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Tompkins Weekly 9-22-14

By Guillermo Metz

Between the time that I write this column and when it hits newstands, the largest climate rally in history will have taken place in New York City. If all goes as planned, at least three busloads of local activists will have lent their voices to the rallying cry to curb carbon emissions by reducing energy demands and transitioning to clean energy sources.

Hopefully, world leaders gathered there to discuss what they should discuss at the next global climate summit (Paris, Spring 2015) will have noticed the hundreds of thousands of people and been moved to finally take serious action on climate change. And, for those in the streets, many of you will have made connections that will take you in new directions or strengthen your resolve to act on one or more levels.

But closer to home, in just a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to gather inspiration for significant steps you can take to cut your own carbon emissions. See what others in your community have done to reduce their home’s carbon footprint during the 2014 Ithaca-Area Green Buildings Open House, Saturday and Sunday, October 4th and 5th.

Extensive use of local and reclaimed materials, renewable energy sources, high-efficiency heating and other appliances, super-insulated construction, passive solar design – it’s all on view during this year’s tour, along with other greenbuilding features such as natural and non-toxic finishes. Now in its 13th year, the tour will feature 18 homes throughout Tompkins County. For a complete listing of sites, as well as a map with all their locations, go to and click on the link for the 2014 tour.

There, you can also find information about an added feature of this year’s event: a Green Doghouse Challenge! That’s right, groups of builders will be putting their greenbuilding know-how to work on tiny homes fit for canine kings. And they will be raffled off at the kick-off to the weekend, Friday, October 3, from 7–9pm at the Tompkins County SPCA, with proceeds benefitting the SPCA and CCE Tompkins. If you’re feeling creative, it’s not too late to enter – click on the Green Doghouse Challenge link at the event web site. And if you’re in the market for an environmentally friendly doghouse, you’re going to want to come early to the opening reception to view the creations and put in your bid!

Tompkins County’s very own SPCA was the first animal shelter in the nation to receive LEED Silver certification. At the opening reception, you can tour the facility, hear from passionate leaders in our community, see a slideshow of homes that will be featured over the weekend, and enjoy delicious local food and beverages. Admission to the reception is by a suggested donation of $20, which includes a wristband for the Open House.

If you plan on touring actual homes over the weekend but can’t make it to the reception, please make sure to purchase your wristband. We’re still charging just $5 for the whole weekend. That’s right, you can see as many homes as you’d like for just $5. You can buy your wristband through our Peaks campaign (there’s a link for it on the event page; there is a small additional charge if you would like wristbands mailed to you), here at CCE Tompkins, or check our website closer to the event date for other locations, including some where you can purchase your wristband during the event. Your contributions help make the tour happen – please consider giving to the Peaks campaign ( (but don’t worry if you don’t have a wristband; no one will be turned away).

Also new this year, for the first time, we are partnering with Boxy Bikes, Ithaca’s electric bike company. Make your tour of the houses truly green by using pedal power with electric assist to help get you up some of the Ithaca area’s infamous hills. Each bike has about a 20-mile range per charge, and some bikes can even take a passenger. Bikes must be reserved and paid for through the Boxy Bikes website: http: They’re just $30 for a 24-hour bike rental. Contact for more information.

Maps showing locations of all the homes on the tour are at our web site, or pick up a brochure – we’ll be getting them out to retailers and public spaces throughout the county the last two weeks of September, or pick up your copy here at CCE Tompkins. Please help spread the word about this year’s tour. Let’s inspire, educate, and entertain the whole community to take action on climate change by making their homes healthier for their families, their communities and the planet. Visit our web site for complete details, and don’t forget to go to our Peaks page. You can even help spread the word through Facebook (search for Ithaca-Area Green Buildings Open House).

Guillermo Metz is the Green Building & Renewable Energy Program Coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. He can be reached at 607-272-2292 or


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