Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

July-August 2012

In This Issue
EPA Climate Showcase Communities Break Ground
The ICLEI World Congress: A Report from the Field
One Last Thing
Quick Links

Our Supporters
Featured Article
ICLEI World Congress: A Report from the Field

Great Blue Heron



Welcome to the July-August 2013 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).
Sailing on Cayuga Lake


TCCPI is a multisector collaboration seeking to leverage the climate action commitments made by Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, and the Town of Ithaca to mobilize a countywide energy efficiency effort and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Launched in June 2008 and generously supported by the Park Foundation, TCCPI is a project of Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).


We are committed to helping Tompkins County achieve a dynamic economy, healthy environment, and resilient community through a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. 

EPA Climate Showcase Communities Break Ground


Two of Ithaca's Climate Showcase Communities broke ground in late June: the TREE neighborhood at EcoVillage at Ithaca and the Aurora Pocket Neighborhood (APN) project in downtown Ithaca. TREE will include 25 new homes and 15 apartments and the Aurora Pocket Neighborhood will add 3 new homes to the community. Construction for both communities is expected to be completed by September 2013.  

The Aurora Pocket Neighborhood includes many green features. Photo credit: New Earth Living.

These two residential developments will help meet Tompkins County's 2050 goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions today-using existing and emerging technologies and practices. The homes in the TREE and APN neighborhoods are designed to be 80 percent more efficient than current residential buildings in the U.S.  


Tompkins County, in partnership with EcoVillage, was awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2011 to demonstrate how innovative, on-the-ground approaches can be used to create neighborhoods that enhance residents' quality of life while using fewer resources. The EPA grant focuses on documenting EcoVillage's innovative, successful methods of green building, mixed land-use planning, and community development, and applying those methods to more mainstream developments in a variety of settings. 


"The EPA Climate Showcase Communities project grew out of an unexpected collaboration between folks in the community who were already doing this work," noted County Commissioner of Planning and Community Sustainability Ed Marx. "This federal grant provides us with the opportunity to elevate this work and communicate it to a broader audience. Our project is the only one focused on new residential development among the 50 EPA climate showcase communities nationwide," he explained.


A recent analysis showed that the ecological footprint of residents in the two existing neighborhoods at EcoVillage at Ithaca is 70% less than the U.S. average. The TREE neighborhood aims to decrease this footprint even more, while preserving a high quality of life for residents. TREE will employ state-of-the-art "Passivhaus" design, which originated in Germany and is considered the greenest building standard in the world. There are about 25,000 Passivhaus certified homes in Europe, but only 13 homes in the U.S. have achieved Passivhaus certification. The TREE community will triple the U.S. figure by constructing 25 new homes which qualify for Passivhaus certification. Estimated home prices range from $85,000 for studio apartments to $250,000 for a four-bedroom home.

The Aurora Pocket Neighborhood is a project of New Earth Living LLC, and a collaboration between builder Sue Cosentini and designer Rob Morache. The mission of New Earth Living is to create a new model for living that fosters social connections, affordability, and a minimal ecological footprint. The APN site is at the corner of North Aurora and Marshall Streets in Ithaca, in an existing neighborhood. Homes will be arranged around a common courtyard with many raised vegetable beds and fruit and nut trees. This central courtyard will serve as a gathering place for residents and provide opportunities for social connection and home gardening.



Eat local and save this summer!


Take a step to save money and energy.



Next TCCPI Meeting:

Friday, August 31, 2012

9 to 11 am

Borg Warner Room

Tompkins County Public Library
101 East Green Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

The ICLEI World Congress: A Report from the Field

by Dominic Frongillo, TCCPI Steering Committee Member


ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability has over 1,220 local government members from 70 countries, representing more than 569,885,000 constituents. Founded in 1990, ICLEI provides support, training, and collaboration for tracking metrics and implementing sustainable development practices to members. Local ICLEI members include the City of Ithaca, Town of Ithaca, Town of Dryden, and Tompkins County.


I had the opportunity to travel to the 2012 ICLEI World Congress from June 14-17 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in the lead up to Rio+20, with support from ICLEI and TCCPI. 

Dominic at ICLEI
Dominic Frongllio addressed the ICLEI World Congress in June.


Held every three years, the World Congress is the largest global convening of ICLEI membership. This year, the conference immediately preceded the Rio+20 U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, held on the 20th anniversary of the first Rio Summit and a disappointment for many observers.


In the absence of true leadership on sustainable development from national governments, cities and other subnational actors are driving the world's transition towards sustainability. Local governments are more agile and responsive than nation-states, and are actively engaging citizens to raise awareness about climate change and sustainability. Across the world, cities are shifting their strategies for pursing sustainability from top-down approaches to multi-sector collaborative approaches.


The ICLEI World Congress was inspiring and hopeful. Over 1,600 participants from 900 local governments in 64 countries were in attendance. Presentations and conversations were lively and covered a refreshing range of emerging topics. Over 250 speakers provided case studies and research on topics ranging from green economy, resource-efficiency, smart infrastructure, climate mitigation, resilience, and community vitality.


Read More

One Last Thing
We've all noticed the increase in extreme weather over the last few months. Almost two-thirds of the lower 48 states are now suffering from drought conditions, the Washington Post pointed out last week. Nearly all of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois are in extreme or exceptional drought, making this the worst dry spell since the 1950s. 
It's not only been dry; the New York Times reported that the first six months of 2012 were the hottest since record keeping began in 1895. In early July, another Times article noted, the surface of Greenland's ice sheet melted to a greater extent than ever observed in 30 years of satellite monitoring. About half of the surface of the ice sheet usually melts, but from July 8 to July 12, the ice melt reached 97 percent.
More and more people are making the connections between the extreme weather and climate change. The percentage of Americans who now believe that climate change is occurring rose to 70 percent in July, according to a University of Texas poll, and those insisting that it was not fell to 15 percent. A 2010 survey showed, in contrast, that only 52 percent of the American public thought that the climate was changing.
The following video shows Berkeley Earth's land surface temperature data from 1800 to 2009, tracking deviation from the mean temperature and overall global warming since the Industrial Revolution. For more information about this study visit
Berkeley Earth Land Temperature Anomaly Video (Decadal, July 2012)
 Land Surface Temperature Deviation from the Median, 1755 to Present Source: Berkeley Earth - July 2012
The story told in this video, even though it's statistical, couldn't be more dramatic. All one has to do is watch the spread of yellow, orange, and red across the map to understand that the planet is not the same place it was in 1800. The real question is, what are we going to do about it? In Bill McKibben's words, "Climate change operates on a geological scale and time frame, but it's not an impersonal force of nature; the more carefully you do the math, the more thoroughly you realize that this is, at bottom, a moral issue."


Peter Bardaglio 
TCCPI Coordinator
Upgrade Upstate

Visit to get a no-cost or reduced-cost energy assessment. Learn which rebates, tax credits, and loans you qualify for to help pay for work. Check out how-to videos for low-cost/no-cost improvements and testimonial videos of Tompkins County residents who have made upgrades. Upgrade Upstate is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.