Climate Fund Grants Help Local Families

(view more articles in SOS Tompkins Weekly)

Tompkins Weekly – January 24, 2011 By Gay Nicholson Ph.D.

Our County has set a goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  We are doing this out of a sense of mutual responsibility to do right by future generations. But we are also doing this because we believe it protects the interests and well being of current generations. The impacts of high energy prices and the loss of good-paying jobs are being felt now. Reducing emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy investments saves money now and creates new high-quality jobs in the clean energy sector. Everybody wins.

Sustainable Tompkins is one of the community partners building the systems and infrastructure to help local residents participate fully in working toward our energy and climate goals. Our Finger Lakes Energy Challenge (formerly Marcellus Challenge) offers an online platform of resources to tap into and a pledge to help guide you forward on your personal journey to energy fitness. Our Finger Lakes Climate Fund provides you with a local carbon offset fund where you can make donations to cover the cost of “canceling out” emissions from your travel or home energy use. Sustainable Tompkins does this by awarding climate fund grants to modest-income homeowners in our county who otherwise could not afford to invest in energy improvements.

Photo: Clay Hapstak of Tompkins Community Action was glad to see his clients able to afford the full package of energy upgrades.

Our whole approach to responsible energy use can be summed up as “reduce what you can; offset the rest.” This lets you harvest the benefits of energy savings in your home while helping someone else reach their goals. Everybody wins.

The good news is that it isn’t that expensive to offset your unavoidable emissions.  For example, the offset for a roundtrip flight to the West Coast is about $20 (less than what the airline will charge you merely to carry your suitcase in one direction!). You can find out how easy it is to offset your emissions by visiting  Simply fill in your travel plans or home energy bills and our carbon calculator lets you know how much carbon dioxide you’ve emitted and how much it costs for us to offset those emissions.

Over the holidays, we were proud to issue our first climate fund grants to two local families in Tompkins County who would not have been able to go forward with necessary energy improvements without the support of the Finger Lakes Climate Fund. Thanks to our donors who took responsibility for their carbon emissions, the Ellis Family is enjoying the benefits of a less drafty house and the clean-burning heat of a new wood pellet stove.  Thanks to our donors, the Rosentel home in Lansing will get a major makeover of air sealing and insulation work along with a new furnace – resulting in heating bills that they can manage.

The Finger Lakes Climate Fund makes it easy to help others make their homes more energy efficient and economically stable. It also helps keep energy contractors working in our local economy. And for those embracing the notion of a shared responsibility for the future, our local climate fund makes it easy to “offset the rest” of their emissions as part of their personal plan for greater energy security. Everybody wins.

Check out today and see how easy it is to offset your recent travels and help the next local family gain protection from high energy bills.

Gay Nicholson

President, Sustainable Tompkins

If you liked this article, you may want to check out our complete archives of SOS Tompkins Weekly articles