Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

March-April 2015

In This Issue
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Featured Article: 
 Streets Alive!

Spring Robin Singing



Welcome to the March-April issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).
Photo by Paul Sableman 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. 

City of Ithaca Signs Agreement for Large-Scale Solar Installation

City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick recently signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for a 2.4 megawatt solar array planned for construction on 10 acres of land at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, bringing the City one step closer to its dream of a large-scale solar installation. The system is planned for completion around the end of 2015. 


Cornell Solar Farm at Snyder Rd. Photo credit: Cornell University.

"The economic and environmental benefits are enormous. We will save taxpayers money and reduce our GHG emissions by 874 tons every year," said Myrick.  "I want to thank Sustainability Coordinator Nick Goldsmith and the entire City staff. This project is a big deal. It took a lot of internal discussion, a lot of cross-departmental collaboration, to make this happen. Ultimately Common Council voted unanimously to approve the agreement." 


Under the terms of the PPA, solar provider Solar City will be responsible for the design, installation, and maintenance of the system.  A remote net-metering arrangement will be used, whereby the City of Ithaca will purchase all electricity generated by the system from Solar City, that power will feed into the NYSEG grid, and the City of Ithaca will get a monetary credit for each kilowatt hour of electricity in the form of a reduced electric bill. 


The City will also see a reduced carbon footprint. Goldsmith, who is spearheading the solar farm project, estimates the initiative will reduce the same amount of GHG emissions as that produced by the electricity use of 120 homes. "Between our ongoing energy efficiency efforts, and now this solar project, we are well-poised to meet our sustainability goals," said Goldsmith, "and we're saving money too!"


The City will be joining both Tompkins Cortland Community College and Cornell University as major purchasers of energy produced by large-scale photovoltaic projects in Tompkins County.

Flood Resiliency and Climate Change Focus of Local Workshop

by Peter Bardaglio, TCCPI Coordinator


Last May the community of Penn Yan in Yates County got nearly a month's worth of rain in just a matter of hours. The flash flood that resulted caused millions of dollars in damage and forced the closure of highways and roads. At least 50 businesses and 150 homes suffered from the effects of the flooding spawned by a storm that dumped between five and nine inches of rain on the area.


With the onset of climate change, according to recent scientific studies, the regional trend toward frequent, intense rain events in a short period of time is likely to continue. The results are recurring flooding and erosion issues for communities, which will put additional strains on municipal budgets already stretched to the breaking point.

A flash flood in May 2014 caused extensive damage to homes and businesses in Penn Yan, NY.

To meet the challenge of extreme precipitation events, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, together with the Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University, held a workshop on April 16 at The Space @ GreenStar in Ithaca. The program attracted more than 90 attendees, including
 municipal officials, highway personnel, planners, and engaged community members.


Speakers explored watershed resiliency strategies to minimize future flooding impacts and limit the expense of such events. They shared planning tools for identifying risks to the the participants' communities, funding sources, and what other communities have done to prioritize risks, take preventive measures, and recover from extreme events.


The workshop opened with an introduction to the dynamics of watersheds and then turned to the issue of how changing weather patterns are creating problems for roadway and drainage infrastructure, and how a green infrastructure approach can provide a framework for efficient, sustainably supported resiliency efforts. Although there is no one size-fits-all solution to the problems caused by the intense rainfall rates, the session looked at several measures that can minimize the damage.


The final two sessions examined the elements of effective financing strategies and how a green infrastructure approach can provide a framework for efficient, sustainably supported resiliency efforts and highlighted the various state and federal funding opportunities available to aid flooding resiliency efforts, along with strategies for obtaining and leverage these funds. Participants heard case studies presented on rural communities in New York, including Penn Yan, that have formed task forces, created funding plans, or took action towards flood resiliency.

The day wrapped up with a roundtable discussion that provided attendees to share their own experiences and strategies, and to respond to the ideas presented in the preceding sessions.

Sharon Anderson, one of the event organizers and Environment Team Leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, was very pleased with the turnout. She said that, following the workshop, there had been several requests from other area communities for similar programs. "Everyone knows that it's just a matter of time before their town or village will get hit by flash flooding and they want  to be prepared," she remarked.

Next TCCPI Meeting:

Friday, May 29, 2015

9 to 11 am

Borg Warner Room

Tompkins County Public Library
101 East Green Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

 Celebrate Arrival of Spring (Finally) by Joining a Local CSA Farm!
By Karim Beers, Get Your GreenBack Campaign Coordinator

With Spring finally here, it's time to start thinking about buying CSA shares for 2015. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, makes it possible for farmers to have established markets for their crops and for consumers to receive a weekly shipment of fresh, local produce, usually at a much cheaper cost when compared to regular grocery shopping.


CSA is a great way to Get Your GreenBack. And with dozens of local CSA farms, there are convenient options for pick-up, size of share, and share type. A regular produce share can help save you hundreds of dollars compared to buying the same amount of quality produce at the supermarket. And it takes about 100 shares to support a full-time farmer with a living wage.


Sharon Tregaskis of Tree Gate Farm talks with local residents about CSAs. Photo by Sandy Repp.

Jason Wallace, a local resident, says, "My three girls love our CSA. They enjoy heading out there every week, picking out vegetables, getting flowers from the U-pick gardens, and just being at the farm. Our experience has been very positive, especially since you're able to pick and choose what you take instead of it being determined for you."


Sara Knobel, director of the Groton Public Library, says, "I bought a share from a farm in Groton - it was absolutely wonderful. The pickup was at the Library and the boxes were loaded with a variety of fresh produce. This share made me eat healthier, and helped me try new things. Plan to buy again this year - great deal for the price!"

And Marshall McCormick says he raves about his CSA to just about everyone he knows. "It's been fun learning to cook new veggies and to creatively use familiar veggies in ways we hadn't thought of. It's nice to have everything conveniently packed up in a box. I look forward to Thursday pickups every week."

Join these residents this Spring by purchasing a CSA share and supporting local agriculture, saving money on food, and eating healthier! You can find a directory of local CSAs here.



One Last Thing: The Pope Speaks Out on Climate Change

Earlier this week Pope Francis convened a major conference in Rome on climate disruption. It is one of several events planned by the Vatican ahead of his much-anticipated encyclical on global warming and the environment. The conference included speeches by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders of the pontifical academies, along with panels on the relevant scientific, moral, and economic issues.


Pope Francis addresses the European Parliament in November 2014. Photo by European Union is licensed under CC BY NC-ND 2.0.

The Vatican did not pull its punches In the run up to the conference or at the conference itself, signaling its determination to move the conversation to a new level of urgency.

Last month Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped write the first draft of the encyclical, declared that g
lobal inequality and the destruction of the environment "are the greatest threats we face as a human family today." "A changing of human hearts in which the good of the human person, and not the pursuit of profit, is the key value," he insisted, would be required to meet these threats.


Striking a similarly resolute tone, the Vatican issued a statement at the close of the conference on Tuesday, emphasizing that "human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity." Pointing out that the climate summit in Paris later this year "may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2-degrees C," it called for a rapid transition "to a world powered by renewable and other low-carbon energy and the sustainable management of ecosystems."


The Pope's encyclical on climate change will not be the first time that the Church has addressed this issue. But it is the first time that it will be the subject of an encyclical, which carries great authoritative weight for Roman Catholics. 

The Vatican's sustained engagement with the threat of global warming underscores the fact that science and technology can only take the discussion so far. They can explain the causes and consequences of climate destabilization and pose technical solutions. But it is values, especially a commitment to the generations that come after us, that will provide the motivation to implement the solutions, which are likely to be expensive and politically fraught.


Building a sustainable world, in short, is as much a cultural and ethical project as it is a scientific and engineering endeavor. It is a task that requires imagination, compassion, collaboration, and creativity, a willingness to live our lives differently. In Pope Francis's words, "We need to care for the earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family."

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.