to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

Meeting Highlights: 2020

December 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020

December 2020

The Biden Climate Agenda: What’s Ahead – Tom Shevory

Tom is a professor of Politics at Ithaca College and co-director of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. He has published six books and numerous scholarly articles on issues related to law, public policy, and popular culture, with special attention to health and environment.

  • Perhaps most important point: He’s not Donald Trump.
    • Biden’s $2 trillion campaign promise
    • No one has come to presidency with such an aggressive climate agenda -- Biden is first president to identify climate as one of his highest priorities
    • Obama became more committed over time, but it wasn’t at top when he entered office
  • Not all climate activists were as happy with Biden as with Jay Inslee, who ran primarily because of climate change
  • But he’s looking better and better – after doing some research, I started to become really positive about potential prospects
  • Let’s put aside $2 trillion for the time being – that was discussed during campaign and chances of its passage through Congress are probably pretty minimal, esp. if Democrats lose Georgia senate races – even if they don’t, some Democrats likely to be less enthusiastic about seeing climate as top priority
  • What can Biden do as president?
  • It’s an old saw in political science that the president has the most power over international affairs – that’s where there are fewest constraints on their actions, so let’s start there
  • John Kerry as climate envoy: Kerry has been involved with climate issues since the 90s, so it’s not just his diplomatic experience that comes into play here – his appointment sends a signal around the world that U.S. takes climate change as a serious priority.
    • Part of National Security Council, cabinet level position
    • Obviously, Kerry brings real negotiating skills to table, plus he’s well known and respected all over world
    • Also, he understands how government works – lots of legislative and executive experience.
  • Paris Climate Accord: The U.S. will reenter – it matters
    • I’ve been two four UN climate conferences: 1) Montreal (2005), when George W. Bush was president; 2) Cancun (2010), end of Kyoto and 3) Paris (2015), when Obama was president; and 4) Bonn (2017) when Trump was president
    • Very different vibes at each of these – highly dependent on who’s president
  • Anthony Blinken, Biden’s choice to be secretary of state: “Simply put, the big problems that we face as a country and as a planet, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s a pandemic, whether it’s the spread of bad weapons — to state the obvious, none of these have unilateral solutions”
  • Linda Thomas Greenfield nominated as UN. Ambassador – Africa has been her focus
    • In speech that she gave for NPR last spring, she pointed to climate change as one of the three most pressing issues facing the African continent, together with terrorism and migration
    • A Third-World sensitivity to climate change – NOT just a U.S. problem
    • Biden has said that he will make climate change a major focus of each of regional State Department bureaus
  • The Pentagon: Not a bastion of climate deniers – far from it, in fact
    • Since 2010 it has integrated climate change into its 4-year review of strategic threats
    • Climate change as threat to global stability taken very seriously
    • More broadly, it seems unlikely that Pentagon will be providing Biden with recommendations to go to war to protect global oils supplies
    • Person he nominated as defense secretary, General Lloyd Austin is a bit unknown -- Michele Flournoy, who had been considered top candidate, thought to have strong interest in climate change, but strong supporter of past military interventions in Middle East
    • At any rate, Biden can use Pentagon’s resources to decarbonize a very large part of government and avoid war
  • Financial System/Treasury
    • Banking regulations can use various mechanisms to support investments in zero carbon energy projects, sometimes from Federal Reserve, perhaps FDIC
    • For example, banks can be encouraged to incorporate climate risks into their stress testing – would help to divert investments away from fossil fuels
    • Banks really important in this whole mix – are they willing to loan to projects in fossil fuels that are very expensive and the necessity of a 20 year payout to be profitable?
    • Treasury can make this even less attractive by setting larger reserve requirements for banks investing in fossil fuels, and even limiting how much fossil fuel investment can be on their balance sheets
    • Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick to be secretary of the treasury, is an academic economist who ran Fed – long been interested in climate change, going back to the 1990s and seen as strong environmental pick
    • She’ll help guide budget and tax policy, along with huge regulatory structure that Treasury oversees – she’ll also chair Financial Stability Oversight Council, where she can play key role in getting banks and other businesses to assess and mitigate the risk that global warming poses to their bottom lines
    • She can also assess tax breaks for fossil fuels (which Biden has promised to end), and can turn tax credits on alternative energy into direct subsidies
    • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, whose mission is to maintain integrity in derivates markets, released report recently on risks of climate change to derivatives markets (futures, options, swaps) – complicated financial instruments that can bring down entire economy when they go awry
    • S. financial regulators must recognize that climate change poses serious emerging risks to the U.S. financial system, and they should move urgently and decisively to measure, understand, and address these risks
    • Existing statutes already provide U.S. financial regulators with wide-ranging and flexible authorities that could be used to start addressing financial climate-related risk now
    • Regulators can help promote the role of financial markets as providers of solutions to climate-related risks
  • Other Domestic Agencies
    • EPA: All kinds of rule-making authority – for example, carbon became pollutant under Obama as EPA rule
    • Legislation is very wide open, gives latitude to agencies like the EPA to pursue policies and push the limits of what might be stated in statutes – these can end up in court, so they need to be carefully considered (unlike Trump administration)
    • Mary D. Nichols is Biden’s choice. She has strong credentials. California Climate and Clean Air Regulator.
    • Biden’s selection of Xavier Becerra as secretary of HHS somewhat of a surprise – strong environmental credentials
    • As Attorney General of California, he fought Trump administration on its changes to the mileages standards – successfully defended – and will continue to defend – state's landmark clean cars laws.
    • Also has challenged President Trump’s ongoing efforts to delay or roll back measures that reduce greenhouse gas pollution, such as Clean Power Plan, Oil and Gas Sector Methane Rule, and numerous energy efficiency rules, as well as measures that protect our public lands and ensure a fair return for taxpayers when private interest extract resources from those lands
  • Not all appointees have been embraced by environmentalists
    • Brian Deese, director of National Economic Council, criticized because when he left Obama administration, he went to the investment firm BlackRock
    • Some argue that no one with these kinds of connections should be given high appointments, but that seems extreme to me – revolving door is part of life nowadays
    • More to the point, while at BlackRock, his role was to green their investment portfolio – had established strong record on climate change issues in Obama administration and has been endorsed by Bill McKibben
    • In fact, most of Biden appointees have some connection with climate change policy in one way or another because climate change as an issue is embedded at this point in DNA of Democratic Party -- not a lot of climate denying Democrats
    • More concerning is Tom Vilsack, Biden’s pick for secretary of agriculture – really close to big ag
    • Agriculture Department oversees federal land management and Biden has promised to end fracking on federal lands
    • There was talk early on of Larry Summers and Rham Emmanuel, but that fortunately, has been dropped in each case
  • More broadly about executive action: How you use it matters
    • How aggressive will Biden be? You can use it as a bargaining chip with Congress: “We’d prefer legislation on this, but we’ll do it on our own if we don’t get it”
    • Or you can use it as a fall back: “We didn’t get it, so we’ll use executive action”
    • Not sure which route Biden will take.
    • Executive actions could end up being challenged in court – Justice Department, S. Attorneys, and Solicitor General will all be important in this regard
  • Support business efforts to decarbonizes: Amazon, BP, Exxon, WalMart, just public relations greenwashing or can their feet be held to the fire?
  • Support state efforts: Lots happening in states and counties -- federal government can find zillions of ways to support these efforts, at very least with political encouragement
    • States won’t have to spend time and energy suing federal government for its anti-environmental executive orders.
  • Last point: Biden is an experienced politicians – he’ll have more legislative experienced than any president since Lyndon Johnson
  • Americans have been enamored with the idea of electing outsiders
    • Carter was an outsider, with a very mixed domestic record
    • Reagan was an outsider from California
    • Clinton ran as an outsider.
    • Gore would not have been (an election that really was stolen) and Bush’s weren’t
    • Obama, kind of – only in Senate a short time before running for president
    • Trump clearly ran as outsider
  • Biden’s inclination is to build bridges. He likes people.  He likes to talk to people.  He likes to try to make deals.  Let’s give it a chance.

Share Out from Small Groups

After breaking into small groups to discuss the local implications of the Biden climate agenda, we shared our ideas about working together to move the climate agenda forward in 2021 and beyond.

  • Brian Eden: A bill for infrastructure development is coming out in the spring, Brian is working to get more renewable energy project included. Promoting thermal highway – networks of geothermal systems (water, sewer, heating & cooling, telecommunication, etc.) lead to higher coefficients of performance. Invited John Ciovacco from Aztech Geothermal to discuss the idea in the Ithaca 2030 District quarterly meeting.
  • Dan Lamb: Hard to coordinate sustainable efforts in Tompkins County because there’re so many groups – concerns about wasted efforts and wasted time. Need to be ready for funding and take advantage of it. The stimulus from CARES Act exceeded $2 trillion. The politics are aligned for more aggressive actions and funding. 66% of American people want climate change action and Harris supports the Green New Deal.
  • Sarah Zemanick: Integrating the triple bottom line: avoid the false choice of either sustainability or the current health and economic crises. Grant for research at Cornell: funding has come through from the Trump administration so expect more under the new administration. Cascadilla community solar farm: research on managing sheep and vegetation while studying soil carbon sequestration and sub-photovoltaic microclimate. The American Solar Grazing Association is growing. NYSERDA is developing a new Program Opportunity Notice (PON) for thermal heat pump projects at a District scale

October 2020

CCA 3.0: Community Choice Aggregation for Climate Mobilization – Paul Fenn & Julia Peters

Paul is president of Local Power LLC (Massachusetts/California) and Julia is co-founder, administrator, and strategist for the Massachusetts-based Local Power. They drew on their many years of experience advocating for and working on community choice aggregation to explain what CCA 3.0 is and why it’s the best fit for communities that have strong public policy mandates for climate mobilization.

  • CCA 1.0: 1993-1999
    • “Buy greener power at a discount”
    • Limited “green” results:
      • Simply purchasing RECs instead of building new renewable energy (RE) generation
      • Outsourced to brokers/retailers that were essentially financial entities
      • CCA had a very limited impact
      • Growth of CCA was limited to communities looking for 5% utility discounts
  • CCA 2.0: Started in 2001
    • “Build greener local power at rate parity”
    • Stopped outsourcing administration, used CCA program revenues to build up staff
    • 67 of 72 US cities with 100% renewable energy are CCA 2.0 programs in CA
    • CA CCA’s include 35% utility customers (about 10M), have built 3.6 GW of local RE, expected to grow up to 85% by 2022
    • 10-year expansion of CCA to 1500 cities serving 30M Americans
  • Neoliberal ideas and incremental policies (RECs, deregulation, outsourcing, market-based solutions, incentives, tax breaks, etc.) in the 1990s only supported early market development but could not accelerate energy transformation.
    • Led to dependence on contractors, theoretical emissions reductions, deskilling of local agencies, higher renewable costs, and outflow of community benefits to absentee investors
    • Activists: “Wait, then hurry up”
    • Paul: The easiest way is often the wrong way. To solve climate change, we have to change the approach
  • Climate mobilization needs capacity
    • The whole community needs to participate, but the outsourced administrators are underleveraged to engage
    • Municipalities can do this
  • Climate mobilization via CCA needs participation from all sources
  • Insourcing made CCA 2.0 powerful, but more was needed to make it both easier for municipalities to do and more impactful to meet the climate crisis
  • CCA 3.0: Started in 2020
    • Transition from “markets” and “transactions” to “communities” and “reduction”
    • Maximum carbon removed through energy integration
      • “Load avoiding” through integration of power with heating and transportation energy requirements at buildings
      • Building a “non-exporting” microgrid
    • Return on investment through avoided energy (which could be up to 100%) instead of net metering/selling energy back to the grid (which is capped at 5%)
    • Phase 1: Signing up municipal buildings/public spaces as first participants of universal shares offering
    • Phase 2: Engaging “active” community members in microgrids through community shares/stakes
    • Program Structure:
      • CCA Agency: Energy program direction, planning, procurement, and billing
      • Municipality: finance, planning, customer account management
      • Building dwellers and owners: stakeholders/shareholders
    • Keep defaults rates simple and financing terms transparent
      • Meet-or-beat default “opt-out” rate
      • Pay-for-benefits to “opt-up” product options
    • Project Site: LocalGreenNewDeal.org
    • CCA 3.0 Report: LocalPower.com
    • Note: For more details, please see Paul’s slide deck


The PSC Gas Planning Proceeding and NYS Climate Policies – Lisa Marshall

Lisa is the new program director of HeatSmart Tompkins and a longtime activist with Mothers Out Front. She discussed a Gas Planning Proceeding currently before the NYS Public Service Commission that seeks to align gas planning with state climate policies.

  • NYS Gas Planning Proceeding: a unique opportunity to influence policy and to go #BeyondGas
    • California is the only other state that has a gas planning procedure, while NY’s more robust.
    • Massachusetts just announced their plans for gas planning proceeding
  • Aims to resolve the conflict between gas utilities’ business strategy and the emissions reduction targets set by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA)
  • The Public Service Commission (PSC) is appointed by Gov. Cuomo and is responsible for regulating NY’s utilities
  • Summary of the Gas Proceeding:
    • Avoid infrastructure investments
    • Incorporate practical alternatives/minimize costs
    • Supply planning (distribution constraints)
    • Policy alignment with CLCPA
    • Non-pipe solutions
    • Standards for moratoria
    • Rate design and effect on demand
    • Reliance on peaking to meet customer demand
    • Pollution reduction
    • Tariff amendments
  • How to influence the PSC?
    • The Renewable Heat Now (RHN) Campaign – influence the climate policy
    • Involve many different industries/local organizations
    • RHN Timeline:
      • March 2020 – Announced in March
      • May 2020 – Online teach-in
      • July 2020 – RHN Organizational sign-on letter
      • August 2020 – RHN Submitted preliminary comments, utilities submitted preliminary comments
      • October 2020 – Sign-on letter by elected officials
      • November 16th, 2020 – PSC Staff White paper release, followed by a 60 or 90 Day Comment Period (tentative, as the PSC has repeatedly asked for extensions)
      • 2021 Date Unknown – PSC issues an order to the utilities
  • Targets:
    • Governor Cuomo
    • State and local elected officials
    • PSC
  • Key objectives:
    • Recognize the risks and harm of gas
    • Stop making new investments in gas infrastructure
    • Fund renewable solutions
    • Enact an orderly, equitable plan for dismantling the existing gas infrastructure
    • Center marginalized communities
  • Action items
    • 2nd round signatures for sign-on letter for elected officials. Link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdrkFVv6hfN7BrXs57Bf8kZ1EXwVLASGRsHsutZLITGf1Ir7A/viewform
    • Sign up to get alerts from RHN: https://renewableheatnow.org/join/
  • Note: for more details, access slides here.

September 2020

Green Workforce Development: A Preliminary Conversation

Overview – Anne Rhodes

Anne is a longtime community activist and serves on the Building Bridges Steering Committee and Ithaca Green New Deal Interim Advisory Group.

  • Kirby’s numbers regarding poverty in Ithaca: about 300 families in the City of Ithaca and 1300 families in Tompkins County are below the poverty line; 1000 chronically hard-to-employ people age 10-34 in Tompkins County; these numbers have been stable for a decade
  • 10% of high school graduates didn’t go to higher education and went into low-income jobs that could not provide a living wage
  • Important to ensure jobs and money from the Green New Deal stay in the local community
  • About 40,000 homes in Tompkins County (not all of which need retrofitting); 1 person can retrofit about 12 homes per year; plus installation of heat pumps; we should be able to create hundreds of new, local, green, living wage jobs
  • Skills people can get from these jobs are valuable – these workers will be set up for a long time with well-paying jobs
  • We might also encourage entrepreneurship and develop worker-owned Co-ops; the challenge is to create pipelines to ensure green jobs are provided to local, low-income people


Panel Discussion – Aloja Airewele, Brian Eden, Ellie Pfeffer, Karim Beers, and Natalie Branosky

Aloja is the coordinator of the Energy Warriors and staff member at Cornell Cooperative Extension – Tompkins County; Brian Eden is chair of Solar Tompkins/HeatSmart Tompkins; Ellie is a member of Sunrise Ithaca and the Tompkins County Climate and Sustainable Energy Advisory Board; Karim Beers is the coordinator of Get Your Greenback Tompkins; and Natalie is the director of Workforce Development Board of Tompkins County. They each addressed the following questions: From your vantage point, what’s happening, what are you learning, what are you working toward, and what needs to happen to make this work?

  • Karim: the transition to clean energy economy requires a lot of work
  • Karim's estimate: 2800 full-time jobs will be created over the next 10 years just for heating and solar transition within the county
  • Karim: The energy transition requires a lot of work – money previously went to fossil fuels will benefit the local community
  • Karim: Hard skills are not enough – some part of job training needs to focus on soft skills, including:
    • Academic foundation – ability to read, write, and do math;
    • Environmental literacy – understanding where their work fits into the needs of the world
    • An empowering sense of agency – a sense of contribution to the workplace and community
  • The Roots of Success training program seems to address all these pillars.
  • Aloja: Community collaboration is important – conversation with many stakeholders revealed that every idea from education, training, to advocacy is needed
  • Aloja: The community suffers from over-abundance of programming and redundancy in competition.
  • Roots of Success: Pilot program will take 6-10 candidates for training – will use spaces at GreenStar and ReUse Community Hardware
  • Looking forward to having people of different expertise to come as guest speakers or join the conversation -- Aloja is open to all recommendations and ideas
  • Brian: NYS has set goals to reduce GHG emissions by 85% by 2050 – this means all home systems need to be off fossil fuel by then
  • We cannot solely rely on subsidies to bring down costs
  • HeatSmart Tompkins seeks to build public’s confidence in heat pump technology
  • Three webinars in August about:
    • Why we need heat pumps and career exploration
    • Energy efficiency and relation to heat pump installation
    • Installation errors and best practices
  • Hands-on training at the end of August
  • Next series of training begins on Oct.14 – priority participants (veterans, Native Americans, low-income individuals, etc.) have 24 weeks of 75% off
  • Brian has been urging NYSERDA to work with the Department of Labor Office to create pipelines and training for green jobs
  • Brian: We need to work with employers to convince them that treating employees well can benefit the business in the long run
  • Ellie: Climate and Sustainable Energy (CaSE) Advisory Board focuses on energy issues and green jobs and how the county can play a role
  • Workforce subcommittee was created and is currently writing a report on promoting green job standards and recommendations to the County – draft will be shared when ready
  • Report will look at County’s relationship to TC3 (Tompkins Cortland Community College) and the public money going to green jobs and local community
  • Three questions need to be addressed in report:
    • How should we define a green job? What are the industries to look at?
    • How should apprenticeships and training be designed?
    • How can we align the workforce system with County-wide sustainability goals/initiatives?
  • Natalie: 200 people will need to be placed in employment every week in 2021 to get back to last year's employment rate
  • Over 10,000 people in County have accessed the unemployment insurance system – in contrast, 300 people claimed this insurance last year
  • Current and next year’s workforce development program based on last year’s poverty and unemployment data
  • Workforce development is exploring priorities and wants to better understand:
    • The context for working from home
    • Race, equity, inclusion, and justice agenda
    • Green economy and transition to more efficient fuel economy jobs
    • Getting creative in job creation
  • Natalie is working along with 2 students to research and deliver employment and skills strategy to the County


Small Group Discussion

The breakout groups discussed the following question: With your connections, skills, and resources what could you do in the next year to move this forward?


Breakout Group #1: David Kay (community and environment; trained as an economist), Carlos Gutierrez (Workers' Center), Ian Greer (Cornell ILR School)

  • Having students look into report on what do green jobs - repeat what my students
  • Worked w/ unions; surprised no one mentioning them,
  • Carlos: Workers Center have been pushing hiring local for a long time. We have unions, trainers locally. What are barriers to the local hiring?
  • Harsh working environment, building trades not easy, can be harsh
  • Systems problem - have to mobilize lots of different elements, redirect motion of these elements; David may be able to make community and university connections


Breakout Group #4: Jackie Mouillesseaux (Tompkins Workforce NY), Lisa Marshall (HeatSmart Tompkins), Diane Stefani (former Lockheed Martin HR), Linda Willis (Park Foundation).

  • There aren’t enough resources to provide jobs and training pathways for obtaining jobs
  • Important to ensure that any programs focused on training and employment for individuals from marginalized groups include supports and staff dedicated to helping individuals overcome barriers throughout the time they're participating in the program
  • In addition, we noted that it is of equal importance that businesses and organizations receive in-depth training in accommodations and that we approach employment from both the perspective of the jobseeker and the employer so that both parties' needs are being met
  • We also discussed the importance of organizations like the Park Foundation that can provide assistance, particularly when we are not seeing funding commitments from the federal government to support these types of job training programs on the scale needed 


Breakout Group #5: Nathan Scott (Thrive@EVI), Brian Eden (HeatSmart Tompkins) Mike Straight (Tier Energy Network), Peter Bardaglio (TCCPI coordinator)

  • Nathan talked about opportunities he seeks for Thrive@EVI to get involved in green workforce development
  • Brian shared his experience working with NYSERDA to deploy interns to help out with the HeatSmart Tompkins program
  • Mike Straight discussed state of economy in Southern Tier and importance of keeping skilled workers in region – difficult to do this, though
  • Strengthening role of community colleges critical to workforce development effort in clean energy sector
  • Brian would like to see TC3 become more involved – also sees BOCES as another potential vehicle
  • Thrive has piloted various small-scale programs at EVI – Nathan sees EVI as possible site for trainings


Share Out from Small Groups

Each group shared their ideas about how we can work together to move the green workforce development issue forward.

  • Adam: We should find ways to collaborate across the regions, such as organizing workforce conference.
  • Sara: Large buildings such as commercial buildings, campus buildings, and hospitals need to be actively managed. Recent retirees or laid-off building staff can be trainers for the workforce development programs
  • Peter: The process of collecting, analyzing, and reporting energy and water data to buildings owners requires time and effort so there will be opportunities if the commercial building benchmarking efforts are to be expanded.
  • Sara: We need one entity or backbone organization to pool the resources and assets together in Tompkins County.
  • Natalie: A first step is to set targets to measure workforce development success
  • Al: The metrics for success are complicated and will need to be composite – greenhouse gas reduction, number of employments, economic growth, etc.
  • Carlos: Most big local projects are given to outside contractors. Cornell’s Maplewood project has many people brought from other states. We need to have a discussion to overcome the structural barrier of market cost.


What Next?

  • These notes will be summarized, pulling out the opportunities, challenges, and promising possible action steps. That analysis will be shared with the TCCPI participants.
  • One-to-one conversations will be facilitated to get people’s ideas about the immediate next actions that could be proposed. If you would like to participate in a one to one conversation email Anne Rhodes at  aer86@cornell.edu
  • Background resources will be compiled about model programs (including Roots of Success), local data, and identifying people interested in staying involved. That packet will be made available to anyone interested.
  • A smaller group of people interested in staying involved will meet to draft specific proposals, identify who the key players might be to move the proposals forward as well as what resources are needed, and develop a timeline.
  • These proposals will be presented back to the TCCPI group, possibly in January, to get feedback and ideas about resources, strategies, and to recruit people to move to the next phase.

August 2020

Climate Justice Organizing at PUSH Buffalo – Kelly Camacho

Kelly is the climate justice organizer for PUSH Buffalo. She shared her experiences in the climate justice movement and her work for PUSH Buffalo.

  • PUSH stands for People United for Sustainable Housing
    • Founded: 2005, by Aaron Bartley and Eric Walker
    • Executive Director: Rahwa Ghirmatzion
    • Mission: mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality, affordable housing; to expand local hiring opportunities; and to advance economic and environmental justice in Buffalo
      • Reduce housing abandonment and redevelop for occupancy by low-income residents: 1/3 of housing in east Buffalo is vacant/abandoned
      • Develop neighborhood leaders capable of gaining community control over the development process and planning for the future of the community
  • West Side Homes: PUSH’s Newest Housing Project
    • Through Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company (BNSC), a sub-organization of PUSH
    • 52 units of high-quality affordable housing
    • 2 substantially rehabilitated and 14 new
    • 30% of the apartments for homeless individuals and families with a substance use disorder or serious mental illness
    • 625 West, 146-148 Rhode Island, 225 W. Delavan, 160 Congress
    • Parking has been a hindrance
    • Language barrier with the refugee population
    • Thinking about bringing in air-sourced heat pumps
  • Solidarity Day
    • Food for approximately 3500 visitors
    • $26,000 to local cooperatives and small businesses
    • $58,000 in direct support for 164 households for rent and utilities, etc.
    • Resolved 582 requests for support
    • Rent relief during COVID-19 pandemic: over $104,000
    • $46,500 in passthrough funding to other local organizations
  • Departments
    • School 77: a school building where the offices are; additional spaces are provided as affordable housing.
    • Cooperation Buffalo: working with local organizations and small businesses
    • Grant Street Neighborhood Center (GSNC): operates as a community center; youth program
    • Community Hiring Hall: offer work training for sustainable jobs such as OSHA training
    • Organizing: include GSNC and Tenant advocacy
    • Tenant advocacy: climate justice and housing justice
    • PUSH Green and PUSH Blue: working on infrastructure and transportation: weatherization of homes, free energy audits, making housing more energy efficient
  • NY Renews
    • A coalition of over 200 environmental, justice, faith, labor, and community groups
      • PUSH is part of it
    • Last year passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA)
      • Reduce GHG emissions by 85%
      • Carbon-neutral by 2050
      • 35% of the benefits of clean energy to disadvantaged communities
      • 70% of electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030
      • Done by the Climate Action Council
  • A Just Transition: PUSH Buffalo operates under this model
  • NY Renews Story Telling Project
    • Looking for participants as interviewers or interviewees
  • A City Divided: A Brief History of Segregation in Buffalo
    • By Partnership for the Public Good (PPG)
  • Eco Justice Team (EJT)
    • A group of community members working to create a Just Transition to a new economy that protects our people and our planet
    • Organize both state and local campaigns around ecological justice
    • Meeting every other Monday on Zoom, 5-6:30 pm
    • Contact Kelly (kelly@pushbuffalo.org, 716-818-9586) for more information on how to get involved.

Go Ithaca and Transportation Demand Management – Lauren Gabuzzi

Lauren, program manager at Downtown Ithaca Alliance, discussed Go Ithaca, a new transportation demand management program and how it will reduce GHG emissions in downtown Ithaca.

  • What is Go Ithaca?
    • Started back in 2016 as pilot program supported by NYSERDA grant
    • Transportation benefits – make transportation more equitable, accessible, and sustainable
    • Support & resources – for both individuals and businesses
    • Site & policy planning – working with City on developing policy of transportation demand management
  • Why Go Ithaca?
    • Covid-19 – provide reliable transportation
    • Green St. garage construction
    • Parking issues
    • Ithaca Green New Deal
    • Provide base package of benefits that members can build on
  • Member benefits
    • $50 credit for Ithaca Carshare
    • Four rides home per year thru Backup Ride Home program
    • TCAT 40-ride pass & after that TCAT ride passes for 50% off
    • Collaborate with 511 NY rideshare/carpool network
    • After two months of participation you get $50 active commuter gift certificate that can be used at one of downtown stores
    • Track progress once a month with brief survey to see if behavior changed
  • Additional actions by employers/properties:
    • Telework
    • Flex schedules
    • Staggered shifts
    • Parking cashout
    • Pre-tax commuter benefits
    • Offer bike storage and parking
    • Offer bike carts and locks
    • Further subsidizing transportation benefits (TCAT, Carshare, carpool)
  • Other Initiatives
    • Formation of Transportation Management Association
    • Remote parking shuttle
    • Sustainable Transportation Leaders high school education program
    • Advocate to make TDM policies part of fabric of Ithaca
  • Focused now on recruiting new members

July 2020

A Green Job Training Program: An Interim Report – Emma Moulton and Nathan Martin

Emma and Nathan are Cornell undergrads working with Karim Beers as interns at Get Your GreenBack. Along with Alara Dinc, they’ve been engaged in research on programs that provide clean energy job training for people with barriers to employment (e.g. formerly incarcerated). They are starting to compile some interesting cases and insights, and shared their initial findings to get feedback from the TCCPI group.

  • Our task: Determine what it would take to build green job training program for Tompkins

County that ensures maximum job placement and long-term employment for residents from disadvantaged backgrounds while providing jobs doing necessary work of energy efficiency, renewable HVAC, and solar

  • Why is it important?
    • Substantially lower carbon footprint
    • Decrease recidivism
    • Uplift local economy through new jobs
    • Develop skilled community members
  • What are some elements of a successful job training program?
    • Educational competency
    • Environmental literacy
    • Hard skills
    • On the job training
  • Curriculum needs to address skills for long-term employment
    • General academic skills, including basic math and literacy skills
    • Life skills - time management, anger management, conflict resolution, child care
    • Work skills (interview skills, work ethic, computer training)
    • Diversity and sexual harassment training
    • Confidence development
  • 82% of supervisors in a NYC Job Training program found that participants needed better professional attitudes (Nancy Faxla Raymond, et al)
  • Dr Pinderhughes: If people don’t come out of a program with strong interpersonal, financial literacy, communication, and other skills, they won’t be able to succeed and won’t be able to move up
  • According to a 2013 report, 94% of people who stay in green jobs do so because of interest in the environment
  • It is important to teach “why green jobs matter,” according to feedback on Oakland Green Jobs Corp program, so that participants stay in these jobs
  • Green Human Resources Management Practices recommends organizing annual “environmental day” for managers and employees
  • Participants must understand connection between their work and their community (Dr. Pinderhughes)
  • Educational literacy & soft skill program developed by Dr. Pinderhughes
    • Fundamentals of Environmental Literacy
    • Water
    • Waste
    • Transportation
    • Energy
    • Building
    • Health
    • Food & Agriculture
    • Community Organizing & Leadership
    • Financial Literacy & Social Entrepreneurship Literacy
  • Hard skills: “Not difficult to learn the hands-on skills under good mentors, but you want to them come out of training programs with academic and soft skills” - Dr. Pinderhughes
  • Trainings include: solar panel installation, HVAC training, weatherization, certification training
    • SEE Green Careers Solar Installation Training - 72 hours
    • Solar Works DC - 12 weeks, 35 hours a week (2-3 construction, 1-2 installing)
    • Oakland - 38 weeks, 16 weeks pre-apprenticeship (social skills), 10 weeks energy
    • efficiency & green construction training, 12 weeks paid on-the-job training
    • Future Build, Detroit - 12 week certification
    • Rochester’s Environmental Job Training Program - 8 weeks of training
    • LA Trade Technical College - 8-16 weeks, 157 hours weatherization training
  • Staffing Agency Model: Provide employment to participants to complete the necessary environmental work in the Ithaca Community
  • Companies can create “trial” runs for potential employees
  • “Sector-specific training offers psychological benefits including positive attitudes and the promotion of soft skills...greater feelings of confidence through on the job training when faced with new situations as well as increased success in new situations” – Nancy Falxa-Raymond
  • Program Components
    • Cohort based (20 people, Pinderhughes)
    • Resemble a work-day (7 hour instruction, clear expectations, include meals)
    • Minimum 6-8 weeks
        • Oakland Green Job Corps - 38 weeks
        • Richmond Build - 14 weeks
        • SEE Green Careers - 12 weeks
    • Orientation
    • Milestone certificates
    • Roots of Success - finish skill set in a week
    • Job placement
  • “Job training programs that link training to specific employers are found to be relatively more successful than other workforce development programs in facilitating transitions into work for less skills, disadvantaged workers” (Nancy Falxa-Raymond)
    • Employer designed curriculum
    • Industry advisory boards
    • Trial job placements
  • Community College, local nonprofits, personal networks, re-entry programs
  • Need a Green Jobs Council (community work, employers, NYSERDA)
  • Create your own staffing agency: organization takes on workers liability
  • (Undocumented workers, criminal records - might affect residential work)
  • Budget
    • Costs: average per student according to Federal Government - $5000-$20,000
    • 6-8 paid employees
      • Full Time Administrator
      • Part Time Grant Writer
      • Full Time Outreach Coordinator
      • Part Time Roots Teacher
      • Part Time Skills Trainer (Usually Trade Union Member)
      • Administrative Assistant
    • Roots of Success
      • $560/Instructor Training
      • $50/Student
      • $75/Guidebook (one time)
    • Stipend ($1000-$2000) awarded at the end of program
  • Funding Sources
    • Federal, state, local, private grants
    • Existing networks are the best source of funding
    • Companies which hire formerly incarcerated individuals are eligible for $2400
      • Tax credit

Potential Funding Sources

NYSERDA: On-the-job Training for Energy Efficiency and Clean Technology (PON 3982)

On-the-job training for HVAC, solar, etc. to reduce financial risk of hiring/training new employees

Will pay 50% of new employees hourly wages for 4 months for <100 employee firms

NYSERDA: Energy Efficiency and Clean Technology Training

Training for colleges, unions, distributors, community orgs

Grants from $50,000 to $250,000

Environmental Protection Agency

Job Training Programs that recruit unemployed residents to work in the environmental field


Weinberg Foundation

Wide range of programs for job creation, housing, etc


Clean Energy Communities Program (PON 3298)

Direct technical support to

communities/governments with clean energy leadership

Up to $250,000 per municipality

Affordable Solar and Storage Predevelopment and Technical Assistance (PON 3414)

Serves low-to-moderate income households facing barriers to solar installation

Individual awards will not exceed $200,000

Clean Energy Training Services (RFQL 4145)

Establish contractors qualified to

train/teach/provide expertise on energy workforce development


  • What’s next? - Dr. Pinderhughes
  • Interest in reducing carbon emissions and supporting economic security
  • Community group gathers from different silos. Who is best ready to complete this project?
  • Define the dream/goal. What do we want to do? What’s the vision? Articulate this goal.
    • “We want 20 people to understand social and environmental justice and find enduring work in energy efficiency this year. Next 5 years would each be 20-40 people.”
  • What do we need to make this happen? What network can we learn from?
  • How do we get this done? Who can do it the best? Who has the community contacts? How do we get the funding?

Climate Change in the News 2020 – Peter Bardaglio

Traditionally, we’ve done this review in August, but we had some shifts in the agenda for next month, and to accommodate the reshuffling Peter discussed this year’s developments earlier than usual. The pandemic has dominated the headlines, but there’s a lot going on in the climate change arena, too.

  • In May, Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded average concentration of atmospheric CO2 at 417.1 parts per million (ppm)
  • Highest monthly reading ever recorded, according to NOAA and 8th straight year in which steep increases occurred
  • Study published in late May concluded that current CO2 levels are higher than they’ve been in past 23 million years
  • The climate crisis is here: if we suddenly stopped emitting CO2, it would take thousands of years for atmospheric CO2 to return to pre-industrial levels
  • COVID-19 pandemic slowed emissions, but not enough to show up at Mauna Loa
  • Rate of CO2 increase in atmosphere has been steadily accelerating – annual growth averaged about 0.8 ppm per year in 1960s – doubled to 1.6 ppm per year in 1980s and remained steady at 1.5 ppm per year in 1990s
  • Surged to 2.0 ppm per year in 2000s, and increased to 2.4 ppm per year during last decade
  • Van Jones argues that we have three options for our future: eco-apocalypse, eco-apartheid, or eco-equity – eco-apartheid is just a speed bump on the way to eco-apocalypse
  • Our only viable option is eco-equity
  • 2019 UN report warned of "climate apartheid“
  • Human rights, democracy, and rule of law increasingly at risk
  • Developing countries will bear 75% of climate crisis costs
  • Yet poorest half of world's population causing just 10% of CO2 emissions
  • “Climate change threatens to undo last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction.”
  • “Human climate niche” projected to change more in next 50 years than it has during past 6,000 due to global warming
  • National Academy of Sciences report issued this spring: Half of current world's population could be dealing with "unlivable heat" by 2070
  • In next 50 years, between 1 to 3 billion people will be subjected to unbearable heat, according to study
  • Large parts of Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia will likely experience increased temperatures similar to what 20 million people are already experiencing in places like Sahara Desert
  • Year-to-date average surface temperature second highest in141-year record, almost 2°F above 20th century average of 55.5°F
  • South America, Europe, Asia, and Gulf of Mexico had their warmest Jan–May period on record
  • According to projections, 2020 very likely (>99.9%) to rank among five warmest years on record
  • Most sobering climate change news of year so far comes from Will Steffen, Australia’s top climate scientist: “We are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse” of civilization (June interview)
  • According to him, 9 of the 15 known global climate tipping points that regulate the state of the planet have been activated – “evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency”
  • Close runner up: recent research indicates climate much more sensitive to carbon emissions than previously thought
  • Based on new understanding of how clouds contribute to warming
  • Consensus for last 40 years has been that doubling of CO2 emissions from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm would lead to increase of 3°C
  • But recent modeling incorporating slight shifts in role of clouds show increases as high as 5°C
  • Johan Rockström, Swedish climate scientist: “The more we learn, the more fragile the Earth system seems to be and the faster we need to move.”
  • Massive flooding in China: average rainfall in June and July at its highest since records began in 1961
  • Over 30 days in row of torrential rain – another sign of overheating planet
  • 33 rivers in China rose to their highest levels in history
  • 15 million residents in the worst flooding that parts of the region have seen in decades
  • 141 people dead or missing, with economic losses around $8.5 billion
  • Heat wave in Siberia: record temperature of 100.4°F in village north of Arctic Circle on June 20 – northernmost 100-degree reading ever observed
  • Part of extended heat wave – not just quick spike
  • Temperatures in Siberia 18 degrees higher than average in May – hottest May in region since record-keeping began in 1979
  • Thawing permafrost in June led to collapse of diesel storage tank in Siberia, spilling 20,000 metric tons of fuel into a nearby river
  • Preview of how Arctic warming will continue in increasingly hot future
  • New data from Union of Concerned Scientists shows how communities of color in US hit hardest by global heating
  • From 1971 to 2000, US counties with more than 25% black residents had average of 18 days with temperatures above 100°F
  • Counties with fewer than 25% African Americans had average of 7 days
  • If Paris climate targets not met, by 2050 US counties with larger black populations will face 72 very hot days a year on average, compared with 36 days in counties with smaller African American populations
  • Counties with more than 25% Latino residents will experience 49 very hot days by mid-century if GHG emissions not curtailed.
  • Megadrought in American Southwest: worst drought in 500 years and first influenced by human-caused climate change – findings based on analysis of tree rings
  • Navajo Nation in Four Corners especially hard hit by drought that began in 2000
  • Since preindustrial era, temperatures in western US have increased by about 2°F
  • Computer models suggest warmer and drier conditions created by climate change accounts for nearly half severity of current drought
  • Even South Pole is heating up: surface air temperatures since 1990s rising 3 times faster than global average
  • Paper published last month reported that South Pole – deep in Antarctic interior – warmed by 1.1°F per decade over past 30 years
  • Not in danger of melting but shows no place unaffected by climate change
  • Clearly, only option to avoid catastrophic, runaway climate change is rapid decarbonization
  • International Energy Agency: World has only 6 months to prevent post-lockdown rebound in GHG emissions – will make it impossible to prevent climate catastrophe otherwise
  • Stimulus packages implemented this year will determine shape of global economy for next 3 years -- need global blueprint for green recovery
  • Emissions must start to fall sharply during that time or climate targets will be out of reach – next 3 years will determine course of next 30 years
  • What can we learn from the pandemic?
    • We have to live within nature – we can’t defeat it or negotiate with it
    • Early and rapid action can save us from catastrophe
    • We can afford the Green New Deal
    • The only thing blocking climate action is our collective choice not to act
  • Some good news from the Vatican: Church called on Catholics last month to disinvest from fossil fuel industries
  • Also urged “stringent monitoring” of extraction industries
  • In May more than 40 faith organizations from around world pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies – more than half of them Catholic
  • Also some good news from big US investors: Group of 40 large investors with nearly $1 trillion in assets urged Federal Reserve and other financial regulators last week to take action on climate change
  • In letter insisted that Fed had “a responsibility to act on the climate crisis right now, and guide our transition to a net zero future.”
  • Warned that climate crisis “poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy,” with potential for “disastrous impacts the likes of which we haven’t seen before.”
  • John Lewis: “We do not live on this planet alone. It is not ours to hoard, waste, or abuse. It is our responsibility to leave this world a little more clean and a little more peaceful for all who must inhabit it for generations to come.”

June 2020

Ithaca Green New Deal and the Climate Crisis – Anne Rhodes and Kirby Edmonds

Anne is a longtime community activist and energy educator, and Kirby is the program director and a senior fellow at the Dorothy Cotton Institute. As you know, the City has put a “pause” on its efforts to address the climate crisis, including a hiring freeze that has prevented the new Director of Sustainability from coming on board. Of course, it is unclear how long the pause will last. It is understandable that the City had to do this – many City staff have been furloughed and the City budget is in serious danger. Given all this, we need to decide, as a community, how we want to continue our efforts to address the climate crisis, and how our work needs to change or accelerate now that the City is on pause, the community is gripped by the coronavirus, and there has been an outpouring of energy to address systemic racism. Kirby and Anne facilitated a lively discussion guided by the following questions:

  1. What can we do in the meantime, without the leadership and resources of the City?
  2. What actions could move us forward most effectively for the next 6-12 months?
  3. What are we learning from the response to the coronavirus and the anti-racism efforts that could be applied to the Climate Crisis and the Green New Deal?
  • Anne: Hope to do some hard thinking collectively this morning about how to move the Green New Deal forward while City is on pause – doesn’t look like the Ithaca economy is going to be revived any time soon
  • Planning Dept. has indicated that the search for a new sustainability director is on hold and some of staff has been furloughed
  • What can we do without support or resources of the City? What should we focus on?
  • This conversation has already taken place in four or five other places and those notes have been put together – Sunrise Ithaca, Building Bridges, Cooperative Extension, Mothers Out Front
  • Based on these conversations we will try to figure out what community consensus is about what we should be doing about climate crisis
  • Things happening right now in response to Covid pandemic, economic crisis, and anti-racism work – how can we build on this work and extend it to climate emergency?
  • Kirby: Wants to update group on work of Covid-19 food task force – formed a couple of months ago – three working groups: 10 health and community; 2) production; and 3) distribution
  • One key issue is gap between when schools stopped feeding kids and when summer programs pick this up
  • Building Bridges has been continuing to engage Ithaca GND community engagement group – have had 13-14 discussion sessions so far involving over 100 people
  • One of main questions: how do we make equity work and how do we measure it?
  • Several grad student assistants working on various aspects of project
  • Starting in mid-July will probably start sending out e-blasts to community about various topics such as intersection between Covid and climate crisis, equity, housing, food, jobs
  • IC and Cornell students have been involved in discussions
  • Feeling encouraged by conversation about whether equity is possible – sees string consensus emerging
  • Sara Culotta: How successful has food effort been so far?
  • Kirby: People who are distributing food have enough food to distribute – that hasn’t been a problem – still trying to figure out who needs food that it’s not going to
  • Anne: Conducting survey about how people are receiving information about Covid-19 – survey available here: https://bit.ly/2MqLHDb
  • Based on survey results will explore what needs to be done to strengthen and broaden flow of information
  • Kirby: Also engaged thru Building Bridges in trying to identify individuals who could serve as effective information hubs – 17 people so far
  • Al George reminded group of project involving his students examining residential heating – close to finishing report and will send out link when it’s ready – they will be picking up again in fall with a broader look at energy and equity issues
  • Anne: What are the most effective steps we can take in the next 6-12 months to move Ithaca GND forward?
  • Anne: Conversations with primarily marginalized groups will continue to take place for next month os so – food, housing, jobs are the main concerns
  • Goal is to identify individuals from these conversations to sit on mayor’s GND advisory group to ensure a broad range of representation
  • Peter mentioned that he had participated in a webinar recently held by Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming on putting racial equity at center of your organization – thought it presented a very useful framework that might have application to the Ithaca GND – the webinar recording is here: https://communityfoodfunders.org/2020/06/centering-racial-equity-recap/
  • Anne: One of toughest nuts to crack involves energy efficiency upgrades for rental properties – over 70% of properties in city are rental properties
  • How can landlords afford to upgrade their properties without raising the rent?
  • Gay Nicholson: Clearly we’re going to need minimum energy efficiency standard for rentals if we’re going to me our climate goals
  • Great Britain and New Zealand have done this at national level, as well as many cities – Rocky Mountain Institute has put together model ordinances and detailed templates to help cities
  • Concerned that city might only require energy efficiency standards for properties undergoing major renovations and have to apply for building permit – most rental properties, however, not undergoing major renovations
  • We should have standard that applies to everyone and provide five years to phase it in – then impose fines or take away right to rent property, as in Great Britain
  • Five years would be enough time to put work force and low-cost financing in place, and rest of tools needed
  • NYSERDA program to do energy efficiency retro fits and install heat pumps with 0% loans very successful -- $30M went very fast – now trying to persuade NYSERDA to put another pool of money together for 0 loans
  • Peter noted that ACEEE just released white paper on mandatory energy efficiency standards – available here: https://www.aceee.org/white-paper/2020/06/mandatory-building-performance-standards-key-policy-achieving-climate-goals
  • Makes strong argument for why standards should be mandatory – voluntary standards coupled with incentives simply hasn’t worked – also needs to be coupled with benchmarking to track improvements in building performance
  • Sara Hess: Would like to see sub-group working on job training in building trades – lots on on-line training regarding weatherization, building improvements, and the like – we should figure out way to make this information available at time when a lot of people are at home anyways
  • Anne: Sara Culotta, Brian Eden, and I are already working on that – Kirby also involved in these conversations – before arrival of pandemic he was looking a possibility of job fair at BOCES – Brian has money available thru HeatSmart to do trainings
  • Sara Culotta: New country advisory board on climate and sustainable energy has decided to make workforce development priority – anyone interested in pursuing this topic should reach out to me
  • Karim Beers: One my of top concerns, too – we need to find out what has worked in other communities – he has three interns who will be looking into this – please contact him if interested
  • Karim also wonders whether we could move forward with greenhouse gas inventory while city on pause – in addition, interim advisory group is working on putting together framework for larger effort to develop input for Ithaca GND
  • Peter wondered whether there might be ways to fund the Ithaca GND, at least temporarily with grant makers support – efforts in other communities along these lines, where grantmakers are pooling their resources, putting together loan guarantees, making deposits with CDFIs – such approach could help city get through this period
  • Key question is whether City would be willing to take on this debt even with a stretched out loan repayment schedule over years
  • Nathan Scott: EVI and Thrive are working on building greater capacity to offer youth programming, particularly involving youth workforce development – would love to get more ideas about available resources and how to scale up this kind of programming
  • Peter suggested we might want to devote on of our upcoming meetings to discussion about workforce development, given interest expressed during this discussion

Overview of Selected NYS & PSC Energy Policies – Irene Weiser

Irene Weiser joined us again, this time to present an overview of selected NYS and PSC energy policies, including New Efficiency New York, Gas Planning, Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefits Act, Host Community Benefits for large scale renewables, transmission and distribution system planning, Effect of COVID on Utility Service, and a recent, troubling decision about the data center at the Greenidge power plant on Seneca Lake.

  • Today’s presentation will cover the following:
    • Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
    • New Efficiency New York (energy efficiency)
    • Gas Planning
    • Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth & Community Benefit Act
    • Host Community Benefits
    • Transmission & Distribution System Planning
    • Effects of COVID-19 on Utility Service

Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA 2019, ENV Art.75)

  • Ambitious set of goals for greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy targets we need to achieve
  • 2025 – 6,000 MW of Solar
  • 2030 – 3,000 MW of Energy Storage
  • 2030 – 40% GHG reduction from 1990 levels
  • 2030 – 70% Carbon-free Electric Grid
  • 2035 – 9,000 MW of Offshore Wind
  • 2050 – 100% Carbon-free Electric Grid
  • 2050 – 85% GHG reduction from 1990 levels
  • 22 Million Tons of Carbon Reduction through Energy Efficiency and Electrification
  • GHG emissions
    • Looking at both In state and out of state emissions
      • Imported power
      • Methane leaks at wellhead and transport
    • Using standard of 20-yr global warming potential for methane = 86x CO2
  • Environmental Justice
    • 35-40% of the program’s benefits committed to historically disadvantaged communities
  • CLCPA requires establishment of several different groups
    • Environmental Justice Advisory Group (DEC) – will be permanently part of DEC going forward
    • Climate Action Council consists of 22 state leaders, including Cornell’s Bob Howarth
      • Advisory groups include transportation, energy intensive and trade-exposed industries, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, power generation, and agriculture and forestry.
    • Just Transition working group
    • Climate Justice working group
  • 2020
    • Establish methods for measuring GHG emissions in CO2e for all sources
    • Establish 1990 baseline, 40% x2030, 85% x 2050 limits
  • 2021
    • Identify disadvantaged communities
    • Develop draft scoping plan for meeting GHG reduction and renewable energy goals
    • Issue comprehensive GHG emissions report (annual)
  • 2022
    • Hold at least 6 public hearings on scoping plan
    • Issue finalized scoping plan
  • 2023
    • Promulgate agency rules from scoping plan (issue, public hearings, etc)
  • 2024
    • Rules incorporated into State Energy Plan to be released in 2025

New Efficiency New York Proceeding 18-M-0084

  • Directs Utilities and NYSERDA collaborate to achieve CLCPA building energy efficiency target of 185 TBtu reduction (40% GHG reduction) by 2025
  • Annual 3% reduction from projected 2025 usage levels
    • Electric efficiency
    • Heating/building envelope efficiency
    • Heat Pumps - $454m 3.6TBtu
  • Special Programs, 20% funding for Low and Moderate Income
  • Workforce training


NYSEG Efficiency Order - Annual Reduction Targets









Electric (MWh)








Budget (million)








Gas (MMBTu)








Budget (million)








Heat Pump








Budget (million)








Gas Planning Proceeding 20-G-0131

  • Avoid moratoria, transparency, communication
    • Locational gas constraint analysis
    • Comprehensive Planning
  • Align with State’s GHG reduction goals
    • Non-pipe alternatives, efficiency, demand response
    •  Equity important consideration
  • Avoid stranded assets

Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth & Community Benefit Act (2020, NY EXC 94-c)

  • Streamline permitting and construction of large-scale renewables
  • Office Renewable Energy Siting (O-RES)
    • Establish uniform standards and conditions for siting, design, construction, and operation of wind and solar facilities.
    • One-year permitting process
    •  Local regs apply unless unduly burdensome
  • NYSERDA required to identify shovel ready sites, including brownfields, old power plants
  • Act also requires PSC to hold two new proceedings:
    • Host Community Benefits program (20-E-0249)
    • Transmission Planning (20-E-0197)

Host Community Benefits Proceeding 20-E-0249

  • Owners of major renewable energy facilities (25MW+) will fund benefit for electric distribution utility customers located in the municipalities that host the facilities.
    • Should benefit be in form of bill discount or credit?
    • Any compensatory environmental benefits?
  • Proceeding seeks input on multiple aspects of above
  • Devil is in details:
    • Five-week comment period (May 29 - July 3)
    • Municipalities not notified
    • Towns need protections, not just benefits
    • Exclude developer/town negotiated benefits, PILOTs?

Transmission Planning Proceeding 20-E-0197

  • Comprehensive study to identify bulk and local transmission and distribution system upgrades needed to meet goals of CLCPA by Dec 2020
  • Develop capital plans
  • Bulk system
    • NYPA develop/construct critical projects
  • Other projects refer to NYISO
  • Will need to revisit decision-making and cost-recovery mechanisms

COVID Effects on Utility Service Proceedings 20-M-0266

  • How do you keep running electricity generators and manage grid in midst of pandemic? Had to have personnel stay onsite at workplace to keep grid running and power coming to our homes, factories, and offices
  • Industries subject to PSC oversight impacted by COVID: electric and gas distribution utilities, private water supplies, renewable and distributed energy generation, energy efficiency programs, telecommunications and cable television service
  • Financial impacts have been significant:
    • Some rate increases postponed
    • Shut-offs for non-payment halted
    • Energy use has changed. Higher residential, lower commercial/industrial
    • Energy efficiency/heat pump challenges
    • Renewable investing slowed
    • Low gas prices
  • PSC seeks comments on:
    • How to address impacts on rate-setting, rate design, utility financial strength, low-income programs, regulatory priorities, collections, and termination of service
    • Provision of safe and adequate service at just and reasonable rates
    • Extent that Commission’s clean energy programs should be maintained or accelerated
    • Comments due by July 13 (!?)

May 2020

Growing Our Climate Resilience at EcoVillage – Nathan Scott

Nathan is the executive director of Learn@EcoVillage. He discussed the ecovillage movement’s recent work on promoting community-based resilience at both the global and local levels.

  • What does climate resilience, and more generally, community-based resilience mean in an intentional community like EVI?
  • Held a workshop in March on “Communities for the Future: Our Response to the Climate Emergency” – contextualized EVI in global ecovillage movement
  • Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) based at Findhorn in Scotland – founded in 1995 to connect ecovillages around world – about 10,000 communities
  • Core practices include:
    • Rooted in local participatory process
    • Integrate social, cultural, economic, and ecological dimensions in approach to sustainability and regeneration
    • Actively restore and regenerate their social and natural environments
  • EVI largest ecovillage in U.S.
  • March workshop explored set of design principles for resilience – for example:
    • Nurture diversity and cohesion in thriving communities
    • Enrich life with art and celebration
    • Commit to responsible production, consumption, and trade
    • Grow seeds, food, and soil through regenerative agriculture
  • Organized into resilience action groups:
    • Sustainable food systems
    • Land connection and use
    • Energy use
    • Transportation
    • Arts and celebration
    • Reduced consumption
    • Community care and connection
    • Social and economic justice
  • Talked about climate resiliency in terms of a combination of adaptation and mitigation strategies – how can we build systems and processes that support both?
  • In follow-up, communitywide meeting on Zoom, examined each of these in a local context and came up with ideas for how to promote them – about 56 households took part in this meeting
  • For example, discussed how more people could grow food locally and buy more CSA shares as part of creating more sustainable food system – other ideas included reducing food waste, onsite farmers market, etc.
  • For land connection and use, talked about how to enrich soil with biochar, plant more trees and shrubs, eliminate invasive species, etc.
  • For energy use, explored how they could expand use of renewable energy and ground source heat pumps, and put local microgrid in place
  • In terms of transportation they examined carsharing, use of EVs (more than 40 EV charging stations at EVI), and using bikes more frequently
  • Reduced consumption discussion focused on decreased use of plastics, buying more local, sharing more stuff, and expanding food buying clubs, among other ideas
  • Conversation about community care and connection came out of Covid-19 pandemic – how do we care for each other and provide support for vulnerable neighbors
  • Final area of discussion: how do we promote greater social and economic justice? Need to address economic differences among residents, increase access for racially diverse groups, and explore more ways of making a living or supplementing an income on site at EVI
  • Big part of creating social change is getting buy-in – 8 actions groups are coordinated by central resilience task force
  • Like EVI Covid-19 Health Task Force, it will be an advising and coordinating body, not policy making one
  • Consists of representative from each action group and others
  • Function is to:
    • Support work of action groups
    • Coordinate communication among groups
    • Share out success of groups
    • Recommend areas for community-wide engagement
  • Next step is for people to choose an action group and for action groups to being meeting
  • Leaders will call first meeting, groups will identify subgroups, and each subgroup will develop SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time based
  • SMARTIES goals expand to also examine how goals can be made more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable – developed by Elan Shapiro
  • Goal is for it to be an ongoing process of continual examination and improvement – also looking to become more outward facing and engaged with larger community


Community Choice Aggregation: Path to Energy Independence – Irene Weiser

Irene is coordinator of Fossil Free Tompkins and member of the Caroline Town Council. Irene outlined the goals of community choice aggregation, an issue that the Tompkins County Council of Governments recently decided to make a priority, and explored the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.

  • What is CCA? Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), at its most basic level, is a bulk-buying club for energy supply (electric and/or gas).
  • Electricity bills show two categories:
    • Energy Delivery
    • Energy Supply
  • In NYS, our electric utilities are decoupled from energy production -- they only deliver electricity
  • Consumers can choose where they buy their electricity supply
  • About 20% choose Energy Service Company (ESCO) and/or solar farm
  • Energy Delivery
    • We pay NYSEG for energy delivery services (wires, pipelines)
    • NYSEG rate increases are for O&M, improvements to their delivery infrastructure.
    • NYSEG delivery rate increases will continue under CCA.
  • Energy Supply
    • NYSEG buys energy supply (electricity, gas) on the wholesale market and delivers it to us. Supply cost is pass-thru (e.g. NYSEG makes no profit on the supply)
    • Wholesale prices vary by time of day and time of year (supply, demand)
  • Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), at its most basic level, is a bulk-buying club for energy supply (electric +/-gas)
    • It can also include other energy services and programs
  • Public Service Commission (14-M-0224, order April 2016)
    • Municipality can pass local law to purchase energy supply on behalf of residents and small commercial accounts
    • Must be done at the lowest level - village, city, town
    • Individuals may opt out of CCA
  • CCAs currently authorized and operating in CA, IL, OH,, NJ, MA, and NY
  • Operating CCAs in NYS
    • 61 municipalities w/ active CCAs
    • About 170,000 residential and small commercial electricity accounts
    • 38 municipalities are currently receiving 100% renewable energy as default supply
  • Current CCA Administrators in NYS
    • Good Energy
    • Joule Assets
    • Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance
    • (MEGA)
    • Westchester Power
  • CCAs in NYS (July 2019)
  • Administrator

    # Members


    # Municipalities*


    # 100% Green Municipalities

    Westchester Power (est. 2016)

    ~ 91,000



    MEGA (est. 2019)

    ~ 37,000



    Joule Assets (est. 2019)

    ~ 28,000



    Good Energy (est. 2019)

    ~ 7,100



    *80 municipalities are fully authorized for CCA, 61 are receiving CCA supply at this time. Others are either on hold pending better pricing, or they have decided not to move forward with CCA at this time.

  • The Purpose of CCA (according to NYSERDA)
    • CCA allows local elected officials to choose source of energy supply for their community.
    • Enter into a bulk purchasing arrangement and competitively procure energy supplies with the help of a CCA Administrator.
    • The purpose is to build market clout and negotiate better prices and terms on energy supply and other clean energy products and services.
  • CCA’s Potential
    • Predictable energy supply costs via Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
    • Purchase 100% renewable energy supply
    • Enhance community energy literacy
    • Develop local or regional renewable energy resources
    • Local/regional job creation
    • Develop/support local energy services; efficiency, heat pumps, EV, storage
    • Develop/support programs for low-income residents
    • Keep our energy investments local, strengthen local economy
  • Energy Math and CCA potential
    • Average electricity use/home = 700 kWh/month
    • # homes in Tompkins County = 40,000
    • Average cost/kWh = $0.038
    • 700 x 12 x 40,000 x $0.038 = $12,768,000/yr leaves Tompkins County to pay for electric supply
    • What if, instead, we own, build and generate our own power? And reduce our demand? And sell our excess back to the grid? And pay for energy efficiency and heat pumps with the money we save?
    • And support our low income residents? And create community jobs? And….
  • Solar Farms = economic leakage
  • “Community” solar farms, offer ~ 10% supply discount vs. NYSEG
    • Owned by outside companies
    • Backed by outside investors (tax incentives)
    • Designed by outside developers
    • +/- installed by outside company
    • Pay rent to landowner
    • Pay taxes or PILOT
    • Pay marketing company to enroll members
    • Admin costs to send billing to utility
  • IMAGINE what our energy costs would be if we could reduce or eliminate these points of economic leakage? And what we could do with the savings!
  • CCA                                          CCA 1.0                                   CCA 2.0                                     CCA 3.0


    Save money by RFP

    to procure lower cost

    per kWh, green energy (RECs) @ sl.

    higher cost

    Regional green energy

    procurement, goal = cost

    less or equal to utility supply, cheaper (brown) energy option, +/- local energy programs

    Save money by reducing energy demand. Social and energy equity at core. Locally built, owned, managed green energy & storage, EV, heat pumps, local jobs; keep $$ in the community.

    Energy Source

    Brown +/- Green

    energy option (RECs)


    Green (RECs), + brown. RFP may specify NYS or regional RECs

    Locally owned and sited green energy; regional, state RECs secondary

    Aggregate Sixe

    150,000 households


    75,000+ households

    20,000-50,000 households

    Local Control

    None (after contract)

    Some, optional

    High, customized, flexible; coop model, self-determination


    Consultant and local

    Consultant and local

    Local coop, + muni +/- advisors

    Level of Effort

    Low, short term

    Low to medium, ongoing?





    New model. Community creativity and commitment are key.

  • CCA Considerations:
  • CCA may exceed NYSEG supply costs
    • Other ways to reduce costs efficiency, demand response
  • Customer concerns - moving, opt-in or out, billing questions, etc.
    • Local management, ongoing outreach and communication
  • Municipal effort
    • Understanding ahead of time what is expected from the local government
  • CCA Workgroup 2017 - Barriers
    • No enrollment of low income residents into Community Solar Farms
    • Separate bills for supply (CCA) and delivery (NYSEG)
    • NYSEG would not bill for Gross Receipts Tax for CCA (cities, villages)
    • No bulk enrollment of CCA members into Community Solar Farm, separate billing.
    • Renewable development slow because of NYS policy (VDER)
    • Low supply costs in our region = questionable savings, higher risk
    • Only 1 active CCA – still a lot of unknowns on effectiveness and potential
    • Limited choice of consultants; lack of expertise w/in community to do it ourselves.
    • Consultant admin fees left little for community-based program development.
    • Lack of transparency w/one consultant; conservative approach w/the other.
    • Consultants want large aggregates; we want more local control, custom programs
    • Electricity supply cost focus, not efficiency, demand response, storage, heat pumps.
    • Heavy lift to enroll 17 municipalities vs. 1 County.
  • What’s changed?
    • No enrollment of low income in Community Solar Farms -- Gone
    • Separate bills for supply (CCA) and delivery (NYSEG) -- Gone
    • NYSEG would not bill for Gross Receipts Tax for CCA (cities, villages) -- Gone
    • No bulk enrollment of CCA members into Community Solar Farm, separate billing.
    • Renewable development slow because of NYS policy (VDER) -- New policies ongoing
    • Low supply costs in our region = questionable savings, higher risk
    • Several active CCAsNeed to evaluate programs
    • 1 new consultant; lack of expertise w/in community to do it ourselves. New consultant = Local Power, started CCA, developed vision for 3.0
    • Consultant admin fees left little for community based program development.
    • Lack of transparency w/one consultant; conservative approach by other. Local Power transparent, robust community engagement approach, prioritizes social and energy equity.
    • Consultants want large aggregates; we wanted more local control, custom programs. 3.0 geared toward local control.

    • Electricity focus, not efficiency, demand response, storage, heat pumps. 0 broader focus
    • Heavy lift to enroll 17 municipalities vs. 1 County. Can we change this in our application to PSC? Do we want to vs. coalition of the willing?
    • CCA 3.0 new model, untested, research, broad community engagement. 2.0 → 3.0?
  • Steps to start CCA:
    • Information gathering
    • Set preliminary goals
    • Feasibility - financial, policy, etc.
    • Re-evaluate goals
    • Select administrator (RFP optional *)
      • External, internal, both
    • Develop implementation plan *
      • Programmatic, budget
      • Public outreach
      • Data management
    • Pass Local Law *
    • Submit plan to PSC for approval
    • Aggregate w/other municipalities *
    • Issue RFP for energy supply, other services
      • Review, revise if needed
    • Hire local coordinator
    • Launch
    • (* templates exist for these)
  • CCA vs. Municipal Utility
  • CCA
    • Procure +/- own energy supply
    • +/- Provide energy related services
    • Local Law by lowest level of Municipality
  • Municipal Utility
    • Procure +/- own energy supply
    • +/- Provide energy related services
    • County Local Law, ballot initiative, and authorized by state legislature
    • +/- Own/maintain energy delivery (wires, substations, transformers)
  • Next Steps
    • Interested in ongoing effort? Contact me!
    • irene32340@gmail.com 607.539.6856
  • TCCOG Energy Committee (Rod Howe)
  • Research existing CCA programs - structures, contracts, prices
    • Talk with administrators
    • Talk with CCA communities
  • Identify our local goals (may differ by municipality)
  • CCA structure to meet our goals
  • Start talking in your local government about what CCA is, and what you want it to be for your community.

April 2020

Rollback of EPA Regulations – Rebecca Newberry

Rebecca is the executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western NY. She discussed the recent rollback of EPA air, water, and hazardous waste regulations by the Trump Administration and her organization’s efforts to push back on these actions.

  • We are a membership-based organization founded by people who were really sick because of where they lived
  • One of most industrialized areas of NY – a lot of cancer, respiratory illnesses, and rare childhood diseases
  • Trump administration issued memo a few weeks ago that suspended any enforcement action, including fines, against corporations that violated any federal law regarding air, water, and hazardous waste – cited coronavirus pandemic as reason for this move
  • Also affected kinds of reporting they do – made it very difficult for organizations like the Clean Air Coalition to advocate for its members
  • Enforcement waiver increases health risks for people who live near these industries
  • We’re asking the NYS attorney general to file a law suit against Trump administration – last week Clean Air Coalition released letter from 50 state organizations calling on the AG to launch lawsuit
  • AG released letter that same day that constituted fairly weak response with attorney generals from several other states
  • Big Greens like NRDC have filed law suit, but there needs to be a public law suit because that’s the only thing that will lead to this waiver being revoked
  • Shaming isn’t enough – these corporations don’t care – need more robust action against Trump administration
  • People can write emails to NY attorney general’s letter – also can work with local press to publish story or opinion piece
  • In addition, Rebecca is looking for environmental organization contacts in other states
  • Looking at ways to get involved in PA voter turnout efforts because of its swing state status
  • Waiver doesn’t have an end date so it could be in place for a long time
  • NY attorney general office is working on calculating health consequences of this new policy


Community Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus – Julianna Violetto

Jules is a graduating senior in Environmental Studies at Ithaca College and is doing an internship with TCCPI this spring on climate resilience. She has been studying how communities are increasing their resilience during the current pandemic and the lessons we can draw on for becoming more climate resilient.

  • Research and internship under Peter this semester – key terms for today’s discussion:
    • Mitigation: Slowing the rate of global warming or making something less severe, dangerous, painful, or damaging
    • Adaptation: Taking steps to live with the effects of Climate Change or the act of changing something to make it suitable for the new purpose or situation
    • Resiliency: The capacity of a community or society to adapt when exposed to a hazard – can withstand shocks and rebuild itself when necessary
    • These strategies have all been vital in dealing with both climate change and COVID-19
  • The reaction to COVID-19 exposed some harsh truths
    • Trump’s reaction: didn’t take it very seriously early on, downplayed its potential impact – similar to his dismissive attitude towards global warming
    • Our obsession with productivity and competition – reluctance to have people stay home cost lives
    • Our fragile economic system and supply chain – failure of risk management principles
  • Potential Positives:
    • People adjusted very quickly to the stay-at-home order – suggests that people can adapt to dramatic and sudden change – why not do so to prevent runaway climate change?
    • Political leaders DO have the ability to make rapid change happen – disruption of ordinary business is possible
  • People may take science more seriously – scientists in news much more frequently than before pandemic as public pays close attention to possible treatments and vaccines for COVID-19
  • Resiliency in time of COVID-19 important development
  • We are all connected by a common threat and solution - “There has never been a better argument for local resilience than the Coronavirus.”
    • Supporting local business
    • Providing resources for those in need – emergence of mutual aid organizations across country – use of social media for self-organizing
    • States collaborating along regional lines
  • Examples of Resilience in Ithaca
    • Mask making run by Cornell and Cayuga Medical Center
    • Ithaca Tip Jar - helping bartenders, restaurant workers, hospitality workers in the community
    • Food Bank and Greater Ithaca Activities Center aiming to address the newly-developing deficit for 800 households who utilize food pantries
    • Loaves & Fishes providing food for those in the Jungle
  • Collaboration/co-creation: people are engaged and communicating with each other to meet the needs of those in their community
  • Important lessons for climate resiliency can be drawn from the COVID-19 experience
  • Both COVID-19 and Climate Change demand early aggressive action to minimize loss
  • Vulnerable populations should be prioritized – they feel the worst impacts – we need to hear their voices
  • Green New Deal – emphasis on facilitating opportunity, job creation, and public health
  • Focus on government spending and policies to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy with emphasis on:
    • reducing emissions
    • ensuring clean air
    • providing good jobs as well as safeguarding economic growth
    • public health
  • Financial institutions need to work collectively to invest in green energy
  • Businesses need to focus on resilience and risk management
  • Need to shift our consumerist and fossil fuel reliant culture
  • Michael Lerner: “Resilience is not something we need to teach people. Resilience flows directly from the deepest human instincts of loving and caring. We instinctively seek to survive ourselves and to help all those we love and care for to survive and flourish. In fact, we often care more about others than we do about our own survival.”
  • We need to rethink our fundamental economic and political assumptions – need to build a world where we can come together

March 2020

Sunrise Ithaca Spring Campaign – Marisa Lansing and Rebecca Evans

Marisa and Rebecca are co-founders of Sunrise Ithaca. Marisa is program assistant at Sustainable Tompkins for the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and member of the TCCPI steering committee, and Rebecca is the Campus Sustainability Coordinator at Ithaca College. They shared Sunrise Ithaca’s plans for a spring campaign to focus attention on the climate crisis and build support for the Green New Deal.

  • Want to discuss how Sunrise Ithaca has pivoted to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic
  • 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April – Sunrise registering thousands of people across country to vote
  • Supporting Bernie Sanders as Democratic nominee – also at local level supporting candidates in congressional races, etc.
  • Focusing on Green New Deal going forward in 2020 – national transition:
    • Respond to moment
    • Case for Green New Deal
    • Massive action at termination of social distancing
  • Clear that systems supposed to support us are not working – Covid-19 has exposed weaknesses and failures of system
  • For Phases 1& 2, Sunrise working on reaching new people and bringing them into movement
  • Sunrise School main vehicle for operating online
  • Participating provides youth opportunities to:
    • Build communities
    • Learn about crises
    • Take actions with peers while social distancing
  • Sunrise Ithaca restructuring – forming new teams
  • Political action with 2020 elections
    • Virtual forums and town halls
    • Endorsement process
    • Mail-in voting during Covid-19
  • Communications and outreach – engagement
    • New website
    • Day of Music
    • Art actions
    • Sunrise School
    • Ithaca Green New Deal
  • Focusing on community – looking for ways to get involved in mutual aid activities: making masks, getting meds, shopping for groceries
  • Impact of Covid-19 similar to impact to what impact of climate emergency might be
  • Need for Green New Deal greater now than it has ever been
  • How do we support each other during this difficult time?
  • Where we need help:
    • Recruiting younger demographics and new members
    • Engaging our community in Earth Day 2020 – is there something we can do here that’s fun and creative?
  • Ingrid: We’re trying to figure out how to pivot at PRI – working on providing onlin teaching and learning resources for climate and energy
  • Nick: Stream Common Council meetings on Facebook and Town of Ithaca meetings on Zoom
  • Energy Code Supplement will be going out for public comment again – how can we provide ways for community input?
  • Carol: We’re working on NYSEG rate case using Zoom – people get mikes turned off but then hold up signs – trying to push for less gas infrastructure and turn towards greater electrification
  • Namrate: What would a virtual strike look like?
  • Want young people to get on platforms like Sunrise School and phone banks and increase their participation
  • Guillermo: In terms of action, what are we asking people to do? What are ways young people can act on reducing GHG emissions?
  • Anne: Most powerful think young people can do is to push political leaders to do right thing – what’s necessary to prevent runaway climate change – focus on getting right policies in place
  • Marisa: Getting young people off sidelines and feeling empowered so important
  • Namrate: Sunrise tapping into creative energy of young people to keep pressure on politicians
  • Rebecca: Looking to allies to bring us into discussions and actions not because they want to have faces of young people present
  • Joe: Why hasn’t energy of young people turned into votes, as demonstrated by Sanders campaign?
  • Peter: Important to work on mail-in voting for fall in case there is second wave of pendemic then
  • Fae: We don’t really know what will happen with pandemic in fall
  • Anne: How can we pull rural youth into Sunrise Ithaca? Maybe we should think about reviving local TV station


Ithaca 2030 District Progress Report – Peter Bardaglio and Aurora Namnum

Peter is the executive director of the Ithaca 2030 District, TCCPI’s flagship project, and Aurora is the assistant director. They provided an update on recent developments with the Ithaca 2030 District and walk the group through the 2019 annual progress report released earlier this month

  • Peter reminded group that Ithaca 2030 District now flagship program of TCCPI
  • Why the focus on buildings?
    • 75% of all electricity produced in U.S. used just to operate buildings
    • Building sector responsible for 45% of U.S. CO2 emissions
    • Buildings account for 75% of emissions in City of Ithaca
    • By 2035, 75% of our country’s building stock will either be new or renovated
    • This transformation over the next 15 years historic opportunity for architecture & building community to avoid runaway climate change
  • Why a 2030 District?
    • Establish common targets and metrics
    • Collect, benchmark, and analyze data to track progress
    • Reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions
    • Share best ways to enhance energy & water performance of commercial buildings
    • Enhance overall value and reputation of downtown Ithaca
  • Ithaca 2030 District builds on TCCPI model – provides non-competitive, collaborative environment built on trust and mutual respect
  • Main vehicle for building support in local business community for reducing GHG emissions and increasing energy and water efficiency of their buildings
  • 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
  • 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
  • 22 established districts and 502 million sq. ft. committed in the 2030 Districts Network – 10 new districts since Ithaca 2030 District launched in June 2017
  • Current property owners in the Ithaca 2030 District
    • 104 E. State St. (Homegrown Skateshop)
    • Alternatives Federal Credit Union
    • Argos Inn
    • Autumn Leaves
    • Cascadilla Oasis, LLC (Ithaca Connected)
    • City Hall
    • Cornell Cooperative Extension-TC
    • Finger Lakes ReUse Center
    • HOLT Architects
    • Ithaca Bakery
    • Kitchen Theatre
    • New Roots Charter School
    • Petrune
    • Press Bay Alley
    • Printing Press
    • Purity Ice Cream
    • Sciencenter
    • Space@GreenStar
    • Taitem Engineering
    • TC Chamber of Commerce
    • Tompkins County (Human Services Annex)
    • Travis Hyde Properties (Gateway Commons)
  • Advisory board members:
    • Andrew Gil, HOLT Architects
    • Conrad Metcalfe, NYS-BPCA
    • Darby Kiley, TC Planning Dept.
    • Frost Travis, Travis Hyde Properties
    • Guillermo Metz, CCETC
    • Jan Rhodes Norman, Local First Ithaca
    • Lou Vogel, Taitem Engineering
    • Nick Goldsmith, City of Ithaca
  • 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
    • Taitem Engineering
  • Progress since 2016:
    • Issued market analysis report, district strategy plan, and public outreach strategy
    • Developed financing guide, energy efficiency services guide, and small commercial toolkit
    • Collected monthly utility data for property owners and uploaded it to Portfolio Manager
    • Created of the energy, water, and transportation baselines for the 2030 District
    • Launched our website at 2030districts.org/ithaca
    • Implemented building performance dashboard for each property owner
    • Carried out annual transportation surveys to track commuter carbon emissions
    • Established a real-time energy monitor pilot with four District buildings
    • Conducted workshops on benefits of 2030 District and training sessions on Portfolio Manager
    • Held regular quarterly meetings of District Partners
    • Published quarterly e-newsletter
    • Released first annual District progress report
  • Aurora then walked group through the annual report, beginning with an overview and going through each of the sections
  • She then reviewed the latest numbers tracking our District-level progress.
  • Currently, there are 23 property owners in the District, totaling 26 buildings and about 330,000 square feet of committed space
  • This report numbers cover only the original 15 buildings because those are the ones that we have complete data on from 2019
  • Next year’s report will include all the members who have joined up through this meeting
  • She explained that at the District level we need additional 30% reduction in the energy consumption of the member buildings to meet 2020 targets, an additional 11% reduction to meet the 2020 water targets, and an additional 33% reduction need to meet the 2020 transportation targets

February 2020

2019 Community Achievements – All

TCCPI members are in the process of compiling their annual brief reports on steps they took in 2019 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to clean energy. We took a step back today and looked at the wider achievements of the community last year.

  • Karim Beers: Ithaca Green New Deal was a major step forward
  • Chuck Geisler: The growing importance of environmental justice in the climate movement
  • Joe Wilson: The new Town of Dryden plan, with its focus on climate change and clean energy
  • Guillermo Metz: The broader perspective encouraged by the Green New Deal and, at the state level, passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
  • Peggy Tully: Also thinks the Ithaca Green New Deal is a turning point for the community
  • Rebecca Evans: The emergence of Sunrise Ithaca and its impact on the development of the Ithaca Green New Deal
  • Terry Carroll: The process of Climate Smart Communities certification and the numerous climate actions by local governments it has set in motion
  • Jon Jensen: The establishment of a new, innovative Green Building Policy in the City and Town of Ithaca for new construction
  • Nate Scott: The growing awareness of intersectionality and its impact on the emergence of the climate justice movement
  • Al George: The rise in numbers of young people in the climate movement, including the Sunrise Movement
  • Lisa Marshall: The closing of the Cayuga Power plant and engaging mothers who weren’t necessarily activist and amplifying their voices through Mothers Out Front
  • Peter Bardaglio: The growth and expansion of the Ithaca 2030 District and its contribution to the adoption of benchmarking building performance in the city

The Way Forward – Group Discussion

The meeting turned to a discussion of how we could build on the achievements of 2019 in the coming year.

  • Encouraging that mainstream media is allowing reporters to talk more about climate change and investigate its impact
  • The danger is that people say something needs to be done without realizing what’s actually involved
  • Ithaca Green New Deal and Climate Leadership and Community Act both running into this – clearly, there will be resistance to these measures all along the way
  • Danger of “confirmation bias” – we believe we’re doing something when we’re not
  • How do we talk across the very different belief systems of people who recognize the climate emergency and those who deny it?
  • Tipping point in accomplishing social change is very real – not everybody has to believe in climate change and not everyone has to support action needed to slow climate change down for the movement to succeed
  • Social change happens when you persist, but we have to be ready for opposition and claw back attempts
  • Maybe 2019 was an inflection point, but there will be and already is serious pushback
  • Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better
  • How do we catalyze the kind of dramatic action like what the public fear of coronavirus is setting in motion?
  • System change and mind change has to take place – need to chip away at these foundational issues
  • Rather than optimism or hope what we need is courage – the strength to take action without knowing the outcome
  • We may always lose, but what’s important is that we fight – there is no time now for hope
  • How can we be most effective in fighting climate change? How can we get more people engaged?
  • The people in power need to be challenged in the way that young people are doing
  • The world is going in a clear direction but not helpful to way we’re doomed
  • The more work we put into slowing down and limiting climate destabilization, the less suffering there will be
  • What kind of new society can we build as we fight climate change and fight for a more humane future?
  • Topics to explore this coming year:
    • How do carbon markets work?
    • What role can regenerative agriculture and carbon storage play in heading off runaway climate change?
    • How should a commitment to social equity shape the Green New Deal?
    • What steps can we take to strengthen community resilience in the face of the climate emergency? How do we promote urban-rural interdependence in Tompkins County?
    • What kinds of messages move people to collective action?
    • How are neighboring municipalities outside of the city dealing with climate change and the energy transition?
    • How do we implement community choice aggregation? What are the main barriers and opportunities?
    • What will the rollout of the CLCA look like?

January 2020

Carbon Offsets and Standards – Stefan Jirka

Stefan is a sustainable landscapes manager with Verra, which has developed a leading voluntary program for the certification of GHG emission reduction projects. Stefan has an MS in Environmental Sciences and BS in Biology, both from Cornell University

  • Verra is a standards organization – ANGO based in DC and founded in 2005
  • Focus on GHG emissions and biodiversity standards for voluntary programs
  • Among other efforts, Verra oversees California Offset Project Registry
  • Three key sectors of current carbon markets:
    • Domestic Compliance – national and subnational
    • Voluntary Market – verified carbon standard
    • Multinational Compliance – Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, etc.
  • Carbon market involves trading of carbon credits measured in terms of CO2e emissions
  • Overall, since voluntary carbon markets began to emerge in late 2000s, offset issuances and retirements have increased dramatically
  • In 2017 issuances and retirements reach record highs
  • Issuance is credit that can be traded and retirements are credits that can’t be – credits get retired after set number of years
  • Carbon market represents less than 1% of all human-generated emissions
  • Voluntary carbon markets exist across the world – large majority in Asia (55%)
  • Kinds of projects: renewable energy, waste handling and disposal, mining , manufacturing, fugitive emissions, energy demand, chemical industry
  • Verified Carbon Unit inputs:
    • Real
    • Measurable
    • Permanent
    • Additional
  • VCU Outputs:
  • Independently verified
  • Transparently listed
  • Uniquely numbered
  • Conservatively estimated
  • Verified Carbon Standard components:
    • Methodologies
    • Registry system
    • Independent auditing
  • “Permanence” defined as 100-year period
  • Voluntary Market Standards and Programs include:
    • Verified Carbon Standard
    • Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards
    • Gold Standard
  • Project Development Process Steps:
    • Project description
    • Validation
    • Registration
    • Monitoring report
    • Verification
    • Issuance
  • Methodologies under VCS:
    • Projects must use an approved methodology to quantify GHG emission reductions/removals
    • Methodologies set out detailed procedures for quantifying GHG benefits of a project
  • Key components of methodologies
    • Applicability conditions
    • Project boundary
    • Baseline scenarios
    • Additionality
    • Quantification of emission reductions and removals
    • Monitoring
  • Current and valid version of methodology must always be used


TCCPI Priorities & Goals for 2020 – All

We broke into small groups for this discussion and shared thoughts about what participants would like to see TCCPI focus on in 2019 as far as priorities and goals are concerned..

Group #1

  • TCCPI participants or the steering committee could define key questions for 2020, which we could then explore at monthly meetings
  • What is a key question the TCCPI community wants to answer or finds relevant? How can we turn meetings into an inquiry process that practices collective problem solving?
  • One invited presenter (with relevant subject matter expertise) per meeting would be given a key question ahead of time -- after their presentation, the group would spend 45-60 mins thinking/discussing/generating answers together to that particular question
  • Examples:
    • What would a local carbon offset market look like – how would it work?
    • How do we develop the necessary community resilience to survive the climate crisis?
    • What kinds of messages work to move people to collective action
    • How do we promote urban-rural interdependence?
  • Could take place in small groups like today, or as a plenary, depending on question and # of people present
  • TCCPI website should have some sort of directory of participants that helps us know each other - contact info, areas of work, resources wanted/offered – this could help facilitate more collaboration, especially as new participants join in

Group #2

  • Monthly report on Ithaca Green New Deal progress – how will we reach the Ithaca GND goals?
  • Also presentations on how neighboring municipalities are doing – could promote cross-fertilization
  • For example, Lansing is wrestling with large-scale development projects – how will we support effort to reduce its carbon footprint?
  • What are the external forces for a carbon market here? How do we support local farmers to also engage with these markets as partners?
  • How do we implement community choice aggregation?
  • What about having Cornell and IC report on the progress they are making in achieving their GHG emission reduction targets?
  • What will the regulatory rollout of CLCA look like? How will it impact us? How do we engage this process?
  • Regenerative agriculture and soil carbon farming are also important topics we should explore
  • How should a commitment to equity shape the implementation of the Green New Deal? How do we develop a shared language, commitment, and vision around a narrative of climate justice?

Group #3

  • We should focus on energy leaks from low-income, substandard housing – what building codes would help address this and how do we ensure effective enforcement?
  • Also we should bring students into TCCPI projects and meetings
  • Other issues:
    • Support for city and town in achieving 2030 goals
    • Transportation outside of Tompkins County – how do we promote regional systems and best practices?
    • Quantifying carbon sinks in county for sequestration
    • Support and resources for local sustainability directors outside Ithaca
    • How do we promote commitment to climate justice and raise awareness of poverty and racial justice issues?
    • Regenerative agriculture and ways of sharing information that strengthen ties between rural and urban agroforestry initiatives

Group #4

  • Storm water management and rising sea levels
  • More structured and locally focused speaker series
  • Working groups focused on action
  • Reporting back on practical applications of topics covered in monthly meetings

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