(Published in Tompkins Weekly, September 3-9, 2012, p. 4)
Beth Mazur cast an appreciative eye on the purposeful jumble of insulation equipment surrounding her country home in Enfield.  On a sunny and beautiful summer’s day, Beth was already contemplating winter’s cold winds – this time without concern for her family’s health and well being.  Thanks to a $2000 grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and the dedicated efforts of Phil Allmendinger and James Dulle of Snug Planet, the Mazurs can relax and enjoy their home in all four seasons.

Beth and her two daughters loved the green vistas and rural charm of their new place, but like so many of us they discovered that the house itself was poorly designed in terms of energy and moisture management.  Then, to make matters worse, the old furnace ended its life with a sooty fire in its basement chamber.  Beth knew it was time to get some expert help with managing their energy needs.

The folks at Snug Planet did a thorough energy analysis of the house, and proposed a work scope involving major insulation and air sealing, a high efficiency boiler and water heater, and ventilating fans to address mildew and rot problems.  The good news was that the Mazurs qualified for a $5,000 grant from NYSERDA for the work; but it was still going to be a big investment for a single mom to handle.  Beth wasn’t sure what to do, but Snug Planet had an idea.  

“We were so excited when we got Sustainable Tompkins’ email announcing the opportunity to apply for a grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund,” said Elizabeth Harrod, general manager for Snug Planet.  “We knew that the Mazur house would be perfect for their program.”

The Finger Lakes Climate Fund is a local carbon offset program run by Sustainable Tompkins.  Donors to the program are concerned about climate change and want to take responsibility for their unavoidable fossil carbon emissions.  They use the Fund’s carbon calculator to determine the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from their air and car travel or building electricity and heating, and then make a donation that will pay to offset an equal amount of carbon by improving energy efficiency in the homes of lower-income residents.  In the case of the Mazur home, Snug Planet estimated that the improvements they made would eliminate 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.  This qualified the Mazurs for the maximum grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund which prices carbon reduction at $20 per ton.

“There’s quite a bit of corruption and misuse of funds in the global carbon credit markets, but we do need a way to put a price on carbon that reflects its true costs to our society and our planet,” noted Gay Nicholson, President of Sustainable Tompkins.  “That’s why we created the Finger Lakes Climate Fund – we wanted our community to be able to take responsibility for their carbon footprint through an honest broker that would make sure the funds went to those who need it and that the carbon emissions really would be eliminated.”  The Fund also benefits the community by helping support green jobs in locally-owned energy firms like Snug Planet and by making recipients of grant awards more financially secure because of lower energy bills.

The crickets are still in full chorus outside, but as the days begin to shorten, one more local family joins the ranks of those secure in their homes as they anticipate winter’s chill.  Thanks to the generous and responsible donors to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, Tompkins County has moved just a bit closer to true energy security.

(Pictured: Above – Beth Mazur and her dog take a break during the work process. Right – Phil Allmendinger of Snug Planet fills the insulation chute in the Snug Planet truck while James Dulle sprays it into the Mazur attic.)