Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

January-February 2014

In This Issue
Featured Article: Local Author Publishes Book on Green Buildings
Black Oak Reaches Key Development Milestones
Smart Energy Policy Intiiative Gains Traction in County
The Coolest Carpool Challenge
One Last Thing: The Importance of Collaborative Leadership
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Featured Article: 
Local Author Publishes Book on Green Buildings



Welcome to the January-February issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).
                                                                         Photo by Doug Kerr is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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. 

Black Oak Wind Farm Reaches Key Development Milestones

by Marguerite Wells, Project Manager


Black Oak Wind Farm in Enfield, about 10 miles west of Ithaca, achieved several significant milestones in the past few months, moving slowly but surely towards the day when it begins operation. The first commercial-scale wind farm in the East owned by local investors, the 11.9 MW project consists of seven 1.7MW turbines manufactured by General Electric (GE). The total cost will be about $34 million.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), consisting of 21 separate studies and totaling some 1,600 pages, was completed and a public hearing was held in July. Nearly all of the 

speakers at the public hearing expressed strong support for the project and the Final EIS is now being readied for approval by the Town Board of Enfield.

Members of the Black Oak board, Enfield residents, and local government officials visited the Howard Wind Farm last March. Photo credit: Mike Meador.


The Black Oak board attained another major milestone in December when it executed a contract with GE for the turbines. At the same time a construction crew graded the turbine roads and dug a foundation hole for a permanent met tower to collect wind data. 


Together these actions ensured that the wind farm met Internal Revenue Service requirements for the federal production tax credit, a critical part of the project's financial viability. Congress did not extend this tax incentive for the wind industry beyond 2013, which obviously made qualifying last year a crucial task.  


Perhaps most significant, NYSERDA announced last month that it had awarded a contract to Black Oak to buy its renewable energy credits for the first ten years. The $16.3 million contract represents another key revenue stream for the wind farm. The downside of the NYSERDA award was that it required a $400,000 letter of credit for contract security to guarantee Black Oak's follow-through, necessitating a second round of equity financing.


Black Oak's first round was very successful, raising $1.2 million from over 80 investors, most of whom are from the local community. The second round also went smoothly, with another $625,000 raised in just a few weeks. Twenty-six new members joined as a result of the latest round, bringing the wind farm's membership to about 110 households.


Other important milestones include the receipt of bids from contractors to construct the project; conclusion of the second of three interconnection studies with the NYISO; and installation of high speed internet, which will service the project but also provide service to western Enfield residents for the first time. Major construction will be underway by this fall and Black Oak should be open for business in spring 2015.

Smart Energy Policy Initiative Gains Traction in Tompkins

by Peter Bardaglio, TCCPI Coordinator


Efforts to identify actions local governments in Tompkins County can take to accelerate the transition to a more efficient, renewable energy future have gained significant momentum recently with the emergence of an ad hoc working group called the Smart Energy Policy Initiative (SEPI). 


The group, which includes representatives from local municipalities, the Tompkins County Planning Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension-Tompkins County, the Park Foundation, and

Photo credit: David Falconer, EPA.

the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, has decided after several months of discussions and research to focus on a small number of priorities it believes will be most effective in moving the community forward. 


The initiative seeks to streamline and improve the understanding of codes and review processes for energy systems, as well as provide energy ratings of buildings that will allow renters and purchasers of property to make more informed choices. The four areas identified as priorities for the next few years are

  1. Uniform Solar Permitting: encouraging adoption of the State's new permit for residential photovoltaic system installations; 
  2. Home Energy Rating and Disclosure: carrying out a study to determine the benefits and potential drawbacks of an action to mandate an energy rating disclosure when a home is put on the market to help the potential buyer have a clear understanding of energy efficiency; 
  3. Energy Conservation Code Education Program: engaging in educational outreach to ensure builders and code enforcement officials have a clear understanding of the recently revised Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS); and 
  4. Building Labeling for Multi-Family Rental Properties: exploring ways to ensure that all municipalities in Tompkins County, especially the City of Ithaca and Villages, examine and develop a labeling system for multi-family rental properties to encourage energy-saving upgrades to multi-family buildings. 
The work group has made progress on several fronts. The Town of Enfield became the first municipality in Tompkins County to the state's unifed solar permit, and several other local governments are now considering a similar move. NYSERDA is providing $2,500-$5,000 for municipalities that approve the streamlined process, as part of an effort to reduce solar project costs and encourage the growth of the solar industry in New York.
In addition, a consortium of five municipalities in Tompkins County has received funding from the NYSERDA Cleaner Greener Communities program to carry out the Home Energy Rating and Disclosure Ordinance project. The Town of Ithaca was the lead applicant; also participating are the towns of Ulysses, Caroline, and Danby and the City of Ithaca. 
The project will involve the creation of a home energy rating program and implementation plan, analysis of associated costs and expected benefits, identification of potential resistance and unintended consequences, and development of standard forms for home energy rating.

Finally, NYSERDA has just awarded Taitem Engineering a contract to implement a training program for architects and engineers designed to improve their understanding of the state's Energy Conservation Construction Code. New York is seeking to achieve at least 90% of all residential and commercial buildings in compliance with the revised ECCCNYS by 2017. Effective enforcement of the code, according to Taitem founder and chairman Ian Shapiro, could reduce energy consumption by 10-20 percent.


Taitem is part of a larger group, the Urban Green Council, that will be developing a curriculum aimed at code enforcement officiers, contractors, and energy service companies, as well as architects and engineers, under the agreement with NYSERDA. The SEPI work group wrote letters of support for the NYSERDA application and has committed to help raise awareness about the new curriculum and the importance of the training it provides when released later this year.

Next TCCPI Meeting:

Friday, February 28, 2014

9 to 11 am

Borg Warner Room

Tompkins County Public Library
101 East Green Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

The Coolest Carpool Challenge: How Full Can You Go?
By Karim Beers, Campaign Coordinator for Get Your GreenBack Tompkins

Don't like driving in winter? This January, let someone else drive, and join the 6,000 others in Tompkins County who are saving energy and money by carpooling. Sharing rides can help those with cars spend a lot less, while helping those without get around.

Carpooling is cool. An average commuter in Tompkins County can save $1,500 by carpooling, and keep 2,500 lbs of CO2 out of the atmosphere!
Join the Coolest Carpool Challenge in Tompkins County! 

Beyond reducing pollution and saving money, carpooling can have positive personal benefits. Research shows that carpoolers report less stress and feel more positively connected to their coworkers and their workplace.

By carpooling or ridesharing you essentially divide the costs of driving by the number of people in the car. Sharing spare seats in our cars also contributes to the strength of our community. Offering a ride to those without a car is one way car owners can help neighbors and forge friendships. Hitchhiking may be unappealing to many, but through neighbors and friends you can probably find people you trust to share the ride (and the gas) with you.

Want to give carpooling a try? Join the Coolest Carpool Challenge, a fun week-long carpooling competition sponsored by 
Way2Go and Get Your Green Back Tompkins. Learn about the competition categories and more here.

Looking for a quick way to connect with other carpoolers in your area? Zimride is an online social network that matches up people who need rides with others going the same way. Go to to register today!

Share your carpooling story on the Way2Go Facebook page or register your carpooling step here for a chance to win a free membership to Ithaca Carshare!




Take a step to save money and energy.








One Last Thing: The Importance of Collaborative Leadership

Growing climate disruption makes it increasingly clear that the old ideas about leadership aren't working. When the worst drought in 500 years strikes California, England endures the wettest winter in 250 years, and an historic heat wave sets off a rash of bushfires in Australia all at the same time, the weaknesses inherent in traditional notions of the "leader-as-hero" become all too apparent.                                 
Winter storm batters the coast of England earlier this month. Photo by Peter Morgan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
In the face of such complex and interrelated challenges, we need to move towards a more collaborative and distributive model, one in which "leaders-as-host" build on a network of relationships, inviting people from all parts of the system to participate and contribute to the process of developing solutions. As Deborah Frieze and Margaret Wheatley contend, this approach "is the only way to get large-scale, intractable problems solved." 
Since it was first launched in 2008, TCCPI has sought to demonstrate what this kind of collaboration looks like and the impact it can have on a region's economic, social, and environmental health. But it is only one among many such efforts in our community. A terrific example of collaborative leadership can be found on South Hill, where Ithaca College, PPM Homes, Cornell Cooperative Extension-Tompkins County, and the South Hill Civic Association have joined hands to raise student awareness about the importance of energy conservation.
Energy efficiency in rental properties is notoriously difficult to achieve in part because of the problem of "split incentives." Often landlords don't make efficiency investments because it's the renters who pay the energy bills. In cases where the landlord pays the utilities, the tenant has little financial incentive to practice energy conservation. The result is housing that wastes energy and costs more than it should. 
Unless the different stakeholders come together and work out a solution that makes sense to everyone, the status quo prevails. In a community like Ithaca where 73% of the housing market consists of rental properties, split incentives pose a significant challenge to attempts to reduce the city's carbon footprint.
As a result of the South Hill collaborative process, PPM Homes carried out extensive upgrades to make its rental properties more energy efficient and provided free bus passes to encourage less reiiance on automobiles. At the same time, the process brought students into the conversation, helping them understand their role as tenants in improving energy conservation. Ithaca College, Cooperative Extension, and the South Hill Civic Association all reinforced this effort, working to heighten the students' sense of responsibility to the community at large.
As the South Hill experiment underscores, collective efforts involving "leaders-as-hosts" draw together key stakeholders and engage them in a course of action that begins with discovering and making explicit common intention and ends with collectively creating the kinds of innovation needed to effectively address difficult problems. Such cooperative ventures provide a framework for multisector collaboration that helps to light the path ahead. 
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.