Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
The TCCPI Newsletter

September-October 2015

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 County Food Scraps Recycling Program Takes Off



Welcome to the September-October 2015 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).
Photo by Barbara Friedman is licensed under CC BY-NC 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 the Sustainable Markets Foundation.


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. 

Tompkins County Energy Roadmap Project Holds Open House

The Tompkins County Planning Department invites the community to a presentation and open house on Wednesday, October 21, to learn about the Tompkins County Energy Roadmap project and provide input and feedback.

The presentation and open house will be held this Wednesday at the Borg Warner Room of the Tompkins County Public Library, 101 E. Green Street, Ithaca, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. An explanation of the Roadmap process and findings will be presented at 5:45. Displays portraying the major elements of the Roadmap can be viewed before and after the presentation and staff will be available to answer questions and receive input.
Solar energy development plays a key role in the County's plans to achieve its greenhouse gas emissions goal. Photo courtesy of Tompkins County Planning Department.

The Energy Roadmap project assesses renewable energy and energy efficiency potentials in Tompkins County and presents alternative scenarios that would meet the County, City of Ithaca, and Town of Ithaca goal of an 80% reduction in community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Energy Roadmap was one of ten local measures identified in the County's 2020 Energy Strategy to help prepare the community to achieve its stated greenhouse gas emissions goal. 

The Roadmap is being developed to help guide activities around energy-related decision making, and includes an assessment of the potential of various local renewable energy sources to power the community, as well as the role that energy efficiency and demand management can play in reducing energy demand. The Roadmap puts those assessments into the context of the overall community energy picture today and projected in 2050 to identify scenarios for how both energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions goals can be met. 

For more information on the Energy Roadmap program and to review its findings to date, visit the program website at The Planning Department welcomes public input on the Energy Roadmap initiative through November 15. Please send comments to [email protected] or to 121 E. Court Street, Ithaca, NY 14850, or call 607-274-5560.
HeatSmart Tompkins Program Accelerates Clean Energy Transition

Coming off its successful two-year effort to increase the deployment of solar PV in the residential sector, Solar Tompkins is turning to the promotion of non-fossil fuel alternatives and efficiency measures for home heating and domestic hot water. Together these two account on average for 75% of the total energy use in Tompkins County homes. 

The HeatSmart Tompkins campaign aims to accelerate the deployment of super-efficient air- and ground-source heat pumps in combination with improvement of building efficiency through better insulation and air sealing. The new program launched in September with enrollment through the end of October 2015, and a contract signing deadline in late December 2015.

Residential heat pumps can significantly improve home energy efficiency, reducing costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a limited time program intended to jump-start the rate of homeowners adopting 
both building envelope and heat pump technologies. Heatsmart Tompkins offers tremendous opportunities and benefits for participating residents. Enrollment is a nonbinding indication that you would like to have an installer partner of your choice visit your home for a free energy assessment. For many families, it will make immediate economic sense.

Heat pumps draw heat from the ground or the outside air and transfer it to the interior of the home. They run on electricity and can be used for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Both ground-source and air-source heat pumps are effective at the low temperatures typical of this region. Because heat pumps can be powered by renewably generated electricity, they make it possible to move towards a zero-carbon home. 

By offering lower-than-market rate pricing and a simple process with vetted installation partners, the program makes home energy efficiency easily achievable. Insulation and air sealing, together with an air- or ground-source heat pump system, can provide great comfort, immediate cost savings, and a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, heat pumps can be powered by renewably-generated electricity which allows people to take a great next step toward shrinking their carbon footprint.

HeatSmart's installer partners, by participating in the program, should benefit in several ways: a significant increase in the number of local homeowners interested in pursuing these projects, a greater conversion rate of interested residents into customers, sustained interest among community members that can influence their friends and neighbors, and a rise in the volume of projects and corresponding revenue.

Next TCCPI Meeting:

Friday, October 30, 2015

9 to 11 am

Borg Warner Room

Tompkins County Public Library
101 East Green Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

 "Seal the Cracks" Raises Awareness About Local Carbon Offsets

The Finger Lakes Climate Fund has kicked its "Seal the Cracks" campaign this fall to raise awareness about local carbon offsetting and how to help others at the same time we take responsibility for our unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions.

The campaign will culminate in a community-wide carbon offset week from October 24 to 30 filled with fun and inspiring events for families, students, businesses, and local residents.

The goal is to raise $10,000 to help people in our community who don't have the money for basics like insulation, and who are at the same time most burdened by high heating costs.

The Finger Lakes Climate Fund uses carbon-offset donations to fund energy efficiency projects that would not otherwise be possible in lower-income households, increasing their comfort and security while providing local jobs. These grants fund insulation, air sealing, energy efficient heating equipment, and other upgrades to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

By helping to "seal the cracks", you can help individual local families while at the same time helping the larger community reach its climate protection goals with your carbon offset.

Created in 2010, the Climate Fund has awarded $26,364 in grants to 11 local households, one business, and one nonprofit. Typically, these matching grants leverage about five times more investment in energy improvements by filling the gap in financing.

You can join in today by visiting and offsetting your recent or upcoming travel or some of your building fuel use.

It's quick, easy, and surprisingly affordable!




Take a step to save money and energy!








One Last Thing: The Road to and from Paris 

All eyes are on the upcoming climate talks in Paris. Set to begin November 30, the UN Climate Change Conference is widely viewed as the last chance for a substantive international agreement to head off runaway climate destabilization. It seems likely that a deal will be struck, but the real question is whether it will be enough to do the trick.

Over the past several months, about 150 countries -- including China, the United States, the European Union, and India -- have made voluntary pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, when the deal is supposed to take effect. Negotiations in Paris will seek to build upon those commitments and create a structure to monitor and strengthen them.

The Paris climate talks, beginning next month, could be the last opportunity to prevent runaway climate change.
The major problem facing negotiators is that the commitments made so far are not sufficient to hold the world under 2 degrees C of warming. The general scientific consensus is that anything over 2 degrees C runs the risk of triggering dangerous changes that could cause global havoc.

This news comes as a flurry of new reports remind us that the road we are on currently will lead to disaster and that changes already underway will have terrible consequences, especially for the world's most vulnerable populations, the poor, young, old, and sick, to say nothing of other nonhuman species, many of which are vital to the health of the world's ecosystems.

A study issued just days ago by the National Academy of Sciences, for example, warned that greenhouse gas emissions will cause a dramatic collapse of the ocean's marine life unless we reverse course. A massive coral bleaching event that is sweeping across oceans from Hawaii to India to the Caribbean is among several developments underscoring the report's findings.

Another recently published analysis estimates that, given carbon emissions to date, the world has probably committed to at least 1.6 meters of long-term sea-level rise, more than five feet. This level of locked-in increase will submerge most of the homes in over 400 U.S. towns and cities, including New Orleans and Miami. Among cities tbat will experience similar fates if they do not take drastic action soon are New York City, Philadelphia, and Jacksonville.

Even as scientists point out that we have already experienced a global temperature rise of almost 1 degree C since the Industrial Revolution, many of them maintain that the worst effects of global warming can still be avoided. "The climate change problem is one that can be solved," insists climate expert Professor Chris Field of Stanford University. "We have the technologies, the resources - we just need to make the commitment."

The rapid drop in the cost of producing wind and solar energy is certainly among the most hopeful developments. As a result, the International Energy Agency earlier this month projected that by 2020, 26 percent of the world's energy will be generated by renewable sources. That's definitely good news.

The talks in Paris will make it clear whether we can avoid pushing the temperature up another 1 degree C. If not, the road from Paris will be much more difficult than anything we have had to deal with on the road to Paris. Let's hope that our leaders recognize this and act accordingly.

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.