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.

More About Sustainable Tompkins

News & Events

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Climate Change Education in Tompkins County Schools
Elizabeth Altier, Dryden High School Class of 2015 and PRI intern, presents Travis Crocker with the guide. Photo provided.

Effective local action to address climate change requires a populace to understand  the complex science and social dimensions of this global threat. To this end, the Ithaca-based Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) created The Teacher-Friendly Guide™ to Climate Change and is engaged in an ongoing effort to distribute it to all high school science teachers in the United States, countering the Heartland Institute’s 2017 nationwide distribution of classroom materials rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change. In December 2017, the PRI received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to print guides for all high school science teachers in Tompkins County.

Dryden High School teacher Travis Crocker, who teaches Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Astronomy, relayed the importance of teaching climate science in an interview with PRI Senior Education Associate Alexandra Moore.

Read more…
Sign Up With Us For Community Solar: It’s a True Win-Win!

Exciting news! We now have an opportunity to help you be part of the climate solution while keeping Sustainable Tompkins innovating and leading.

With the help of our partner, Bullrock Solar, we’ve designed a Community Solar program that can bring clean solar power to your home AND provide ST with the financial support to keep us on the front lines of building a sustainable future.

When you sign up, you will be able to use solar-generated electricity throughout your home, without changing utilities or installing roof-top panels, and get an electricity price that is 10% below NYSEG’s rate. The unique feature of this program: you can choose to have Bullrock Solar donate your 10% savings from going solar to support ST, or have them reduce your own electric bill by the same amount.

Either way, you can shrink your carbon footprint and protect our environment, without panels on your roof or costs of any kind. Whether you own your home or rent, you can still participate. Plus, the solar farm is nearby in Chemung County.

Sign up and make a difference. Solar has never been so convenient. We hope you will support us with your tax-deductible donation of your solar savings, but if you need the savings yourself – that’s fine – we just hope you’ll be part of the transition to Local Clean Energy!

Learn more at Sustainable Tompkins Community Solar.

Our First Zero Carbon Offset Grant!
Adrienne Cook and her cat Nina.

Adrienne Cook is well on her way to a zero carbon home. She owns a rare 1950 Sears Roebuck “kit house” in the Town of Ithaca. Despite the small size of the 2-bedroom house, the fuel oil boiler was costing close to $3000/yr to heat the home. 

Snug Planet set her up with highly efficient air source heat pumps to both heat and cool the home, and provide hot water. ETM Solar will come in the spring to put 7.2 kw of solar panels on her roof to power the home. We gave our 28th Climate Fund grant of $2,213 for her offset of 89 tons of CO2 from these projects.

Let’s make sure everyone gets a chance to participate in the clean energy transition!  Visit to day and offset your carbon emissions and help more folks like Adrienne shrink their carbon footprint.

Watch Adrienne tell her story here.

Signs of Sustainability
Nuclear Arms and Climate Disruption: Two Inconvenient Truths

Tompkins Weekly 2-13-19

By Dr. Charles Geisler

At a time when major nuclear arms treaties are being orphaned and thick reports on climate disruption are accumulating like waves on a stormy beach, many are asking if there are connections between the two. The answer is an obvious and uncomfortable yes.

Consider ‘nuclear winter,’ the name given to the prolonged darkness believed by Carl Sagan and other senior scientists to arrive on the heels of nuclear war. Some or all of the planet will be darkened by the ash plumes of nuclear incineration. Photosynthesis will wane along with parts of the food chain, habitats we take for granted, and healthy ecosystem services we depend on. Our largest nuclear reactor, the sun, will be eclipsed by the effects of thermonuclear war on earth.

Read more…
An Easily Digestible Climate Crisis Solution

Tompkins Weekly 1-30-18

By Amie Hamlin

Recently, the term “climate crisis” has started to replace the term “climate change.” Some worry that this newer terminology will scare people. That is exactly the point – to communicate the seriousness of what is happening to our planet, which is dire. There is not a lot of time to reverse the problem before we experience cataclysmic environmental events. Yet oftentimes when we talk about what to do to stop the melting glaciers, ensure our coastline cities don’t end up under water and secure our children’s future, one of the top solutions is left out of the discussion. The solution is one that we don’t have to sit by idly and worry about, it’s one we can actively make happen every day, and it won’t cost us a penny – in fact, it may save us money. It is more powerful than everything else we can do, combined.

Perhaps it is an “inconvenient truth,” but the solution is staring up at us from our plates. Animal agriculture is one of the top contributors to greenhouse gas production and the climate crisis. It’s not just beef, it’s all animals raised for food, including those raised organically, “sustainably,” or free-range.

Read more…
Fiber Artists Inspired by Cayuga Lake Watershed

Tompkins Weekly 1-16-19

By Patricia Haines Gooding

For generations, quilts have embodied creativity, heritage, and community. Over the last decade, watershed groups across the country have begun turning to the art of quilting to spark public awareness of the increasingly critical importance of protecting our precious water resources.

For a few examples:
• In 2006 in Aux Sable, Illinois children designed a large quilt expressing their pride in their local environment. 
• A 50-foot quilt of the Farmington River, created by local and national artists, hangs in the Connecticut State Capitol. 
• Encouraged by the Lynnhaven Watershed organization, in 2014 Virginia Beach first graders created a 48 square painted quilt as part of their sustainability studies. Now in fifth grade, they promote watershed stewardship for current first graders. 
• Trout Unlimited, which has Trout in the Classroom programs across the country — including all around our lake, thanks to the Floating Classroom — invites k-12 students to send 8-inch by 8-inch squares, along with a letter describing their watershed, to all participating schools, which then put them together in their own unique designs.

Read more…

ST Blog

Older Posts

How to Get Active on Climate? Even More Locally
Fracking: What Are We FOR?
Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers

Follow our RSS feed

Help ST Finish What We Started on Dryden Pipeline

Everyday you are probably getting 2 or 3 calls to action to help stop some new outrage. It’s important to help wherever you can, but it’s also important that our movement follow through on earlier efforts to make positive change and head toward greater stewardship and justice in our communities. We’re asking our supporters to take a minute today and help us complete a critical step in our community’s shared commitment to protect the climate and stop new fossil fuel infrastructure from being built in our county.

Three years ago, in the early summer of 2014, we began to hear about a proposed new gas pipeline to run through West Dryden to provide heating fuel for new development in Lansing. The large capacity of the pipe would mean that Tompkins County would be unable to meet its goal of 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

ST helped organize local opposition to the project and teamed up to present several workshops on viable alternatives to the pipeline to meet Lansing’s energy needs. A countywide task force on energy and economic development eventually came to the same conclusions and recommended to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that NYSEG address reliability concerns for existing Lansing gas customers by adding pressure boosters to the current pipeline. In addition, NYSEG would provide incentives to developers to build new structures in Lansing using smart design and ultra-efficient heat pumps to meet commercial and residential heating loads. (Many industrial processes can be powered with electricity rather than gas as well.) Read more…

Energy and Equity Go Hand in Hand


Extreme income inequality, persistent racism, and increasing climate disruption are undeniable plagues of our time. We are fortunate that many people in Tompkins County are working on these issues. Some are advocates for racial and economic justice, such as creating living-wage jobs, removing barriers to reentry from the prison system, and ensuring affordable housing for all. Many others are involved in initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, such as, stopping gas infrastructure development, switching from fossil fuels to renewable sources, and conserving energy in housing, transportation, food, water, and waste. Read more…

Home Rule and the Greater Good

After hours of discussion at the June 16th county legislative meeting, the vote on the fate of the Old Library ended in a stalemate of 6 in favor of a large apartment complex for seniors (TravisHyde), and 6 in favor of a smaller adaptive reuse condo project (Franklin Properties) which had hundreds of petition supporters and inspired dozens of citizens to show up and speak in favor of the Franklin proposal. Read more…