU’s Sustainability News Blast – will put TCCPI members on distribution list
  • Tristram Coffin said that AFCU is pursuing carbon offsets with the Finger Lakes Climate Fund
  • Dominic mentioned that the leadership program dinner was very successful
  • Discussion underway about how to make Enfield Wind Project a community project – starting off with six to twenty turbines
  • A letter of intent for local governments will go to the Council of Governments in June

APRIL 2010

Net Energy Summary and Discussion: “Searching for a Miracle: ‘Net Energy’ Limits and the Fate of Industrial Society,” Richard Heinberg: Katie Stoner

  • Heinberg points out that the dominant economic growth model is based on an assumption of cheap fossil fuel
  • With the approach of peak oil, however, we need to come to grips with the reality of limits on growth
  • Need to reduce our energy consumption; not going to be able to avoid fundamental change as we go forward
  • Energy payback: how long until system produces as much energy as was invested in it to operate the system (solar panels)
  • Oil in the 1940s was the heyday of fossil fuels and produced ERGE of 100: 1; about 1:1 today
  • Full cost accounting is critical to developing a viable solution for the energy dilemma we face today
  • Everything will have cost and impact but if the choice leads to impacts greater than those we already have to deal with, especially in the area of GHG emissions, then we need to question the viability of the choice
  • New conservation ethic needs to replace unlimited growth mentality
  • Solutions are more viable if the reduction of energy demand is out of the mix
  • True cost accounting, relocalization, transition food systems, new measures for GDP that reflect human welfare – all these will be crucial to building sustainable future
  • Need to ratchet down consumption as a critical factor moving forward – this should be a focus of TCCPI’s mission.

Energy and Carbon Solutions for Ithaca: Simon Taranto, student in Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University

  •  Distributed generation: use of many small generation facilities
  • Combined heat and power:  co-generation – CHP plant reduces wasted energy from 60 % to 20%
  • CHP comprises 9% of US generation capacity – roughly equivalent to taking 45 million cars off the road
  • Can run CHP on many different fuels – 70% natural gas currently at Cornell
  • Proposed Emerson DG/CHP District in Ithaca would be community owned – Emerson Transmission building would be converted
  • Heat output would be about 7 million square feet of thermal heat
  • Would it make sense to establish a blue ribbon task force and pass legislation to establish an energy improvement district? 
  • Important time to consider moving in this direction
  • Herb Engman floated the idea of converting the Emerson plant to CHP – lots of interest in using the property for residential development
  • Bruce Abbot has submitted a proposal to the city that was developed by a Danish firm

David Orr Itinerary for upcoming Ithaca visit: Peter Bardaglio

  • Peter reviewed the plans for David Orr’s visit to Ithaca on May 6-7
  • David will deliver public lecture at the Borg-Warner Room of the County Library on Thursday evening
  • Then Friday morning will meet with faculty and students at New Roots Charter High School
  • Cayuga Medical Center is hosting a luncheon for David, TCCPI members, and other invited guests from the Ithaca Community following the New Roots visit
  • David’s trip will wrap up with a tour of the new Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise and Peggy Ryan Williams Center at Ithaca College
  • Marian Brown will be conducting the IC tour and others welcome to join

MARCH 2010

Energy Efficiency Retrofits for Rental Commercial Properties: Donna Benwitz, Paul Rode, and Mark Turner, Johnson Controls

  • Donna Benwitz and Paul Rode walked group through development process
  • They are looking for behavior changes – for example, are lights going out at the end of the day? Have to reeducate people
  • Donna and Paul presented a brief overview of the projects in Ithaca and Tompkins county and then focused on the Empire State Building project
  • JCI adopted a “whole business” approach with the Empire State Building project and didn’t just deal with operations
  • Amory Lovins the Rocky Mountain Institute worked with JCI
  • Paul and Mark explained different mechanisms for financing energy efficiency projects; PACE, ESCOs, traditional bonding, equipment leasing
  • PACE is a great way of leveraging bonding capacity of municipalities
  • Ed Marx said legislation that exists today only involves federal funding; they still need to pass legislation that will enable loans
  • Another way to sell PACE is that is generates lots of jobs
  • Katie Borgella said legislation will be introduced in April that will allow municipalities to move beyond federal grants
  • Paul said mortgage industry hates PACE because mortgages take junior position to the PACE loans – PACE has to be paid off first
  • Katie B. said PACE Now has drafted material to support the adoption of new material to support the legislation\

Workplace Flextime & Energy Consumption: Lynette Chappell-Williams, Cornell University and Gillian Gutierriez, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Dept. of Labor

  • Lynette Chappell-Williams provided an overview of various flexible work options at Cornell: flex time, job share, reduced hours, flexplace/telecommute/remote work, compressed work week
  • Nationally, 54% of large corporations in 2009 offer flex time and telecommuting offered by 45% 
  • Cornell has 11000 employees coming in from 8 different counties and seeks to reduce to its carbon footprint and operating costs through flextime and telecommuting
  • In 2005 the “Bold Initiative” project nationally lead to significant results for participating companies
  • The average American spends 264 hours a year commuting to and from work
  • 92% of the respondents in the survey felt they could do their work from home
  • Today’s incoming workforce expects flexible work options – Gen X and Y
  • Aging baby boomers, who are often some of the most highly productive workers in organizations are more likely to stay on with flexible work options
  • Compressed work week initiatives are being adopted by states and municipalities across the country
  • Benefits include: overall reduction in carbon emissions, better load management, traffic benefits, a less stressed community
  • Among the barriers are dependent care issues (currently pegged to standard work hours), bus schedules and transportation and limited off peak hours, community resources that are offered only during standard hours – also small employers may not be able to flex as easily
  • Gillian Gutierriez from the Women’s Bureau said flex options in the 21st century goals are to increase the understanding of benefits for employers and employees
  • They started as a way to retain employees – since recession is now seen as way to avoid laying people off
  • Flex is also seen as a way to promote sustainability 

Roundtable Updates

  • Carol Warshawsky said Brad Granger met with Donna Benwitz of JCI to discuss energy efficiency
  • ISCD will probably undertake projects beginning next year
  • ICSD is also discussing flexible work options
  • Marion Brown said there are two more residential halls that will become Energy Star eligible
  • They have just completed a one year analysis of the new Business School building and it is running 41% below the national average
  • Dominic reported that the Town of Caroline’s new building uses geothermal
  • Natalie Zandt said 11 people have submitted authorizations; they’ve also contacted various business about becoming Earth Aid reward partners
  • Dominic is looking to find additional homeowners to talk about the benefits of energy efficiency retrofits
  • Jon Jenson said the Park Foundation approved the extension of Cooperative Extension Education program grant to the Ithaca Housing Authority and visited a hydro-fracking site in PA
  • Katie Borgella said they will be bringing latest draft of the county’s latest 2020 energy strategy to the next meeting
  • Several towns have received NYSERDA grants totaling about $2 million – Dryden, Town of Ithaca, City of Ithaca, Lansing
  • Fernando talked about the new initiative “Way to Go” for alternative transportation options
  • NYSRDA provided a grant for an automated ride-share program
  • Burt Bland visited Binghamton University and participated in a panel on Moving Beyond Coal sponsored by the Sierra Club
  • Binghamton is the last coal fired campus in the state
  • Cornell’s Life Sciences Building will receive NYSERDA award for energy efficiency performance on April 21


Report from Copenhagen: Dominic Frongillo

  • Dominic reported on his trip to Copenhagen for the Climate Change Conference (COP15)
  • Notable takeaways included:
    • Youth movement is unprecedented and burgeoning (100,000 students marched, delivered petition containing more than 15 million signatures calling for action)
    • State and local governments are driving policy and action at the federal level – highlighted the importance of what we’re doing in Tompkins County
    • Citizens must put political pressure on leaders 

Earth Aid/Compass Pilot Project: Dominic Frongillo and Natalie Zandt

  • TCCPI is moving forward with the residential energy tracking pilot program using two software tools side-by-side: Earth Aid and Compass.
  • The pilot is intended to assess the feasibility of using some combination of the two tools to implement a residential energy tracking and retrofit program on a community-wide scale, which will ultimately require:
    • Financing mechanisms for homeowners (to address upfront cost & risk)
    • Skilled workforce (and thus training)
    • Market demand
    • The program will run for approximately three months at which point the group will reconvene to assess and analyze the outcomes of the program and determine action steps for moving forward
    • Natalie and Dominic walked the group through the Home Energy Benchmarking Form to be used in the pilot to collect data – participants will fill out form and submit to CCE for data entry (for Compass)
    • Natalie and Dominic explained the process for using Earth Aid, which entails signing up for an account online
    • Natalie is currently working to recruit local businesses to offer rewards to support the Earth Aid incentives model
    • Long term strategies include working towards providing everyone in the county with this data, ideally through the utility.
    • Privacy policy was formalized with Earth Aid and they also removed the carbon selling clause from the agreement – they won’t sell our information and they will retire our carbon credits
    • Ed mentioned that we should be working towards providing this data to all utility customers through the utility itself
    • Jon H. emphasized the importance of providing feedback to utility customers to increase awareness and motivate behaviors that conserve energy
    • Such tools also help us determine where the energy-saving opportunities lie as well as where homeowners can yield the most benefits

Tompkins County Planning & Public Works “Energy Strategy”: Leslie Schill

  • Leslie presented the draft energy strategy for implementing the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element of the County’s Comprehensive Plan
  • The Plan closely models the Fort Collins, CO plans, as well as some of the local educational institutions’ plans
  • Members of TCCPI were called upon to provide feedback, comments, and suggestions to aid in the finalization of the draft, which is set to be ready for adoption by early summer 2010
  • In addition, the Planning Advisory Board and the Environmental Management Council will be asked to review
  • Peter reminded the group that one of TCCPI’s major goals is to support this effort – the 80% by 2050 reduction in GHG emissions in Tompkins County
  • As the first big push toward the overall reduction of 80% by 2050, the Tompkins County 2020 Energy Strategy seeks to achieve the initial milestone of a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020
  • The county’s new energy code will be ready for adoption by this summer – the sooner we can train code officials and implement the new code, the better
  • If funding becomes available TCP&PW will be hiring people to help implement plan

Finger Lakes Climate Fund: Sean Vormwald, Sustainable Transitions

  • The Finger Lakes Climate Fund (still in development stages), is set to launch in approximately one month
  • The FLCF is providing businesses, organizations, institutions, and citizens the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets (for the home, car travel, and air travel) that will reinvest money into a fund that will provide grants to local energy efficiency projects
  • Examples include residential energy projects for low to middle income residents in Tompkins County, and the fund will help to pay for insulation, air sealing, heating system upgrades, and other measures to reduce energy consumption
  • The program is modeled after several climate funds whose focus is on keeping money local by funding local projects – Calculate emissions à Purchase Carbon Offsets à Put Your Credits to Work Locally
  • Carbon calculator developed by a local community member (tied to Google Maps, uses World Resources Institute equation)
  • Offsets are $20 per ton
  • The revenue will support projects that are already getting Assisted Home Performance (50% of work paid for), with the FLCF contributing an additional 25%
  • FLCF will claim 100% of the reductions, based on the assumption that the work would not have been possible without additional contributions from FLCF (this means that NYSERDA, contractors, and homeowners cannot count credits)
  • Right now, there are no rules governing voluntary carbon markets
  • As of now, the grants aren’t being allocated through a particular organization

Other News and Updates from Members

  • City of Ithaca has committed to reducing GHG emissions by 20% from 2001 levels by 2016
  • The new Cayuga Medical Center wing received LEED Silver certification, the first medical facility in the state to earn LEED Silver
  • Alternatives Federal Credit Union reduced utility bills by $9000 and energy consumption by 20%
  • The Park Foundation contributed $600,000 to programs and projects dealing with the Marcellus Shale issue
  • The Ithaca City School District has created a green team for each building, has successfully implemented a composting program, and is seeking funding to complete energy efficiency upgrades on existing buildings
  • TC3 has started to inventory their energy consumption, has installed a solar array, and is starting to offer solar/wind installation training as part of its curriculum
  • PRI/Museum of the Earth is working on a manuscript for a climate change book

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

Meeting Highlights: 2010