to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
Alternatives Federal Credit Union
Center for Community Transportation
The Center for Community Transportation (CCT) envisions a community where travel by shared and active transportation is healthy, safe, affordable, and convenient for all. The CCT's mission-focused services and activities include Ithaca Carshare, Bike Walk Tompkins (and its signature program Streets Alive! Ithaca), and Backup Ride Home, emphasizing social equity and environmental sustainability in this era of new transportation options and emerging mobility trends. CCT works with local transportation providers, educators, planners, decision-makers, advocates, and users to fulfill the mission of enhancing transportation access in our community while reducing its negative environmental and economic impacts.
Bike Walk Tompkins
Backup Ride Home
The Backup Ride Home program provides peace of mind for commuters who travel to work without a personal vehicle (bus, carpool, bike, etc.). Ithaca Carshare’s on-call staff facilitate free alternate transportation home if something unexpectedly happens that makes an original commute plan home impossible. In 2021, with stronger partnership with GO ITHACA in place, enrollment doubled to a total of 562. Seventeen calls were received, and twelve rides were provided.
CCT is a program partner with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s GO ITHACA transportation benefits
program, offering development, operations, and oversight support to the burgeoning program, specifically
in the development of transportation benefits packages and special services for low-income commuters
and residents on the GO Easy Access plan. CCT also supports GO ITHACA working toward the creation
of a Transportation Management Association (TMA), interfacing with development and transportation
Transportation Equity Coalition
The CCT participated in biweekly meetings of the Transportation Equity Coalition, which solidified mission and vision statements in 2021 and secured funding for the implementation of a Transportation Needs Assessment to be done in 2022.
Citizens Climate Lobby, Southern Finger Lakes Chapter
Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Our Southern Finger Lakes chapter draws members from Steuben, Chemung, Yates, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, and Seneca Counties.
In 2021 members of our Southern Finger Lakes Chapter:
City of Ithaca
The Climate Reality Project, Finger Lakes Greater Region NY (FLGR-NY) Chapter
The Finger Lakes Chapter of Climate Reality includes inspired climate activists located in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of Central NY. We are working to unify climate activism over a fairly widespread area, with plans to improve public awareness of the climate emergency and to actively promote the completion of the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) for our region. The Chapter also aims to reach out and work cooperatively with other active environmental, climate justice and sustainability groups within the region.
Cornell Cooperative Extension – Tompkins County
Clean Energy Communities (and Climate Smart Communities)
CCE-Tompkins staff leads the Southern Tier program
Ithaca Green New Deal
The Energy & Climate Change Team continued to work with City of Ithaca staff and other key stakeholders across the community to develop strategies for broad education and outreach around the IGND. Once plans with other groups leading the IGND decarbonization effort have been finalized, CCE-Tompkins will be leading the engagement efforts to fully decarbonize the city by 2030.
LMI EV Program
Growing out of EV Tompkins, the Energy & Climate Change Team collaborated with Way2Go, Ithaca Carshare, Ridge Road Imports, and Clean Communities CNY, under a program led by Energetics, to identify and work to address the barriers to the wider adoption of EVs, including growing the local used EV market, working with local lenders to provide more accessible financing options, and providing education and outreach to underserved populations (with a focus on low- and moderate-income [LMI] community members).
CCE-Tompkins developed a web site and set of program materials related to best practices for reducing energy use in agriculture. Resources for CCE educators across the state to engage with farmers in their communities include fact sheets, the web site (https://agenergyny.org), and a Moodle Course.
In 2021, the Energy & Climate Change Team worked with CCE-Tompkins Nutrition Team staff to deliver a series of cooking classes featuring portable single-burner induction cooktops in order to introduce people to the technology through a relatively inexpensive, easy-to-use appliance.
Other Programs and Activities:
Promoting Transportation Innovation & Exploring On-Demand Transit Solutions
To help address rural transit deserts and rural dependency on single-occupancy vehicles (SOV) in Tompkins County, TCAT, Gadabout, Way2Go, and Urban Mobility partnered in 2020 to launch an app-based, on-demand public transportation service, Tconnect. The service was to serve rural communities in the County. First started as a weekend service in the Lansing/Etna area, it was expanded to a weekday service in the Dryden/Freeville area in Fall of 2021.
In Lansing/Etna, over 700 people initially created an account on the Tconnect app, and the service provided a total of 1495 rides during the first year of the pilot. Way2Go helped create and disseminate a survey to Tconnect riders about their use of the service. 100% of respondents did not have regular access to a vehicle. The three main uses of the Tconnect service were to get to work (56.3%), connecting to TCAT routes (50%), and to get to shopping centers (43.8%).
The Dryden/Freeville weekday service did not see any significant ridership since its launch this past fall despite continued and varied outreach by partners across the service area. That service ended in December 2021 and TCAT and Way2Go will be exploring the reasons why the service was so popular in one area of the County and not another. Way2Go continues to support innovative ways to reach rural residents with transportation services and sees on-demand service as an important component. On-demand public transit remains a focus at TCAT and is an integral part of its Transit Development Plan, as a way to alleviate rural transit barriers and fill in service gaps.
Inclusive Electric Vehicle Education & Overcoming Barriers to EV Ownership
In coordination with our CCE-Tompkins Energy Team, Way2Go staff interviewed nine partner organizations including community action groups, advocacy groups, food pantries, and subsidized housing authorities, to understand how EVs might benefit low- and middle- income rural, suburban, and urban households. With that information, we produced basic EV outreach materials and piloted two free Tune Me Up car buying classes with Ridge Road Auto who sells used EVs and Alternatives Federal Credit Union. The classes addressed costs and benefits of car ownership and compared gas vehicles with EVs.
In collaboration with TCAT and Ithaca Carshare, CCE staff partnered on four events, offering opportunities to see EVs, plug them in, test drive them, and speak with EV commuters. We reached several hundred rural and urban residents who are low or middle income. Most participants were new to EVs and surprised by their performance and the substantial fuel and maintenance savings. Many came to the events with questions or misinformation, but subsequently expressed interest in owning an EV, especially after a test drive. Way2Go staff emphasized that EV prices would likely remain high until the global supply chain recuperates, demand drops, and the used EV market expands. In the meantime, Way2Go and our partners offer reliable resources to learn about and budget for a used EV.
Move Together NY: Facilitating Regional Solutions
The staff member for our Move Together NY project served as a mobility Champion, educating others at the regional and national levels on mobility options beyond single occupancy vehicles. She wrote a piece for the National Center for Mobility Management, “Rural Rideshare: Sustainability Beyond the Pilot.” Her conclusion: “Rural rideshare has potential for success by offering additional options where transit is not practical, but knowing who all your customers are, and matching supply with demand is critical to that success.”
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a comprehensive and transparent reporting framework for universities to track their sustainability performance. Cornell annually reports on hundreds of metrics related to campus operations, education, and more; it currently holds the highest possible rating: Platinum. In 2022 Cornell achieved a third consecutive Platinum Rating. The overall score is 86.35 out of 100, an improvement of 1.25 points over the previous year. Browse the 2022 Full STARS Report
Downtown Ithaca Alliance
EcoVillage at Ithaca, Inc.
Finger Lakes Land Trust
During 2021, the Land Trust accomplished the following in greater Ithaca/Tompkins County:
Finger Lakes ReUse
In 2021, Finger Lakes ReUse celebrated the grand opening of our expanded location, the ReUse MegaCenter at the Triphammer Marketplace. This is now one of the largest reuse business locations in upstate New York – more than 30,000 square feet combined, or a half-acre of retail space. The expanded ReUse MegaCenter received new flooring, and several of our departments were rearranged with new layouts.
The eCenter computer refurbishing program was relocated from the Ithaca ReUse Center to the MegaCenter, where there is now improved space for electronics processing, refurbishing, and storage. At the Ithaca ReUse Center, donation drop-offs were relocated from the nearby garage to our main retail building, which helped with overflow capacity and streamlined donations processing and material handling. These changes have been a huge accomplishment for us this past year, in the face of continued increasing donation volumes from the public, helping us to become more efficient in our operations for community reuse services.
We celebrated the completion of our Mural Project, a collaboration started in 2019 with Ithaca Murals and Words Into Deeds. Now finished are five beautiful, unique art installations reflecting on the themes of the Sustainable Development Goals, located on the interior and exterior of the Ithaca ReUse Center, and on one of our box trucks.
In addition, a major portion of our backstock of used clothing was sorted through by our team of summer youth workers, and we held a tent sale at the Ithaca ReUse Center with the clothing items priced at $1 or less. At the end of 2021, we started a collaboration with Cornell University’s Circular Construction Lab, Historic Ithaca/Significant Elements, and the Local Laborers 785 to deconstruct several buildings in Collegetown in order to maximize salvage of usable materials. We maintained 77 full-time equivalent jobs and added 16 new people to our team. We generated over $2 million in sales revenue of used materials, a total sales growth of 37% over 2020.
In 2021, Finger Lakes ReUse:
Fossil Free Tompkins
The pandemic continued to cast a shadow over FFT’s activities in 2021 save for a few moments. Nonetheless, we stayed busy enough…
NYSEG – Following approval of the NYSEG rate case by the PSC in late 2020, NYSEG was obligated to undertake various studies related to the transition away from fossil fuels. FFT provided feedback on the scoping plans for NYSEG’s Grid Modernization Study, Depreciation Study, and Gas Resiliency and RNG study. NYSEG was not obligated to include the recommendations we made. Results of these studies will inform NYSEG’s next rate case, which will get underway May 2022.
Lansing Non-Pipe-Alternative – In June 2021 the PSC approved the projects NYSEG had selected to be funded for the Lansing NPA project. Of special note is the fact that the projects did not clear the Benefit-Cost-Analysis test. In other words, based on NYSEG’s calculations, it would have been cheaper to install the mini-compressors rather than fund the NPA projects. Also, by NYSEG’s estimates the projects would not fully remedy the reliability concerns on really cold days. Nonetheless, both NYSEG and PSC agreed the projects should go forward. As of April 2022, none of the projects are yet underway.
Renewable Heat Now Coalition – FFT continued active participation in the RHN coalition. Our efforts included collaborating with other RHN members on comments in response to the PSC’s whitepaper on Gas Planning. In addition, FFT submitted our own comments that presented our unique insights gained as a result of our Lansing NPA project. RHN undertook an enormous project to draft legislation to revise Public Service Law to allow utilities to comply with the mandates of the CLCPA, and FFT was part of that drafting process.
Cryptomining – Our efforts to halt cryptomining accelerated markedly in 2021 thanks to the amazing leadership of Seneca Lake Guardians, Earthjustice, and Assemblymember Dr. Anna Kelles. FFT first flagged concerns about cryptomining in 2020 when a case came before the PSC to allow the Greenidge Power Plant on Seneca Lake to begin cryptomining at their facility, an action that would markedly increase the plant’s operation and GHG emissions. In early 2021 we had a conference call with DEC leaders to educate them about the problem. In subsequent months, we talked with counsel to Senate Environmental Conservation and Energy Committees to discuss legislation, participated in meetings with Governor Hochul’s staff, and provided comments to several working groups of the Climate Action Council. We spoke to incoming NYC Mayor Adams’ tech team about the climate impacts of cryptomining and provided written comments to the NYS legislature. In addition, we gave several webinars on the issue. Thanks to SLG’s leadership, the StopCryptmining coalition has expanded its membership, and a national Stop Cryptomining coalition was established.
Bell Station – In 2021, the NYSEG owned Bell Station property along the shores of Cayuga Lake, north of the Cayuga Power Plant, was put up for public auction. This parcel, which included nearly 4,000 feet of unspoiled shoreline along Cayuga Lake was a local environmental treasure, and the community was in an uproar over the prospect of seeing the parcel sold to the highest bidder. NYSEG maintained that they were required to conduct a public auction under PSC rules. The Finger Lakes Land Trust had long been interested in purchasing the parcel and began a campaign to enable NYSEG to sell to FLLT as the DEC’s agent. Assemblymember Kelles jumped into action and had multiple conversations with the DEC and Governor Hochul’s office. FFT worked behind the scenes, conducting legal research into NYSEG and PSC’s obligations regarding the public auction. We found a notable exception to the usual requirement since NYSEG ratepayers had not paid for the Bell Station property; hence NYSEG was not under obligation to achieve the best price to reimburse them. This information was pivotal in allowing NYSEG to halt the public auction and instead negotiate a price to sell the parcel to the FLLT, which will preserve and manage it as a public recreation area.
Get Your GreenBack Tompkins
While the pandemic significantly reduced the number of people, we were able to engage and support through in-person outreach, we still reached over 6,000 people using a variety of approaches, including online presentations, television interviews, and referrals from partners. We supported almost 600 people in taking action, the vast of majority of whom are households with limited income (under 80% of the area median income). The actions are mostly focused on whole home energy retrofits—insulating and air sealing homes to reduce heating load—but also include renewable heating system installs, going solar, and purchasing electric vehicles. The numbers below from our work in Tompkins County and the Southern Tier region show our cumulative impact from January 2020 through December 2021.
Cumulative Impact (2020-2021)
# Actions Taken
These numbers include those from GYGB staff and Energy Navigator volunteers, as well as one full-time and several part-time staff funded exclusively through the NYSERDA CEEP program, which is coordinated by GYGB staff.
These numbers are only slightly lower than our all-time high of 368 actions taken in 2019, the year before the pandemic began. Our continued impact demonstrates both the creativity of our small team, and the fact that we are now an established entity and do not have to rely as much on outreach, as people and partners are familiar with our work, and provide referrals or seek us out directly.
We are also proud that the numbers of people reached, contacts supported, and actions taken for our eight-county region are the highest in the state. When compared to the nine other economic development regions through which NYSERDA organizes the work of the Community Energy Engagement Program (CEEP), our results were both the highest in absolute terms, as well as the most effective per dollar spent. Comparing results from the beginning of the program in 2018 through fall of 2021, our Southern Tier region had registered 1,031 actions at a cost of $386 per action (calculated by dividing the funding received by the number of actions registered). While we were among the regions that received the least amount of funding from NYSERDA, the next highest region’s totals were 365 total actions, and a cost of $1,070 per action—that is, three times less effective.
These actions not only contribute to a decrease in household carbon emissions, but also represent a significant financial investment in our local economy. The actions account for a combined total of close to $4.8 million spent locally on home energy improvements, with the greatest portion, over $3.6 million, leveraging infusions of grant funds from state, federal, and utility programs. Every dollar our staff received from NYSERDA and the Park Foundation to do this educational work generated over ten dollars in outside investment in clean energy actions. The financial impact is significant. Most of the cost of energy efficiency work is labor, and thus these figures also represent dozens of living wage jobs in the region.
Largely due to the success of our efforts in the Southern Tier region, NYSERDA asked our office to take on the coordination of the CEEP work in the Central NY region after it was dropped by another agency. The GYGB coordinator agreed to manage the work and trained four staff from Cooperative Extension agencies in other counties in that region to conduct the outreach and oversee much of the management, while he continued to coordinate the overall work. Note that the numbers provided above do not include those from Central NY, where thousands more were reached in those five counties.
Others have also noticed the effectiveness of our energy advising program. The GYGB coordinator has been asked to join various NYSERDA task forces, including one on Energy & Equity, invited to an award panel and to present at a statewide energy-related conference, and staff have provided training to community energy advisors in other regions. While the CEEP program is slated to end in June 2022, the work is expected to continue with an expanded team through a larger NYSERDA program called Regional Clean Energy Hub (more on this below).
After years of planning and fund-raising, the tiny home PowerHouse was completed and has been active for over a year, providing support with general outreach even as we continue to develop fee-for-service programming for schools. Over 680 adults and 500 youth have visited the tiny home and as hoped, the tiny home has provided support to many partners’ public presence and outreach efforts, including HeatSmart campaigns in several regions (photo on the left shows outreach in the Town of Dryden), the NYSERDA Community Energy Engagement Program, the City of Ithaca, Historic Ithaca, and others. Several videos were developed as complements to the in-person experience, which are included on our companion PowerHouse website. GYGB staff and an intern also worked with Sustainable Tompkins to develop a custom poster to advertise the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, our local carbon offset.
We were successful in securing NYSERDA funding to support the expansion of the Energy Navigator program. The original curriculum was revised to make it relevant statewide (previously it was centered on
Tompkins County), and four staff from other Cornell Cooperative Extension offices throughout the state were trained to facilitate the training and manage volunteer efforts. They worked with over 40 volunteers in St. Lawrence, Chemung, Dutchess, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the volunteers reached over 5,700 individuals with messages about energy efficiency and clean energy through neighbor-to-neighbor discussions, tabling at festivals, and outreach at food lines.
Locally, another cohort of 11 volunteers primarily based out of Tompkins County, representatives of 2 community partners (the Newfield Public Library and the Paleontological Research Institution), and 3 staff from other Cornell Cooperative Extension associations completed the updated training in 2021. Since June 2021, these volunteers have dedicated at least 200 hours to outreach, tabling at 10 events (some featuring the PowerHouse) and assisting a dozen or more personal contacts in taking high-impact actions. In addition, the Energy Navigator training was used with over 20 NYSEG, RG&E and National Grid employees, to boost their energy literacy and enhance their capacity to assist consumers in navigating costs related to home energy use.
The GYGB coordinator and director of the Energy Warriors program (another CCETC program), became certified trainers using the “Roots of Success” curriculum. In 2021, in collaboration with the Finger Lakes ReUse Center, they carried out a small pilot effort using the curriculum to train a small group of people in green jobs while simultaneously building up skills by working at the ReUse Center. The idea has now spread locally and to other parts of the region; Roots of Success has been adopted at New Roots and a Binghamton high school and is being incorporated into the City’s workforce development plans as part of the Ithaca Green New Deal. It is gratifying to see how a little seed of summer research is growing into what may eventually be a mighty tree!
The Regional Clean Energy Hub – Paving the Way
In October 2021, NYSERDA released an RFP for the establishment of Clean Energy Hubs in each of the ten economic development regions of the state. The Hub structure was designed to build on the experience of the CEEP program and ramp up clean energy education and outreach efforts, incorporate and continue the clean heating and cooling (“HeatSmart”) campaigns, as well as add two more components: supporting clean energy workforce development efforts and engaging stakeholders—especially those from what the state is calling “disadvantaged communities”—in conversations about clean energy policies and programs. Significantly more funding has been awarded to the Hubs than CEEP, with the Southern Tier region slated to receive approximately $880,000 a year, as compared to the $130,000 a year for CEEP. GYGB was well poised to continue doing the work in the region and teamed up with several other organizations to build a stronger proposal. Over a period of three months, GYGB staff worked with others from the CCE-Tompkins Energy & Climate Team, the Network for a Sustainable Tomorrow (NEST) out of Broome County, HeatSmart Tompkins, and staff from CCE offices in Delaware, Chemung, and Schuyler counties, to put together a very strong proposal. We are hopeful that this coalition will be awarded the contract, which would be managed by the GYGB coordinator, beginning in the summer of 2022. If successful, the contract will support a total of 15 full- and part-time staff, for a combined total of close to 10 full-time equivalent positions.
In addition to the work focused on energy advising, education, and outreach, we have also led and supported a number of other initiatives:
HeatSmart Tompkins enjoyed unprecedented success in its final full year of serving the Tompkins County community. As of July 1, 2022, HeatSmart Tompkins will be turning over our day-to-day customer support operations to the newly minted Southern Tier Clean Energy Hub headed up by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and other regional partners. The HeatSmart Board, staff, volunteers, and community partners can take great pride in knowing they pioneered a successful model for grassroots education and guidance for building electrification that has now spread throughout NYS and beyond.
The key highlights for 2021 included:
Low to Moderate Income Initiatives
NYSERDA Heat Pump Demonstration Study
HeatSmart Tompkins was a leading organization in the implementation of NYSERDA’s low-to-moderate income heat pump demonstration study. Ninety out of the 413 total projects were in Tompkins County, representing about 22% of all the projects in the study, and a few more were in Chemung, bringing our program’s participation to about 25% of all projects completed through the study.
Single Family Projects by HeatSmart Tompkins
NYSEG LMI Adder
HeatSmart Tompkins also negotiated with NYSEG and the other HeatSmart teams to allow the HeatSmart programs to administer a program awarding $500,000 for NYSEG customers from the rate case settlement. There 50 funded projects total. 29 projects (58%) were HeatSmart Tompkins projects totalling $446,130. Four projects were GSHP, the rest were ASHP. Nine ASHP projects included a HPWH.
Community Campaigns - Clean Energy Communities
HeatSmart Tompkins embraced the opportunity to engage elected officials in community campaigns for clean heating and cooling and energy efficiency through the Clean Energy Communities Leadership Round. This was a terrific way to share information about the role of building electrification in meeting the state’s climate goals with elected officials in the region, as well as a new way to reach potential enrollees in the program. We are proud to report that every municipality we approached to do a community campaign voted to do so unanimously.
Last, but not least, HeatSmart Tompkins wants to acknowledge and thank founding member Brian Eden, who retired from HeatSmart after his many years of dedicated service to our organization as a volunteer and Board Chair. The impact of Brian’s stalwart and tireless advocacy at both the state and local level cannot be overstated. It’s safe to say that we would be nowhere without him.
Ithaca 2030 District
Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services
INHS is committed to encouraging the development of affordable, productive, and livable communities through incorporating smart growth practices and sustainable building into all real estate development.
Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council
Like most other agencies the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council (ITCTC) had to adjust its work program starting in 2020 to address pandemic conditions and needs. All our meetings continue to take place in a remote format. We continued to have strong participation from partners and our obligations managing surface transportation funding were met without interruption.
Specific activities during 2021 included:
Local First Ithaca
New Roots Charter School
New Roots is a small public high school with a big mission located in the heart of downtown Ithaca. Open to any student eligible for high school in the wider region, the tuition-free college and life preparatory program engages students in learning actively, thinking critically, and solving real world problems creatively and collaboratively, developing the knowledge and skills to turn 21st century challenges into opportunities. New Roots features a unique four-year learning sequence that fully integrates Education for Sustainability (EfS) standards and interdisciplinary, community-based projects featuring sustainability themes while meeting all New York State graduation requirements. The lower school program (grade 9-10) cultivates foundational understandings and skills that prepare students to become actively involved in their school and local community as leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists when they move into the upper school program (grades 11-12).
The State University of New York on March 17, 2022 awarded New Roots Charter School a charter renewal for a fourth charter term, which will run from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2025. The charter renewal comes on the heels of the United States Department of Education (“USDE”) designating New Roots as a Green Ribbon School at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. The award recognizes schools that reduce environmental impact and costs; improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.
This Spring, New Roots juniors and seniors have been piloting the green workforce development program adopted by the City of Ithaca, Roots of Success, with support from the Park Foundation. Students will receive Environmental Literacy certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, a credential that regional employers will be looking for when hiring employees at all levels. New Roots is a member of a new regional green workforce development consortium which, along with partners such as Tompkins Cortland Community College, will open up pathways for young people to bring their unique gifts and passions to the growing green economy in our region.
“The project that the City of Ithaca and New Roots Charter School are undertaking has already become a leading example of a new type of partnership between academic and government institutions,” City of Ithaca Director of Sustainability Luis Aguirre-Torres said in a letter in support of the charter renewal dated January 6, 2022. “Our partnership with New Roots Charter School is of great importance for the City of Ithaca, if we are to achieve our goals.”
Student participants in the Youth Ecological Restoration Corps drafted a call-to-action letter to the Ithaca community after their experience volunteering for the Cayuga Wetlands Restoration Project:
Dear Ithaca Community,
We would like to share a message from the Youth Ecological Restoration Corps.
We acknowledge that this is native land of the Gayo’goho:no’.
We would like to give a special thanks to Paddledockers for partnering with us and hosting us this summer.
We write this as a collective unit and want to share what we witnessed and learned. Our project lasted from July 19th to July 30th, from the hours of 9:00am to 4:00pm through New Roots Charter School, funded by the Department of ENVS Conservation with
resources supplied by Paddledockers.
Part of our intention is to bring the land back to its original ecosystems using the wisdom and teachings of the native Gayo’goho:no’. During our time, we reintroduced native wetlands plants, cleaned up trash from the Cayuga Inlet, removed destructive invasive species and collected water samples to test.
Through this experience, we have learned more than we expected from the process of giving back to Cayuga Lake and our community. We write this letter to spread awareness. Working with the water, we have received a sense of environmental justice for all. By working closely with the wetlands ecosystems, we built a loving community through working together.
Our group reintroduced native cattail from other wetland areas in the region back into the inlet. Cattail filters nitrogen and phosphorus from the water. This is a way of combating harmful algal blooms caused by industrialization and the lack of protective wetlands ecosystems. In the last 30 years, big box stores were built on traditional wetland ecosystems. We feel burdened by the industrialization of this wetland ecosystem and condemn the decision made by local government to build on these wetlands. We also acknowledge that at large, Ithaca is a city that is built on top of traditional medicinal ecosystems of the Gayo’goho:no’.
Through this letter, we are making a call to action. While we are honored to move this important work forward, we recognize that every human being has a responsibility to dedicate ourselves to the health of the water and Earth. We are asking our community and local government to invest in programs that heal our regional ecosystems. By engaging in this work, the nine of us have reclaimed a connection with nature and a connection with others. We believe that by being of service to the Earth, this action heals relationships between peoples.
With Love and Honor,
Youth Ecological Restoration Corps
Paleontological Research Institution, Museum of the Earth, and Cayuga Nature Center
A highlight of 2021 was the adoption of the Energy Code Supplement, aka “green building policy,” by the City and Town of Ithaca. Taitem was privileged to be part of the effort to develop the code. Taitem is in the planning stages with BlocPower to implement Ithaca’s electrification and decarbonization program. Taitem’s Energy + Sustainability and Quality Assurance departments continue to provide a broad range of services for our clients. We continue to provide a variety of services through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) programs.
Sample local projects:
Taitem’s Design Department continues its work on new buildings and renovations/energy retrofits, often being able to provide integrated design and energy consulting services. Notable local projects include:
Farther afield, our teams are working on exciting projects that feature highly energy-efficient design:
Staff member Brendan Mangino presented at NESEA and PHIUS Con on the topic of heat pumps for domestic hot water. Taitem is recognized as a leader in designing hot water systems with this emerging technology.
Tier Energy Network
The Tier Energy Network (TEN) is an industry led collaboration of business, non-profits, government, and education to support the development of an industry cluster in clean energy technology in the Southern Tier. Our primary activities include:
The Executive Committee provides a broad skill set in the energy industry:
Jeff Smith: President of TEN, retired utility executive, member of many regional organizations.
Rick Mancini: Director of Wholesale Market Services for Customized Energy Solutions, retired from NYSEG with experience in electric supply and the NY energy markets
Cliff Olin: Chief Development Officer at C4V, Founder and Managing Director of Olin Capital Advisors
Dennis Lockhart: Principal of CIMSEE Consulting. Has developed lean manufacturing projects for Fortune 500 companies around the world
Sean Sullivan: Director of Smart Grids Innovation at Avangrid
Robert Lofthouse: Chair of Engineering Science Department at SUNY Broome
Diane Stefani: Broome County Environmental Management Chair, retired Human Resource Executive for Lockheed Martin Aerospace and Defense Business
Luis Aquirre-Torres: Director of Sustainability, City of Ithaca. Leader of the Ithaca Green New Deal and the Green Jobs Corridor
Sara Culotta: Market Lead – Energy & Sustainability – Siemens Smart Infrastructure
Support to the Executive Committee:
Adam Flint: Co-founder and steering committee member of Energy Democracy Alliance, Director of Clean Energy Programs for Network for a Sustainable Tomorrow (NEST)
Kelly Sullivan: Senior Project Developer for Bergmann PC
Southern Tier Update:
Clean energy took a major step forward in the Southern Tier in 2021. Major developments at the Huron Campus and the Ithaca Green New Deal are raising the profile of our region and providing significant job opportunities as noted below in the goals section. Some of the accomplishments include:
These developments will drive much of our activities for 2022 as we help the region to maximize the benefits. Workforce development is the number one priority. The major job categories are listed at the end of the report.
TEN Goals for 2022 include:
Clean energy job sources for the rest of the decade:
Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
the boards of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, New Roots Charter School, PRI/Museum of the Earth/Cayuga Nature Center, and EcoVillage at Ithaca, Inc, and he was a regular attendant at meetings of the Tompkins County Climate and Sustainable Energy Advisory Board.
Tompkins County Council of Governments Energy Committee
In 2021, based on the interest in moving forward with Community Choice Aggregation a grant proposal was submitted to the Park Foundation. The Park Foundation awarded the “Community Choice Aggregation in Tompkins County: Developing a Path Forward” proposal. This news, along with the following additional inputs, led to a series of summer discussions.
Sustainable Tompkins and the City of Ithaca engaged Paul Fenn, Local Power LLC, to provide agreed= upon activities and deliverables over a 16-month period. Local Power will work with the City and Town of Ithaca to develop and submit a plan to the PSC that will include financial, data security, community education, and local energy development components. Once the plan is approved, other municipalities will have the opportunity to join the City and Town in the program.
Tompkins County Environmental Management Council
Town of Caroline
Town Planning & Sustainability
Following on the findings and recommendations of the updated Comprehensive Plan reported last year, Caroline initiated drafting of zoning regulations appropriate for the town in early 2021. That process required the establishment of a Zoning Commission to “recommend the boundaries of the original zoning districts and appropriate regulations to be enforced therein, make a preliminary report, hold public hearings, and submit a final report to the local governing board…” The Zoning Commission has been meeting regularly since March 2021 towards developing draft zoning regulations appropriate for Caroline. Our goal is to establish zoning regulations that guide development in ways that promote the visions of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, protect the quality of life of Caroline residents, and support a diversity of livelihoods within the town.
Brighten Up Caroline (Clean Energy Communities Program)
Our Brighten Up Caroline town-wide LED bulb distribution was completed in 2021, with a final postcard mailing and concerted doorstep delivery managed by Program Director, Emily Adams. Our LED streetlight project was delayed due to a parts supply limitation but is now at the point of “substantial completion.” Completion of these two projects will close out our Brighten Up Caroline Clean Energy Communities grant.
Local Clean Heating & Cooling Campaign
Things came full circle in 2021 when we conducted a successful local Clean Heating & Cooling Campaign that was facilitated by Solar Tompkins/HeatSmart, an outgrowth of the Solarize Tompkins Southeast program back in 2013. Successful completion of this NYSERDA High Impact Action Item qualified Caroline for a $5,000 grant to promote local energy efficiency and/or renewable energy, our seventh High Impact Action Item. We are exploring how best to use these funds to further our sustainability goals in the community.
Town of Dryden
Town of Enfield
Town of Ithaca
In 2021, the Town continued to work towards its Green New Deal goal of an equitable transition to carbon neutrality by 2030 and approved additional sustainability staff capacity.
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