to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

December 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018

December 2018

Keep It Cool Tompkins – Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman

Tilden and Abigail are local high school students who won one of Sustainable Tompkins’ Youth Climate Challenge grants to carry out a Keep It Cool Tompkins project aimed at educating businesses about converting to climate-friendly refrigerants. They shared their findings with the    group on this important climate protection issue.

  • Project focused on refrigerants, their impact on climate, and different options with lower global warming potential (GWP)
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have GWP of 12-14,800 x CO2
  • R404A is most common, and one of the worst (GWP 2088)
  • Even though HFCs and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were phased out as a result of Montreal Protocol, they persist in many systems
  • CFCs and HCFCs, phased out in 1987, replaced mostly with HFC, which does not affect ozone layer but has very high GWP
  • Kigali Amendment (2016) will phase out HFCs starting in 2020
  • HFC also lasts a long time in atmosphere – most common refrigerant in home refrigerators, R134A, lasts about 14 yrs in atmosphere
  • About 875 lbs HFCs leaked by the average supermarket every year (~25% of system, which is top level allowed to leak by EPA) – equal to 300 x emissions of car
  • Keep It Cool formed to build awareness about effects of refrigerants on environment
  • Campaign starting with monitoring leaking, especially in businesses
  • Then will look more into moving people to alternatives to HFCs
  • Reached out to Wegmans, experts at EPA, and others
  • Targeting businesses to replace their HFCs with refrigerants with much lower GWPs, but first step they’re working on now is to properly maintain the existing systems by monitoring leaks and keeping them to a minimum
  • Certifications available through LEED and EPA, some of which carry potential for rebates and other incentives
  • Reducing leaks saves money – replacing the leaked amount can cost more than $90/lb
  • Alternatives include CO2 (GWP of 1), ammonia (GWP of 0), Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs, with very low GWPs)
    • CO2 functions the same as HFC and refrigerators with CO2 are readily available and only slightly more expensive – ammonia chillers exist today
  • Consumers are next target, after businesses
    • Seek to increase their knowledge about issue
    • Spur activists to get engaged with local businesses
    • Purchase products with newer alternative refrigerants – market is not quite ripe for consumers
  • Forum being planned for early 2019 and continued outreach anticipated
  • Future of refrigeration:
    • We’re in transition period as a result of Kigali Amendment – US has not ratified it yet; but thanks to business potential there is broad support
    • Thanks to social, environmental, and financial benefits, simple awareness should go a long way even without enforcement of any legislation
  • Questions / discussion:
  • Concern about leakage of refrigerants in heat pumps especially as we seek to push heat pumps as alternative to fossil fuels
    • Technology on the market now that uses CO2, but it’s very early stages of development
    • CO2 doesn’t work well in warm and humid climates; limitations of other types
  • Who is making money by keeping older HFCs on market?
    • Many major players relied largely on HFCs but most are developing alternatives, so will still be in marketplace
  • Would like more information on costs and alternatives currently available today
  • Retrofitting:
    • Can easily go from CFC to HFC and to a variety of HFCs, but switching to CO2 or ammonia, or other chemicals is much more involved (e.g., CO2 requires much higher pressures; ammonia degrades copper pipes) – HFOs easier to use in existing systems
  • Suggestion: carry out inventory of local business refrigeration systems and see what the collective impact is and what it could be if they all changed over—could be done in collaboration with Engaged Cornell, possibly with County Planning


Energy Smart Community Residential Customer Survey – Charleen Heidt

Charleen serves as the community outreach coordinator of the NYSEG Energy Smart Community program. She present the results of the latest Energy Smart Community Residential Customer Survey.

  • 2018 survey results were following up on 2016 benchmark results (actual slides will be available)
  • Focus: wanted to know consumer interest in/knowledge of Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI), known more generally as smart meters, time of use rates, and distributed energy resource products and services (NYSEG Smart Solutions; including solar, energy efficiency)
  • Gathered data from County residents in the Energy Smart Community (ESC) footprint who received smart meters), County residents outside of footprint, and NYSEG customers outside the County
  • Data presented today limited to just first two groups
  • Main ESC offerings for residents:
    • NYSEG Smart Solutions – marketplace of products and services
    • Energy Manager – available to people with NYSEG smart meters (AMI)
    • Energy Track Report – available quarterly to people with AMI
    • Smart Usage Plan (i.e., time of use rate plan available to AMI customers)
  • Subsampled with telephone interviews to supplement data from e-mail surveys – there were no significant differences, so can proceed with e-mail surveys
  • E-mail survey included raffle for $250 gift card
  • Response rates doubled over 2016; hit targets within first few days (~12%)
  • Have gender, age, education, income, and homeownership demographics

October 2018

Talanoa Dialogue Report – Allison Chatrchyan

 Allison is the director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and Senior Research Associate in the Departments of Development Sociology and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences.

  • The Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and TCCPI held a community meeting on October 3 at the Tompkins County Public Library as part of the UN’s Talanoa Dialogue process
  • Provided guiding questions at the meeting aimed at collecting information on actions Tompkins County is taking to reduce its carbon footprint
  • Allison and her students put together a draft report based on that conversation as well as responses to an online survey and additional research data on climate change in Tompkins County
  • Deadline for submission of the report is October 29 – will become part of the official dialogue at COP24 in Poland
  • The group reviewed the draft and offered suggestions and comments – in particular, members asked for additional details to be provided about the anti-fracking movement in the region
  • Peter will make sure this information is included in the report and will provide other edits over the weekend


Tompkins County Business Energy Advisors Program – Andrea Aguirre

Andrea, senior planner and energy specialist in the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability, discussed the Business Energy Advisors program, which assists business owners to evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy options for new construction, renovation, and expansion projects.

  • Tompkins County goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 2008 by 2050
  • Business Energy Advisors Program seeks to help businesses do their part in reducing these emissions while meeting their specific facility needs
  • Partners: TCAD, NYSERDA, and Tompkins County – stakeholders include Ithaca 2030 District, TCCPI, and the City of Ithaca Sustainability Program
  • The program seeks to assist businesses in setting energy goals and understanding energy options during earliest stages of project design and conceptualization
  • Three-year program focused on new construction and major renovations
  • Why participate in the program?
    • Receive up to $3K of advising from energy experts
    • Understand options to save energy and operational costs
    • Obtain advice on incentives, financing, and application processes
    • Receive assistance with setting and achieving your energy goals
    • Gain recognition for your participation and commitment
    • Contribute to environmental and energy goals of community
  • Taitem Engineering and CJ Brown are consultants providing advice
  • Who can participate in the program?
    • Businesses considering new construction, major renovation or expansion
    • Eligible sectors: commercial, retail, multifamily (5+ units), manufacturing, R&D, etc.
    • Building must be located in Tompkins County
  • Process initiated by program inquiry or referral
  • Next step is introductory meeting to share information about offerings and goals of program
  • Energy options report created: connects with available programs: NYSERDA, NYSEG, Energize NY/PACE – forwarded to stakeholders
  • Then hold energy charrette base on options and financing programs – solutions that make the most sense
  • Follow up on goals – how are things going?
  • Final steps: closeout meeting and report, building benchmarking
  • Program just getting started – official launch this past Wednesday – but started working with businesses as long as two months ago
  • So far there have been 10 program inquiries and 8 intro meetings – 4 energy option reports and 2 energy charrettes
  • How can I participate?
    • Attend introductory meeting
    • Participate in energy charrette
    • Set practical and aspirational energy goals for project
    • Identify an energy manager or champion for building
    • Participate in program close-out meeting
    • Share building energy consumption data for year after project completion
  • Business confidentiality key component of program – requires trust and confidence between business, program managers, and energy consultants
  • Business data, detailed analyses, and reports are between business, program managers, and energy consultants
  • Program case studies may be developed if ok with business
  • Questions
    • What is first point of contact that could refer potential projects to BEA Program? Planning and Building Permit Departments – Andrea has taken initial steps to develop relationships with key actors in these departments – primarily word of mouth so far
    • Who decides which of two consultants is best fit for particular project? Location of project, state of development, timeline of project, availability of consultant are all factors taken into account – steering committee includes representatives from TCAD, Tompkins County, and NYSERDA
    • Any way to put some teeth in program so that it isn’t just a question of outreach? Green building policy could be driver – also IDA offers tax rebates for energy enhanced efforts – calls for 40%+ better than code


2030 Districts Network Summit – Peter Bardaglio

Peter serves as the executive director of the Ithaca 2030 District. He provided an overview of the recent 2030 Districts Network Summit and the key issues addressed there.

  • The Network had its sixth annual summit last week in Stamford, CT – now consists of 20 established districts and three emerging ones – San Diego is the newest member
  • Stamford mayor in welcome spoke about how Superstorm Sandy underscored need to make buildings more resilient – head of Business Council of Fairfield County also made this point
  • Keynote address by Kristen Sullivan, Deloitte sustainability consultant
  • Identified following key issues for sustainable development: unprecedented urbanization, climate change, resource scarcity, population growth, human rights, demographic shifts, and income inequality
  • New CEO for 2030 Districts Network introduced at summit: Catherine Olteanu – strong development and communications background
  • Top priorities will be fundraising and communications strategy, with emphasis on social media
  • Luncheon keynote talk by Tom Chase of New Ecology – focused on building-level resiliency
  • Met with NYC 2030 Emerging District team and talked about ways we could collaborate going forward – one of Ithaca 2030 District building owners lives in NYC and is involved in launching 2030 District there
  • NYC 2030 District organized around Brooklyn Navy Yard
  • Peter presented a case study on HOLT Architects office as near net-zero project and Aurora presented on how Ithaca 2030 District developed its water baseline and metrics
  • All of the 2030 District directors met for lunch on the second day and shared progress reports and talked with new CEO about her priorities
  • Other program highlights included presentation from Grand Rapids on Zero City Program – involves 12 cities, including Cambridge, Boulder, and Palo Alto as well as Grand Rapids
  • Three-year grant funded project to develop policy roadmap toward zero net carbon building sector in these cities by 2050
  • Burlington 2030 District presentation also very interesting, especially because they work very closely with local utility, Burlington Electric Department – operated by city
  • Discussed how they develop custom energy plan for each of building owners who are members in the 2030 District
  • Another really interesting presentation: Tristan Jackson, head of Advisian/WorleyParsons’ distributed energy and microgrid initiative, talked about new digital platform with Xendee, tech company in San Diego – can generate bankable feasibility study for projects in just days or weeks instead of months


September 2018

Repowering Cayuga Power Plant – Irene Weiser

Irene Weiser, co-founder of Fossil Free Tompkins and member of the Caroline Town Board, examined the recent proposal to repower the Cayuga Power Plant in Lansing with natural gas and updated the group on the efforts of No Fracked Gas Cayuga (nofrackedgascayuga.org/) to stop this proposed conversion.

  • Cayuga Power Plant built in 1950s – two generating units with name plates of 155MW and 167MW – 434 acres
  • Owned by NYSEG until 1998, then AES Cayuga until 2012, Upstate NY Power Produces until 2016, and most recently by Heorot (Blackstone is parent company)
  • Declared bankruptcy in December 2011, and taken over by UNYPP in summer 2012
  • Applied to mothball in 2012 right after UNYPP purchased it but turned down because of grid reliability issues
  • Received reliability subsidy from January 2013 until July 2017 until Auburn transmission upgrades were completed – totaled about $188M
  • Reliability: provide needed energy without stressing system
  • Newcore, steel recycling program in Auburn, consumers large amounts of electricity
  • Cayuga Power Plant provided electricity during hot summer months
  • With upgrades completed, subsidy stopped in 2017
  • Coal ash landfill at Cayuga Power Plant major issue – 50 of 55 groundwater monitoring wells polluted above federal advisory levels between 2/1/10 and 9/1/15
  • About 2517 gallons of leachate discharged each year into lake
  • January 11, 2015: Unit 1 generator had emergency incident – out of service for 8 months
  • April 6, 2016: Fire in stack of Unit 2 – stack and emission control irreparably damaged
  • In April 2018 Cayuga Operating Company applied for modification of Title V air emissions permit
  • Two potential scenarios: 1) Unit 2 conversion to gas only; and 2) convert both Units 1 & 2 to natural gas
  • Expect permit approval within one year to operate at 77% capacity
  • Unit 2 construction to commence March 2019 – deliver compressed natural gas by truck
  • Unit 1 would continue to burn coal for now
  • DEC proposed rule to halt coal by the end of 2020
  • Possible pipeline if/when Unit 1 converted to gas
  • DEC application for 30 trucks per day between 6 am and 3 pm
  • But Cayuga Power press release stated 25-60 trucks per day
  • 25-60 trucks per day would translate into 50-120 truck trips per day as trucks traveled to and from plant
  • That would mean 90 to 200% increase in truck traffic along Rt 34B
  • Cayuga Power has barely operated at all between July 2017 and May 2018 according to Unt 2 generation history data tracking capacity factor and days in operation
  • Annual capacity factor has dropped from 37% in 2014 to %5 in 2017
  • Goal is to operate at average 77% capacity factor with daily and monthly variability
  • When operating at 100% , it would take about 90 trucks traveling to and from power plant
  • Trucks would come from Forest Lake in Susquehanna County, PA – shortest route would be 83 miles
  • Would travel by 17 healthcare facilities, 20 daycare centers, 4 private schools and 21 public schools
  • Roughly 12 significant safety incidents involving natural gas trucks in NY between February 2017 and July 2018
  • Power plant had property value of $160M in 2009 and dropped to $20M in 2018 – major impact on property tax revenue in Lansing, primarily on school district
  • Overall property value in Lansing has increased from $830M to $940M in 2018, despite loss of property value at Cayuga Power Plant
  • California has banned conversion of plants from coal to gas – replaced by solar + storage
  • This option should be explored rather than converting Cayuga Power Plan to gas
  • Tompkins County Legislature should urge DEC to reject proposal to convert plant to gas and instead urge Cayuga Operating Company to pursue options for solar + storage


The NYSEG RFP for Nonpipe Alternatives – Irene Weiser and Ken Schlather

NYSEG recently issued an RFP for nonpipe alternatives in Tompkins County that failed to attract much interest from developers. Irene and Ken Schlather, the executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, explained how NYSEG plans to reissue the RFP and what that means for the community.

  • NYSEG RFP in December 2017 failed to attract significant interest from developers
  • Poorly done and unsuccessful overall
  • Looking for 430K cubic feet per hour – would have been capcity of pipeline that was defeated
  • Not necessarily what you need for reliability
  • If no further development in Lansing, no reliability issues
  • But there is pent up demand and hope for future growth
  • How do we ensure that next RFP is successful
  • Potentially $17-18M in funding available for nonpipe alternatives
  • ConEd put out nonpipe alternative RFP at about same time – much more successful in attracting attention
  • ConEd was much more pro-active in getting word out about RFP through various organizations such as Sierra Club and local community groups – also reached out to building owners
  • How can we work with NYSEG to produce successful RFP?
  • Small group that had been part of original energy and economic development task force working on this
  • How do we coordinate outreach to potential developers?
  • Could NYSEG provide rebates for heat pumps? Only utility in NY that doesn’t provide these rebates
  • Need to show that there is capacity to generate effective nonpipe alternatives
  • One suggestion for RFP: if reduction below certain level, then the developer could simply submit pre-proposal to NYSEG that could potentially be funded out of $17M

August 2018

Empower Equity – Herb Dwyer

Herb Dwyer is the CEO of Empower Equity (Empeq), Inc., a subscription-based service focusing on energy efficiency, including heat pumps, for small and midsize businesses. Herb provided an overview of the goals and approach of the company, which has offices in Ithaca and New York City and is a member of REV: Ithaca Startup Works and the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator in Binghamton.

  • Most businesses don’t spend money to fix things that aren’t broken
  • Empeq focuses on commercial and industrial sector for energy efficiency
  • Only 12% LED lighting penetration in U.S. commercial sector – 8% industrial
  • Lighting represents about 40% of commercial energy consumption
  • Incentives alone won’t solve problem – as long as customers have to spend money out of pocket, energy efficiency adoption will remain low
  • Third party ownership model s haven’t made their way into small commercial energy projects until now
  • Overhead costs too high for risk and return for most investors
  • Energy efficiency business-as-usual will not enable us to quickly scale up
  • What about adopting waste management business model? Energy efficiency as service
  • Current collaborations:
    • ConEd ASHP & VFR program – Empeq partnered with Mitsubishi Electric & ICF – ASHP deployment in commercial & multifamily properties -- $20-50M project
    • Orange & Rockcland: turning old NYSERDA Flextech reports into real projects – focus on municipalities
    • NYSERDA: NYSERDA Portfolio Company – working with NY Green Bank, part of NYSERDA – recently awarded large grant by NYSERDA to scale up
    • Tompkins County: CCE, LATC, Energize NY, NYSERDA & Empeq – also working with HEATSMART Tompkins – education charette for local landlords & business owners


Climate Change in the News – Peter Bardaglio

If it’s August, then it must be time for a review of the year’s climate change developments. This summer, in particular, has seen a wave of extreme weather events in the northern hemisphere. Peter explored why this has been happening, shifts in American attitudes towards climate change in 2018, and recent trends in federal climate policy.

  • In April, Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded average concentration of atmospheric CO2 above 410 parts per million (ppm)
  • Highest monthly average in recorded history – in fact, according to ice core records, highest in at least 800,000 years
  • Clearly headed for temperature increases of 4ºC or more
  • Few nations have plans aligned with Paris Agreement targets
  • Rich countries that have generated most to GHG buildup aren’t providing enough help for poorer ones
  • 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy issued in June
  • Biggest increases in 2017 CO2 emissions occurred in emerging nations – 4.4% jump in India and 1.6% gain in China – rise of 1.5% in EU
  • CO2 emissions fell for third straight year in U.S. but estimated 30% increase in methane emissions since 2002 probably offsets these reductions
  • Use of renewables has surged but still not displacing coal
  • According to BP data, coal’s share of power generation globally has changed little over past three decades
  • Most sobering climate change news of year so far?
  • “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” – study released in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in early August
  • Even with increase of 2°C series of feedback loops could occur, pushing climate into permanent hothouse state – 4 to 6°C higher
  • “These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another. It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the row of dominoes from tumbling over.”
  • Close runner up: Atlantic Conveyor Belt
  • April report: Gulf Stream system (AMOC) at its weakest in 1,600 years
  • Declined15-20% over past 150 years due to increased carbon emissions
  • Rising sea levels on U.S. East Coast – disrupted weather patterns across North America, Europe, and north Africa
  • Increase in frequency of extreme weather events, like flooding, drought, and winter storms.
  • Another close runner up: Arctic sea ice
  • August report: Arctic’s oldest and thickest sea ice breaks up for first time on record
  • Open waters north of Greenland normally frozen even in summer – previously seen as last ice area but no more
  • Usually below zero but earlier this year 10 days above freezing – record high of 63°F in mid-August
  • 2018 shaping up to be fourth-hottest year on record
  • Only years hotter were three previous ones
  • 17 out of warmest years since modern record-keeping began have occurred since 2001
  • In lower 48 U.S., May to July ranked as hottest ever
  • Average temperature of 70.9°F: 3.4°F above average
  • Extreme weather events have taken place throughout northern hemisphere this summer
  • Heatwaves have shattered records and sparked wildfires of unprecedented size and intensity
  • Heatwaves in northern hemisphere clearly linked to global warming
  • Rising temperatures in Arctic and loss of sea ice slows flow of polar jet stream from west to east
  • Jet stream driven by collisions between cold air descending southward from Arctic and warm air pushing northward from equator
  • Temperature gap determining power of jet stream has narrowed because Arctic warming twice as fast as rest of planet – high and low pressure fronts “getting stuck”
  • Hottest July and worst drought in Sweden since record-keeping began 260 years ago – rainfall only about 1/7 of normal amount
  • More than 80 wildfires, with 11 north of Arctic Circle – also massive wildfires in Siberia
  • More than 90 people died from extreme heat in Quebec during first week of July
  • Most of deaths occurred in Montreal where temperature reached mid-90s – 20 degrees higher than normal
  • Thousands of people forced from their homes this summer in U.S. West, especially in California and Colorado
  • Unprecedented wildfires sparked by extreme heat and drought – reached 120°F in Chino, CA on July 6
  • So far in 2018 total of 5,319 fires in California have burned more than 1.2 million acres
  • Largest fire in state’s history burned more than 400,000 acres in Mendocino in July
  • In less than two months this summer state spent $405 million on fighting fires – only $443 million set aside for entire year
  • New state report projects number of acres burned in wildfires in average year will increase 77% by end of century
  • Adds up to half-million more acres of wildfires in average year
  • Heatwave in late July sent 23,000 people to hospital & killed 65 – record of 106°F in city outside Tokyo – weather agency declared heatwave natural disaster
  • Record rainfall in Japan in early July caused flooding and landslides leading to at least 179 deaths – highest death toll caused by rainfall in Japan since 1982
  • 6 million people ordered to evacuate – 270,000 households had water supplies cut
  • Wide geographical spread of heatwave across four continents suggests global warming played key role
  • “That pattern is something we wouldn’t be seeing without climate change,” says British climate scientist Peter Stott
  • How do we know these are not isolated, unrelated events but rather part of a longer-term process that is nowhere near reaching its climax?
  • Researchers, based on historical weather records and climate models, now able to draw links between extreme weather events and climate change, and even quantify them
  • World Weather Attribution project – international coalition of scientists – issued study in July: Europe's record-breaking heatwave twice as likely to have occurred because of human-caused warming
  • Kim Cobb, professor of earth and atmospheric science at Georgia Institute of Technology: “What we’re seeing today is making me, frankly, calibrate not only what my children will be living but what I will be living, what I am currently living. We haven’t caught up to it. I haven’t caught up to it, personally.”
  • Last week Trump administration scrapped Obama’s Clean Power Plan, keystone of U.S. climate policy
  • New plan allows states to set own rules for regulating power plants or request permission to opt out altogether
  • EPA estimates Trump plan will lead to 1,400 additional premature deaths a year from increased coal-burning
  • New approach expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants up to 1.5% by 2030 if all states implement effective plans
  • Well below the 32% reduction target by 2030 from 2005 level set by Obama’s Clean Power Plan
  • Dramatic about-face on national climate action – Trump’s second major move in less than a month: plan to freeze fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks
  • How do Americans view climate change in 2018?
  • Seven in ten Americans think climate change is happening
  • Nearly half of all Americans are sure that global warming is happening – at its highest level since 2008
  • More than half of all Americans think global warming is mostly caused by humans
  • Four in ten Americans say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming – up ten percentage points since March 2015
  • A majority of Americans are worried about harm from extreme events in their local area
  • What do we do?
  • Three choices in response to climate change: mitigation, adaptation, or suffer consequences of what we fail to mitigate or adapt to
  • Heading for some mitigation, very little adaptation, and lot of suffering
  • But climate change a practical political problem – huge political changes have happened in past and continue to do so
  • Some good news this week: on Wednesday California Assembly passed legislation to transition state’s electricity grid to 100% renewable energy by 2045
  • Goes to State Senate next and then to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature
  • California would become largest economy in world to commit to zero carbon electricity

July 2018

Mid-Scale Wind Development in Tompkins County – Gentry Rouse

Gentry Rouse is the Business Development Manager of Northern Power Systems. Tompkins County has contracted with Northern Power Systems to carry out a distributed wind project feasibility study. Gentry provided an overview of the study and its goals.

  • The report commissioned by the County Planning and Sustainability Department
  • Report was originally aimed at mid-scale but soon became apparent that focus should be expanded to include 10-500 KW turbines
  • Involves wind generation on distribution network, not transmission
  • Can get remote net metering credit for wind power up to 2 MW
  • Focus on following wind resource heights:
    • 21 meters/68 ft
    • 37 meter/121 ft
    • 50 meters/164 ft
  • Concluded that market size should be organized as follows:
  • 10-50 KW residential to small commercial
  • 51-500 KW small commercial
  • Looked at following farms in Tomkins County as models:
    • Stick and Stone Farm – 25 KW (residential)
    • Snow Farm – also 35 KW but higher hub height
    • Walnut Ridge – 250 & 500 KW
  • Can interconnect with single phase up to 50 KW – after 50 KW need to interconnect with three phase
  • Smaller turbines make more intrusive noise than larger ones – taller turbines have larger flicker footprint than smaller turbines
  • NYSERDA has incentives for small wind based on production
  • Wind not subject to VDER tariff – base on remote net metering
  • Conclusion: County has potential for distributed wind but man of opportunities will be 10-50 KW systems – can be connected to single-phase system

Talanoa Dialogue – Allison Chatrchyan and Mitch Lee

A continuation of our conversation from June with Allison Morrill Chatrchyan, Director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and Senior Research Associate in the Departments of Development Sociology and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, and Cornell student Mitch Lee about organizing a community event this fall to gather input for COP24 in December.

  • Would like to collect information on all actions Tompkins county is taking to reduce its carbon footprint
  • Will provide this information to UN for COP24 in Poland – would get reviewed and become part of official dialogue
  • Organized guiding questions for two-hour event
  • Will streamline questions for actual event – half hour for each part and then 15 minute intro at beginning and wrap up at end
  • Deadline for submission through Cornell is October 29 – should probably plan to do event sometime in September or early October
  • Would seek to involve the broader community – perhaps hold it at the Tompkins County Public Library in the BorgWarner Room
  • Best would be an early evening on day when there are no other competing events – probably Monday would be best
  • Allison will check on availability of BorgWarner Room
  • County will submit request as part of its contribution
  • Ken Schlather: Story that needs to be told: individuals working together with their communities has been most effective approach


  • Joe Wilson passed binder around that included detailed information related to Cornell’s planned expansion of North Campus
  • Irene Weiser updated group on two topics: 1) effort to convert Cayuga Power Plant to natural gas; and 2) NYSEG nonpipe alternative RFP
  • Ingrid Zable: NOAA webinars on latest findings regarding climate change – Peter will get link from Ingrid and send out to group
  • Allison: NYC Climate Week will be Sept. 21 to 28 – Cornell will be participating
  • Chuck Geisler: working on raising money for Teacher Friendly Guide to Climate Change – focusing on West Virginia—working closely with science teachers in state – halfway toward goal of raising $3K

June 2018

The Park Foundation’s Environment Program – Amy Panek

Amy Panek serves as Senior Program Officer for the Park Foundation’s Environment Program. Amy provided an overview of the various initiatives supported by the Park Foundation in this area.

  • Focus of Park’s Environment Program is twofold:
    • Source water: ensuring that drinking water is clean, affordable, and accessible is always top of mind
    • Energy: supporting efforts in NYS that decrease reliance on fossil fuels, especially natural gas
  • Foundation supported antifracking movement in state and is now challenging expansion of natural gas infrastructure, including pipelines, compressor stations and new natural gas power plants
  • Amy works on energy and climate issues at state level through the foundation’s Environment Program
  • Park Foundation sees grassroots activism as key to moving forward
  • Education and outreach are carried out as part of this activism – also advocacy – but does not engage in education directly

Cornell’s North Campus Expansion – Discussion

Cornell has announced new plans for the expansion of the North Campus. There is significant concern in the community about the possible use of natural gas for this project. Cornell will be submitting a Site Plan Review application to the City and Town of Ithaca later this summer, accompanied by a detailed energy analysis as part of the SEQR environmental assessment.

  • Joe Wilson: Cornell planning on constructing four to five major buildings on the North Campus – will house two thousand students
  • Buildings will probably last 50-75 years – plan is to use heat and electricity generated by the campus’s co-gen plant
  • Appears that Cornell is looking to fast track project as way to avoid full environmental assessment and review
  • Andrew Gil: Every building on campus has to be certified at least at LEED Silver level
  • Marie McRae: Ultimate goal would be to use same infrastructure for deep source heating if and when that technology becomes feasible – probably 15 to 20 years from now
  • Brian Eden: Commends Cornell for adding to its housing stock – will significantly relieve pressure on vacancy rate in community
  • Will use already existing energy infrastructure but could build to higher standard for building envelope
  • Lake Source cooling significantly reduces incentive for using heat pumps
  • Project has already been introduced to planning bodies in City and Town of Ithaca as well as Cayuga Heights Village – just sketch plan at this point – City will take lead
  • Joe Wilson: Review should not be fast tracked – should go through full review – otherwise public will not be able to provide input beyond three-minute comments as point of public privilege
  • We can also share thoughts and concerns through local media
  • Brian Eden: Town of Ithaca became much better educated with relevant issues as a result of the Maplewood experience
  • But City Planning Board less experienced currently – cam become better educated through public engagement
  • Joe Wilson: Will share talking points with group – hopes that other TCCPI members will also do this
  • Sarah Culotta: Complex issues involved here that need nuanced discussion
  • Is there any way to bring together broader, deeper discussion among energy experts to try to create win-win situation?
  • Would need neutral facilitator to make this work
  • Energy and Economic Development Task Force model might be an effective vehicle to carry out such a discussion
  • David Kay: Served on the City Planning Board for many years – energy was barely considered when original North Campus development proposed
  • Would be more effective for group to become as familiar as possible with technical issues rather than individuals identified as activists acting on their own
  • Darby Kiley: County Planning Department will be involved in approval process
  • Multijurisdictional nature of issue will allow County to weigh in but may not exert much influence
  • Can ask questions that can illuminate issues, especially with County’s new energy policy

The Talanoa Dialogue and COP24 – Discussion

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is asking stakeholders around the world to provide input ahead of the climate negotiations in December at COP 24. The process for collecting this input is called the Talonoa Dialogue. Countries, cities, and NGOs across the globe are conducting dialogue meetings and sharing their responses with the UN to highlight the urgency of stronger climate action. How can TCCPI work with members of the Cornell delegation to participate in this process?

  • Peter Bardaglio: Natalie Mahowald and Allison Chatrchyan submitted a grant proposal for funding to the Engaged Cornell Programto develop a new course at Cornell on Global Climate Change Science and Policy
  • TCCPI submitted a letter of recommendation in support of the proposal, which was approved
  • Allison and Natalie will be teaching the new 3-credit course this fall – will assign Cornell students to work with TCCPI before or after the COP to help us participate in the lead up to the conference – they will also be reporting back after the conference
  • Mitchell Lee (Cornell student): Grant includes sending 12 students to COP 24 in Poland
  • Three questions asked as part of Talanoa Dialogue process:
    • Where are we?
    • Where do we want to go?
    • How do we get there?
  • Allison would like to do community event in September to gather input regarding these three questions
  • David Kay: Would be good to promote broader community participation
  • Atkinson Center is member of Sustainable Solutions Network
  • Peter Bardaglio: Potential co-sponsors with TCCPI include Sustainable Tompkins, Fossil Free Tompkins, CCETC, Park Foundation
  • Others?

May 2018

Tompkins EV Campaign – Bryan Roy

Bryan Roy is the Principal Engineer & Commercial Sector Team Lead for Sustainable Transportation Solutions at Energetics Inc. Bryan has been the consultant for the Tompkins EV Campaign and in that role shared the latest info on the campaign and how we can help get the word out for it.

  • EVs offer local, regional, and global environmental and economic benefits:
    • Fuel efficient – 3 times more efficient than gas engine
    • Environmental benefits – no tailpipe emissions
    • Cost savings – electricity less expense than gas
  • Many EV models available in NYS that meet varied user needs:
    • Plug-in hybrid: Ford Fusion, Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt, BMW i3
    • Battery EVs: VW eGolf, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model S
  • New models becoming available in NYS all the time
  • EV charging stations – level of charge determines duration of charging
    • DC Fast Charge – 480V: 80% charge in 20 mins
    • AC Level 2 – most common 240V: 10-20 miles per hour
    • AC Level 1 120V (standard outlet – garage): 2-5 miles per hour
  • Installation context helps determine appropriate level of charge”
    • Fast charging: quick charging with high turnover such as fleets, metro area
    • AC Level 2: 2 to 6 hour dwell times such as retail, city parking lots, hotels
    • AC Level 1: very long dwell times such as overnight at residence or all-day charging at workplace
  • EV Tompkins working with public and private sector leaders to provide necessary infrastructure, educational outreach, coordination, and commitment from local businesses
  • Goal is to double number of EVs registered in Tompkins County from 310 to 620 before December 2019
  • NYS: EVs make up 30K out of roughly 30M registered vehicles – Tompkins County has largest percentage of all NYS counties
  • Strategies:
    • Provide EV charging at more than 40 locations
    • Double EV inventory at dealerships and educate industry partners
    • Support and implement 10 new EV-ready community strategies
    • Increase public awareness and EV knowledge
    • Double number of EVs in local fleets – currently 10 EVs operated by Tompkins County
  • Key messages for moving beyond niche product:
    • EVs are easy
    • EVs affordable – state and federal incentives
    • EVs are for everyone
    • Still important to reduce amount of driving: more shared vehicles, mass transit, biking, walking
  • Norway requiring all vehicles to be electric by 2030 -- Netherlands building highways that will provide solar charging
  • EV Tompkins audiences:
    • Municipalities: lead by example, EV-ready policies, supportive codes and permitting
    • Industry: installation strategies and lessons learned, maintenance support, and dealership training
    • Station Hosts: installation best practices, benefits of hosting, incentives and low-cost options
    • Fleets: Total cost of ownership, best practices, purchasing strategies, incentives and grants
    • Consumers: ride and drive events, festival displays, handouts, Facebook and website, newsletters, other media
  • Industry campaign strategy and tasks:
    • Survey current EV drivers on industry engagement
    • Develop and provide applicable materials and resources
    • Schedule meetings with industry groups and individual businesses
    • Present EV information and discuss their support for EVs
    • Follow up and provide support for improving EV services
  • Municipality campaign strategy and tasks
    • Develop and provide applicable materials and resources
    • Schedule meetings with decision makers from municipal groups and individual municipalities
    • Present EV info and EV-ready measures
    • Follow up and provide support for enacting EV-ready measures
  • Fleet campaign strategy and tasks
    • Identify local fleets with potential for EV use
    • Develop and provide applicable materials and resources
    • Schedule meetings with fleets
    • Present EV info and discuss options
    • Facilitate ride and drives with manufacturers and dealerships
    • Follow up and provide support for acquiring and incorporating EVs into fleets
  • EV charging station campaign strategy and tasks
  • Look at gaps in infrastructure and identify business most likely to participate
  • Develop and provide applicable materials and resources
  • Present info to potential hosts and discuss their interest and questions
  • Conduct site assessment with installation plan and cost estimates
  • Follow up and provide support for installing charging stations
  • Consumer campaign strategy and tasks:
    • Logo and branding
    • EV advocates and volunteers
    • Social media
    • Web pages
    • Print and other media
    • Event participation


Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change – Alexandra Moore

In response to an effort by the Heartland Institute to flood public schools with its materials challenging the scientific consensus on global warming, PRI/Museum of the Earth published a book last year for teachers on the scientific aspects of climate change. Alex is one of the co-authors, along with Ingrid Zabel and several other colleagues at PRI, and has headed up the effort to get the book out to teachers and to raise their awareness about this issue.

  • Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change came out about a year ago
  • Ingrid, Alex, and others had already been working on TGFCC when climate change denial piece issued by Heartland Institute – sent to 300K teachers starting in March 2017
  • Goal of TFGCC was to get 200K volumes out to teachers and the public
  • Raised about $73K to date, with $86K the goal – GiveGab crowd funding campaign – enough to get books to all the Northeastern states
  • One in a series of Teacher Friendly Guides to US Earth Science – volume issued for each of the regions
  • People have been requesting books to be sent to teachers in particular states
  • Looking at identifying key champion in each state for help in raising money for their state
  • Heartland Institute now attacking TFGCC
  • Many volunteers helping to get books out – lots of PRI staff participating
  • Currently 498 donors from 44 states – 15,300 teachers, 2500 downloads, 1244 schools, 21 news articles in 11 months, 15 teacher workshops
  • By end of summer 50K teachers will be reached – 25% of all US science teachers – raised $105K
  • Need to raise $300K more to reach all of the teachers
  • Students have been helpful increasing our social media capacity
  • Most teachers have never had training in climate science – TFGCC vital resource for providing this training
  • Covers basics of climate change and discusses possible solutions and effective ways to communicate
  • More individual donors from NYS and California than any other states
  • Also working on tapping into rise of student activism and translating TFGCC into Spanish this summer
  • Frontline article: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/mailings-to-teachers-highlight-a-political-fight-over-climate-change-in-the-classroom/
  • Sierra Club article: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2017-6-november-december/act/science-educator-busts-myths-about-climate-change

April 2018

Earth Source Heat Update -- Rick Burgess, Jeff Tester, Joel Malina
Rick Burgess, Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services; Jeff Tester, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; and Joel Malina, Vice President for University Relations presented an update on the ambitious earth heat project at Cornell.
  • If successful, earth source heat will allow Cornell to wean itself off natural gas
  • Will be coming back to TCCPI at every stage—also presenting to other community stakeholders
  • Public meeting at 5:30 pm on May 17 at Space@GreenStar
  • Currently have enough funding to get started on academic front end – want to provide status report today on progress so far
  • First project: drill one test well – 3 miles deep hole to get to heat
  • Estimated $20M to drill hole-- $4-5M for permitting and roughly $15M for actual drilling
  • Timeline dependent on securing funding
  • Will be listening to background seismic activity: want to make sure it’s a safe area – also looking at satellite photos
  • Jeff Tester was an undergrad at Cornell – then worked at Los Alamos and then MIT
  • Cornell’s commitment to climate neutrality provided great opportunity to contribute to community
  • Overall heating demand greater than electricity – cooling has been addressed by lake source cooling
  • First step is getting access to thermal energy – then have to develop sustainable way to use it -- big unknown: rock structure below surface
  • Would run water through heat and distribute heated water through Cornell’s district heating system
  • The initial two holes would be closed loop with casting all the way down
  • When fully operative, heated water will run through secondary loop to campus and then back into injection well to be reheated
  • US largest producer of thermal energy in world
  • But technique perfected in Iceland and Paris – 90% of all homes in Iceland heated through deep earth technology
  • Similar heating in US currently confined to the West
  • If it works, the approach could be replicable – site specific to a certain extent but geology similar throughout Southern Tier
  • Temperature gradient as you drill down would vary from site to site, however
  • System would be not be used to generate electricity – heat only
  • While feasibility is being explored, heat exchangers will be used in new buildings (North Campus, for example) will be sixed so they could be ready for earth source heating
  • Independent of any move toward earth source heating, the university is investing $1M every year in improving its energy performance
  • Despite campus expansion, heating and cooling demand has almost been flat
  • Aggressive energy efficiency measures need to accompany move towards earth source heating
  • Will need more than just two initial wells to heat campus
  • In order to prevent methane emissions, drill hole would go well below level where methane located – would go down to crystalline rock
  • But university would closely monitor wells for methane emissions
  • Going down 10-15K feet means drilling would go through layers that contain methane but any leakage would be capture and used
  • Best practices for casement will be used and corrective measures taken
  • Ultimately looking at 8-12 wells in 4-6 pairs
  • Probability of leak would be 10-20% but volume would be low
  • Unlike accepted practice in oil and gas drilling, methane would not be vented into atmosphere
  • Using shallow geothermal for Bloomberg Center on Roosevelt Island – takes more than 8- holes for just that one building
  • Use of district energy heating from deep earth well cost competitive with natural gas
  • Big question: what underground stresses operate at depth of 3 miles in Ithaca area? Likelihood of slippage is probably pretty low but some risk does exist
  • If $20M was in hand, it would probably take 5 years for system to becom operative

Ithaca 2030 District Update – Peter Bardaglio
Peter provided an update on the Ithaca 2030 District, including a progress report on the NYSERDA Cleaner, Greener Communities grant that is supporting this effort, along with the Park Foundation, HOLT Architects, Taitem Engineering, and the Tompkins County Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.
  • Ithaca 2030 District a project of Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI)
  • Part of a larger effort in Tompkins County to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050
  • Target approved by the County Legislature in 2008, the year when TCCPI launched
  • Ithaca 2030 District builds on TCCPI model
  • Provides non-competitive, collaborative environment built on trust and mutual respect
  • Building owners, community organizations, and professionals come together to share best ways to enhance energy and water performance of commercial and mixed use buildings – collect, benchmark, and analyze data to track progress
  • Why a 2030 District?
    • Common targets and metrics
    • Opportunities and efficiencies of scale
    • Information sharing platform and educational programs
    • Enhance overall value and reputation of downtown Ithaca
  • Key Characteristics of 2030 Districts:
    • Private sector led, public sector supported
    • Property managers, owners, developers
    • Local government and public agencies
    • Business and community stakeholders
    • Voluntary collaboration
    • Common mission and goals
    • Based in market realities
    • Building the business case for sustainability
  • 19 established districts and 397 million sq. ft. committed in the 2030 Districts Network – six since the Ithaca 2030 District was launched in June 2017
  • Current property owners in the Ithaca 2030 District
    • Alternatives Federal Credit Union
    • Argos Inn
    • Cascadilla Oasis, LLC
    • City Hall
    • Cornell Cooperative Extension-TC
    • HOLT Architects
    • Ithaca Bakery
    • Press Bay Alley
    • Printing Press
    • Purity Ice Cream
    • Space@GreenStar
    • Taitem Engineering
    • TC Chamber of Commerce
    • Tompkins County
    • Travis Hyde Properties (Gateway)
  • Financial support provided by Park Foundation and NYSERDA’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program
  • Pro-bono professional hours provided by:
    • Cornell Cooperative Extension – Tompkins County
    • HOLT Architects
    • Performance Systems Development
    • Taitem Engineering
  • Advisory board members:
    • Katie Borgella, TC Planning Dept.
    • Andrew Gil, HOLT Architects
    • Nick Goldsmith, City of Ithaca
    • Conrad Metcalfe, NYS-BPCA
    • Guillermo Metz, CCETC
    • Jan Rhodes Norman, Local First Ithaca
    • Frost Travis, Travis Hyde Properties
    • Lou Vogel, Taitem Engineering
  • Recent progress:
    • Launch of our website at 2030districts.org/ithaca
    • Development of our small commercial toolkit and financing guide
    • Detailed market analysis report, district strategy plan, and public outreach strategy
    • Collection of monthly utility data for property owners and uploading it to Portfolio Manager to determine EnergyStar scores
    • Implementation of a energy and water dashboard to track monthly consumption
    • Establishment of a real-time energy and water monitor pilot demonstration involving four District buildings
    • Creation of the energy, water, and transportation baselines for the 2030 District
    • Transportation survey to help track carbon emissions
  • Affordable real-time energy monitoring key project currently
  • Grafana: open-source data visualization package
    • Gives users attractive and useful visualization of their data
    • Great support for mobile access to data
    • No programming required
    • Plug-ins add support for visualizing data in maps
  • Next steps:
    • Portfolio Manager trainings
    • Building performance reports
    • Energy efficiency services report
      • Contracting service packages
      • Help building owners achieve targets
    • District benefit workshops
    • Begin phase II recruitment: 15 more property owners by June 2019

March 2018

NYSERDA 's New Initiative on Net Zero Modular Homes – John Scicchitano and Alison Donovan John Scicchitano, the Director of Philanthropic Partnerships at NYSERDA, and Alison Donovan, Senior Consultant at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation,  discussed the agency’s new initiative on net zero modular homes, part of a larger effort aimed at helping low-income families in New York to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • NYSERDA will be investing $230M over the next 3 years – working with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) to roll out the new initiative on net zero modular homes
  • Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
  • Non-profit 501 (c)(3)
  • National Consulting Offices in Vermont, DC & Ohio
  • Mission: Our work will result in reducing 20 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2027, twice the amount the entire state of Vermont produced in 2007.
  • A mobile home is a factory-built home that is was built before 1976 and not to any uniform construction code.
  • Although this term is technically outdated, it is still so commonly used that the Vermont state government and many non-profits and businesses use “mobile home” and “manufactured home” interchangeably.
  • A manufactured home is any home factory-built to the HUD Title 6 construction standards, which took effect in 1976.
  • The HUD code overrules any local and state building and energy codes, so it’s possible for the same manufactured home to be sold in Vermont, Virginia, and Nevada. Manufactured homes are built on a steel chassis but often never moved from their initial site.
  • Mobile and Manufactured homes are not automatically considered real estate, don’t qualify for a mortgage and are often purchased with a personal loan (high percent, short rate)
  • When buying a new manufactured homes, there are a laundry list of issues
    • The dealer model can double the price of a home and push predatory lending practices
    • Manufactured homes are typically financed with personal property loans that feature short terms and high interest rates
    • The poor durability of these homes leads to depreciation, high maintenance burdens, and public subsidy through weatherization
    • Poor comfort and indoor air quality lead to loss of productivity and higher healthcare costs
    • High energy usage leaves owners burdened by energy expenses, vulnerable to cost fluctuations, and reliant on public subsidy through LIHEAP
    • Current a rural “affordable housing” option with public subsidy at the point of purchase and then later on through healthcare costs, weatherization, LIHEAP
  • 8 M individuals in the U.S. living in manufactured homes, which have TWICE the energy consumption of site-built homes
  • We all are too aware that climate change is an issue – what’s important is its disproportionate impact on the low-income population, particularly in rural areas.
  • We saw this firsthand during Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont when manufactured homes and their low-income homeowners were disproportionately affected by the storm, and rural communities were cut off from the rest of the state for days afterwards.
  • A ZEM home is built to a zero energy standard, is affordable to low-income homebuyers, and includes rooftop solar to reach zero energy.
  • 80 homes in VT with partner builder VERMOD and 1 in Delaware
  • Advantages of ZEM homes
    • Zero energy: protection from energy price fluctuations, no public subsidy for LIHEAP
    • Comfort and health: higher productivity, lower health care costs
    • Durable: low maintenance, asset holds its value
    • Affordable: homeowners save in the short term with access to standard financing and no energy costs, homeowners save in the long-term with an asset that holds its value and can allow a family to build wealth over time
    • Resiliency for personal life events (such as those that typically lead to poverty) and against the severe weather events that accompany climate change
  • High performance envelop and super efficient equipment
  • LED lighting
  • ENERGY STAR appliances
  • Cold climate heat pump
  • Heat pump water heater
  • CERV – Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator
  • Better housing through modular construction
    • LED lighting
    • Superior indoor air quality
    • Secure land tenure
    • Long term low rate financing
    • Zero Energy
    • Durable
    • Leverage existing efforts
  • ZEM impact
    • $143,000 purchase cost, all inclusive, including financing and delivery, and rooftop solar PV. 2 or 3 bedroom, 980 sf
    • MMBtu/year saved by each ZEM home built 100
    • Equivalent of cars taken off the road by each ZEM home built (.114 MMbtu/gallon of gas x 435 gallons/car/year = 49.59 MMbtu/car/year)
    • Homeowner enery savings per year per ZEM home (VT figure is $2,800 based on energy costs for new manufactured homes, I assume that it’s lower in other places – could also factor in cost of energy inflation at 2% per year)  
    • 2000 tons of CO2 saved (new manufactured home uses 93 MMbtu: 17 MMbtu lights and appliances=electric (1 MMbtu = .09 tonnes CO2), 13 MMbtu hot water=electric, 63 MMbtu heating=oil (1 MMbtu = .07 tonnes CO2)) 7.11

February 2018

An Ian Shapiro Double Feature

Ian Shapiro, the founder and chairman of Taitem Engineering, presented on two topics:

  • Climate Reality Training with Al Gore
  • Emerging Research Trends in Building Science

Among his many accomplishments, Ian is the co-author of the books Green Building Illustrated (2014) and Energy Audits and Improvements for Commercial Buildings (2016), both published by Wiley. He has been a visiting lecturer at Cornell University, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and Syracuse University.

 I. Climate Reality Training

  • Went through training for first time in 2006 – went through it for the second time recently with his daughter
  • We’re dumping 110 million tons of manmade CO2 into the atmosphere every 24 hours
  • As CO2 concentration increases, more infrared radiation gets trapped instead of passing though
  • On 30-year cycle, methane is 100X more potent than CO2
  • Vast majority of GHG emissions has taken place since 1950 and most serious warming has taken place since 1950
  • 16 of 17 hottest years have taken place in the last 17 years – 2016 hottest year ever
  • More and more heating also getting trapped in ocean – increasing air and water temperatures have led to stronger storms
  • Evaporates more water from ocean—also leads to more droughts
  • Extreme weather events have tripled since 1980
  • Dramatic declines in ice mass in both Arctic and Antarctic
  • Miami is first and New York City is third for cities at risk for cities in terms of assets because of rising sea levels
  • Crops are very sensitive to heat – major impact on agricultural productivity
  • Tropical diseases are on move, posing serious public health threat
  • We risk losing 50% of all land-based species by end of century
  • Three questions;
  • Must we change
  • Can we change?
  • Will we change?
  • Denial and despair both lead to inaction – worst response possible
  • We have solutions at hand – rapid growth in renewable energy
  • For example, projection in 2000 was that worldwide wind capacity would reach 30GW by 2010
  • Reality: we reached 16 times that amount by 2010
  • Quadrupled amount of wind power since 2008
  • Cost of solar panels has plummeted and level of solar PV installations has sky rocketed
  • Enough solar energy reaches earth every hour to meet all of world’s energy needs for a full year
  • LED lights projected to make up 95% of market by 2025
  • Auto manufacturers moving to electric vehicle production very quickly
  • Can we change? Yes, but will we change?
  • Withdrawal from Paris climate accord has left US as a major outlier
  • US military has recognized the threat of climate change, however – largest carbon footprint of any organization in world

 II. Emerging Research Trends in Building Science

  • Four important trends:
    • Scale
    • Urgency/time frame
    • Measurable results
    • Focus on grid
  • NYS goal is 50% renewable energy by 2030 – already at 25%
  • Need to electrify
  • Convert combustion to heat pumps
  • Appliances such as stoves and dryers
  • Heat pump installations increased to 138 in Tompkins County between 2010 and 2014 – grew to 859 between 2015 and 2017 – next 2-3 years will be tipping point
  • Installed costs are still high for retrofits – given consensus on electrification and high installation costs, finding ways to reduce installed costs needs to be major priority
  • Another key issue: what is right amount of glazing?
  • Window to wall ratio should be less than 20% -- one of easiest ways to reduce carbon footprint of buildings
  • Daylighting has not been very effective – better to reduce amount of windows
  • What is needed to preserve views?
    • WELL standard: 20% minimum
    • BREEAM: 20% minimum
    • LEED: silent on issue
  • A lot we really don’t know about buildings – need to address what are widely seen as mundane issues rather than chasing development of new widgets
  • Behavior is next frontier – also need more research on policy and effectiveness of incentives

Green Building Policy Proposal – Discussion

  • Need range of solutions: envelop, lighting, etc.
  • Proposed building policy focuses on new buildings and major renovations
  • Two approaches proposed: point system and whole building path – former would lead to net zero by 2030
  • Moved a number of required points from 5 to 6 – will probably bump up number of required points from 6 to 10 ( and maybe even 12) by 2025
  • Other changes:
    • One point for eliminating minor fossil fuel from residential buildings (dryers, etc.)
    • 15% smaller would get one point and 30% smaller would get two points for residential and multifamily buildings
    • Moving toward incentive system if you achieve 10 points: tax incentives, plaques, and the like
  • Most of existing high performance buildings in Ithaca achieve 6-10 points
  • Must achieve 6 points to receive building permit and certificate of occupancy
  • Struggling with issue of off-site renewables – have capped level of renewables and required minimum of 20 years for contracts
  • Need feedback and support – next 4-6 weeks key to securing approval of Common Council – one public meeting
  • Latest draft will be made public in the next couple of weeks

January 2018

The View from Bonn, Germany: Cornell Attends COP 23 – Emma Bankier and Allison Chatrchyan

Emma Bankier and Allison Chatrchyan from Cornell University shared their experiences at the recent UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany. Emma is a research assistant at the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and Allison is the director of the Institute. They were joined by two Cornell students, Tasnuva Ming Kahn and Danielle Eiseman.

  • COP meetings take place every year as part of a gglobbal negotiating process to address climate change – large COPs every five years
  • Cornell is an official UN observer party to the UN Framework on Climate Change – participates with Research & Independent NGOs
  • Provides increased visibility for Cornell research and educational projects
  • Exploring connections and collaborations for future research projects
  • Cornell at COP21 Paris: two UN approve delegates each week
  • Exhibits, side events, blogging, etc.
  • Paris Agreement binding treaty that creates obligations – complex miz of mandatory and voluntary provisions
  • Requires any country that ratifies it to act to reduce GHG emissions – countries agreed to work together to hold increase in global average temperature below 2o C
  • Cornell had seven UN approved delegates each week at COP22 in Marrakech
  • COP 23 in Bonn: 22 Cornell faculty, staff, and students attended November 6-17
  • Danielle: Her first COP – lots of events – impressed by energy of the We Are Still In coalition
  • Emma: Also impressed by We Are Still In and US Climate Action Center – met CEO of Wal-Mart – discussed global supply chain issues
  • Ming: Especially interested in renewable energy and island nations – issue of climate induced migration – very moving to discuss migration issues with Pacific Islanders
  • Also interesting to talk with industry leaders in renewable energy
  • COP 24 will take place in Poland December 3-14, 2018
  • Have submitted an Engaged Cornell Curriculum Grant proposal: Local to Global – a student course involving students and TCCPI in Fall 2018 – what would this look like?
  • Takes four years for US to withdraw from Paris Agreement – but Trump administration will not push forward any commitments
  • New US pavilion at COP23 – two USDA delegates there, working quietly behind scenes
  • Fiji@Bonn: German government worked with Fiji so small island nation could host event
  • We Are Still In right next to building where negotiations took place – set up tent there
  • Ming: Community engagement and local activism important takeaway – doesn’t just have to be governments, big business and NGOs
  • Emma: Surprised by push for nuclear power – major datable at panel discussion
  • Danielle: Island nation speakers very impressive – also interested in gender dynamics at conference – more women need to be involved
  • Not a lot of students at COP
  • Possible public forum after next COP with TCCPI: Are We Still In?


The Green Building Policy Project – Nick Goldsmith

Nick Goldsmith, the sustainability coordinator for the City of Ithaca and Town of Ithaca provided us with an update on the Green Building Policy project that has been underway since August.

  • Local action more important than ever because of climate change acceleration and pull back of US government
  • Green Building Policy an important way to demonstrate local commitment
  • Building sector poses challenges to meeting our GHG targets
  • To meet 80 by 2050 goal, we need to address building energy use
  • Grant-funded projects examine green building standards for new buildings: What combination of mandates and incentives will be most effective?
  • Stream Collaborative, Randall + West, and Taitem formed team to carry out project
  • Major renovations as well as new buildings included
  • Mayor spoke in support of policy in State of City address – Common council expressing more interest in this issue
  • Funded by grant from Partners for Places and Park foundation
  • First step was to do survey of building stock and generate projections for future growth
  • Should be ready to bring recommendations to Common Council in several weeks
  • Successful Green Building Policy Criteria:
    1. Flexible
    2. Affordable
    3. Impactful
    4. Reachable
  • Preliminary recommendations – two compliance options
  • Easy Path: credit system, minimum number of points to pass; affordability-driven features
  • Whole Building Path: LEED certification; HERS rating; passive house certification
  • Incentives would require more points – total possible points: 16 (13 commercial)
  • Each point would reduce carbon emissions by roughly 10 percent:
    1. Density –7 dwelling units/acre
    2. Location within one quarter miles f five common destination types
    3. Meet NY Stretch Code (2 points)
    4. Heat pumps or biomass for space heating (3 points/2 commercial
    5. Install on-site renewable energy (1-2 points)
    6. Affordability improvement
      • Smaller building/room size: 10 to 20% smaller than reference (1-2 points)
      • Window to wall ratio: 20% or 10% (1-2 points)
      • Simple building shape
      • HVAC system in thermal envelope
      • Reduce hot water use with EPA Water Sense features
      • Reduce overlighting (25% lower power density than code)
  • What about buyers down road of once new building? Benchmarking would be helpful here
  • Will point system be ratcheted up over time?
  • Anticipated results:
    1. 40-50% lower carbon emissions than NYS Energy Code for new construction
    2. 70% better than existing building stock (same as Architecture 2030)
    3. Lower or similar construction costs (using Easy Compliance Path)
    4. Adjust policy to continue to reduce carbon emissions over time

Meeting Highlights: 2018

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