Sustainable Tompkins is a citizen-based organization working towards the long-term well-being of our communities by integrating social equity, economic vitality, ecological stewardship, and shared responsibility.

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Next Presentation by our “Solutions Crew”
Thursday, January 22, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
City Hall, Common Council Chambers, 3rd Floor
Hosted by City of Ithaca Planning, Building, Zoning and Economic Development Department

We often hear the refrain that clean energy technologies hold much promise but are not sufficiently developed for near-term deployment in today’s market. This presentation will not only demonstrate that these technologies are currently technologically viable but also cost effective.

Over the past several months a group of about 40 community members have come together to question the need for a 7-mile natural gas pipeline through Dryden that has been proposed by NYSEG. Before committing our community to an increased dependency on methane by locking our region into an expanded fossil fuel infrastructure, decision- makers should become familiar with the full costs, risks, and benefits of methane as compared to alternative energy strategies.

Our group has undertaken energy and economic modeling to compare the costs of space heating and domestic hot water for residential and commercial buildings, fueled by either methane, ground-source heat pumps, or air-source heat pumps coupled with improvements to building envelopes and renewable sources of energy. Included in this work is also an exploration of both the economic impacts of projected price increases over the next two decades for these energy systems as well as the climate impacts and other externalities that the wider community must bear if we were to expand our dependence on methane. As a group of concerned members of the community, our ultimate objective is a full cost accounting approach to making decisions on our choice of energy resources to help identify those most aligned with the overall public interest.

The program will be specifically tailored to address the energy needs of an increasingly densified City of Ithaca. The costs and disruption to the City of expanded natural gas infrastructure has been readily apparent over the past 2 years. Improvements in building energy efficiency as well as the utilization of on-site renewable energy technologies may allow us to avoid such intrusive community impacts.

Join us for a presentation by Dr. Brice Smith, Graduate Program Coordinator in Sustainable Energy Systems, SUNY Cortland.  Melissa Kemp, Program Director of Solar Tompkins, and Gay Nicholson, President of Sustainable Tompkins, will also provide contributions to the program.

New Headquarters for Sustainable Tompkins at 309 N. Aurora St.

309 N AuroraAfter 5 wonderful years at 109 S. Albany, Sustainable Tompkins has relocated its headquarters to the lovely historic house at 309 N. Aurora.  Because of strong growth in the green energy sector, our landlord at Taitem Engineering needed their building back to house new employees.  A planned relocation to the new Finger Lakes Reuse Center was substantially delayed, and through the kindness of member Stu Staniford, we were able to temporarily set up our office at his building at 317 N. Aurora for the fall.

We could not be happier to have found a permanent downtown location in the red house between United Way and the William Henry Miller Inn.  Our office suite has its own entrance at the rear of the building, and we have enough room to once again share our office with the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative.

Our move was made possible by the devoted efforts of our dear friends Nick Vaczek, Bob and Tracy Duckett, and Hurf and Melissa Sheldon who brought their trucks and tools and willing hands to help us move our gear out of our two previous office locations.  In early January, Finger Lakes Reuse will bring the rest of our furniture out of storage and we’ll get settled in completely.  We’re looking forward to hosting our colleagues, volunteers, and members in the coming year!

Climate Fund Grant Comes Just in Time for Christmas

Dan and Kolleen Fenner

Santa came a little early in 2014 for young Kolleen Fenner and her family, thanks to donors to our Finger Lakes Climate Fund.

The Fenners’ 1920 bungalow home in Newfield suffered from lots of air leaks coming in from the crawlspace and garage door, making their 45-year old furnace labor to keep them warm.  Tompkins Community Action let Daniel Fenner know about the financial assistance they could get through NYSERDA’s programs, but the critical difference came with the Climate Fund grant of $2,247 from Sustainable Tompkins.

Their new high-efficiency propane furnace combined with steps to tighten up the house by sealing rim joists, insulating walls, wrapping pipes, and replacing the garage door will keep 112 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.  Donations from the Sustainable Newfield Fund and other community members provided funds for the Fenner award.

This is the eleventh grant from the Climate Fund bringing our total assistance to local households to $20,974.  Thanks to the savings from these energy improvements, the Fenner household budget will have a lot more room for holiday cheer!

Signs of Sustainability
Helping Renters Find Their Comfort Zone

Tompkins Weekly 1-19-15

By Margaret McCasland

Chilly drafts are one way of learning where Arctic air is sneaking into our homes. And bare spots on an otherwise snow-covered roof show us where heated air is escaping instead staying inside to keep us warm.

In January, it’s hard to imagine EVER feeling too warm, but we also face challenges keeping comfortably cool in summer, especially now that 90 degree days have become more common (prior to Global Climate Disruption, this area typically had less than 7 days per year in the 90s). Read more…

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Become a Master Composter

Tompkins Weekly 1-12-15

By Adam Michaelides

Though the balmy days of summer may seem like a distant dream, the Master Composters are preparing. This time each year, 15 to 20 Tompkins County residents are trained to be expert composters, and community educators. Over the course of the year, this group speaks with thousands of people about their composting practices at classes, festivals and the annual Compost Fair. These volunteers support the goals of our County to minimize waste and keep organics out of the trash. Read more…

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Stop Energy Leaks, Gain Comfort

Tompkins Weekly 1-5-15

By Sharon Anderson

Was the warmth of your holiday season dampened by cold drafts? If you felt a chill wind while hanging out at home with friends and family, take steps now to increase the comfort of your home and save on heating costs. Read more…

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Older Posts

Don’t Thank an Antifracktivist
Sweltering Heat and Drought
Mindfulness Practice and Sustainability

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How to Get Active on Climate? Even More Locally

By Miranda Phillips

With artic ice melting at great speed, and climate disruption happening a hundred years sooner than expected, climate change is promising to be the biggest challenge of the 21st century.  Not often talked about, at least in mainstream media, are the psychological and spiritual aspects of this challenge – among them, fear, guilt, and grief that make it difficult for us to act and act fast. Read more…

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Fracking: What Are We FOR?

 Fracking: We Know What We’re Against. What Are We FOR?
by Maura Stephens

As antifracktivists, we are often accused of being against fracking but not offering any alternatives to “natural” gas. That’s completely wrong. Our NO message is adamant and comprehensive, to be sure: Read more…

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Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers

by Derek Cabrera

What is the Crisis?

My colleagues and I surveyed the faculty of Cornell University to identify how scientists from different disciplines thought about the most pressing crises facing humanity[1]. Respondents brainstormed 116 diverse crises, sorted, and ranked them in terms of importance and solvability. We applied multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis to their answers to the simple question, “What is the crisis?” Read more…

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