to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018

April 2018

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

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

March 2018

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

February 2018

An Ian Shapiro Double Feature

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

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

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

 I. Climate Reality Training

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

 II. Emerging Research Trends in Building Science

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

Green Building Policy Proposal – Discussion

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

January 2018

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

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

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


The Green Building Policy Project – Nick Goldsmith

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

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

Meeting Highlights: 2018

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