Signs of Sustainability 2009, Part II

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December 21, 2009 Tompkins Weekly
By Christina Orlandini and Marian Brown

This is the second in our series in which Sustainable Tompkins introduces you to the large number of “Signs of Sustainability” in the category of new sustainability programs or activities by existing businesses or organizations.

Energy Conservation

The Tompkins Energy Conservation Corps, a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension, conducts home energy audits and informs community leaders and residents about energy conservation. The Cornell Small Farms Energy Work Team hosted a series of farm renewable energy field days on farmsteads around the region providing information about energy conservation strategies and renewable energy technologies for small farm owners. Students in the Dryden High School Student Sustainability Club were trained, through the Green Energy Compass Home Performance program, to assist Dryden residents with energy audits. Tompkins Community Action Energy Services Department developed the Energy Savings-Saving Energy program to inform homeowners, landlords and tenants about home energy-efficiency strategies and financing programs.  Other associated programs include JobsBuild and the “Toasty in Tompkins” educational program.

The Town of Dryden Highway Department and the Dryden Renewable Energy Work Group (DREW) teamed up to conduct an energy audit of the highway department barns. The Town of Dryden Town Board allotted $30,000 to town residents as grants of up to $1,500 for energy efficiency upgrades.

Food Systems

Cornell Cooperative Extension offered Kitchen Garden Tours showcasing the efforts of residential gardeners. CCE also developed a new Google map of area gardens.  Felicia’s Atomic Lounge uses local produce for their food items and to create “locavore cocktails.” Felicia’s also added AlleyArt, an outdoor sustainable art gallery that welcomes submissions from artists using recycled materials.  This summer, the Ithaca Bakery sponsored a Local Foods Market, offering local vendors and farmers space in their parking lot to sell organic and fresh products. The Ithaca Farmer’s Market now offers a Winter Market at the Womens Community Building, and opened a Thursday evening market at DeWitt Park. New Roots Charter School instituted a Farmto School program, maintaining ties with local and organic farms, and teaching students about food preparation and storage.

A second Simply Red Bistro opened at La Tourelle Country Inn and Resort, using fair trade, local and organic foods in its breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch menus.  The Sustainable Chicken Project at Steep Hollow Farm collects and compost table scraps from city residents to augment the diet of chickens who produce eggs that are then shared back with the city residents. The Tompkins County Office for the Aging offered free coupons to individuals over age 60 to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at area farmers markets.

The Town of Dryden launched a Farmers Market on Wednesday evenings in conjunction with its Music in the Park Series. The Town of Ithaca’s newest community garden on West Hill next to the Linderman Creek apartments offers plots to town residents; summer youth employees helped maintain the garden. A new Farmer’s Market began in July in the Town of Lansing and by August, the market had more than 30 vendors offering a wide variety of fresh produce and baked goods.  Wegmans held an Organic Fair at the store, inviting in growers and distributors of organic food products. The Whole Community Project at Cornell Cooperative Extension works to improve the local food system and offer recreational activity opportunities in an effort to combat childhood obesity.

Green Building

The ER and ICU addition to the Cayuga Medical Center received LEED silver certification for incorporating key sustainable principles in its planning, design and construction. The Cornell University Solar Decathlon Team’s solar-powered house finished seventh in this year’s national contest. Participants in the WomenBuild training program worked on a Habitat for Humanity construction project in Lansing. This Habitat affiliate has adopted a “build green” policy, committed to building and rehabilitating “green” buildings. Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services completed two new attached townhouses on Corn Street that are registered as LEED Platinum green buildings and Energy Star-rated for efficiency. The plan for the Town of Caroline’s new office building include renewable energy systems, a geothermal heatingcooling system and 12.6 KW solar generating system.

Christina Orlandini is an Ithaca College writing intern and Marian Brown is a member of Sustainable Tompkins’ Board of Directors.

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