Slide18Sustainable Tompkins will be hosting a special presentation on “Building and Heating With the Climate in Mind” on Tuesday, March 17 from 1:00-3:00 pm at Hotel Ithaca (222 S. Cayuga St.).  This event is for anyone connected to the building sector in our area: developers, architects, engineers, builders, mortgage bankers, realtors, contractors, electricians, suppliers, designers, plumbers, elected officials, and planning boards.

NYS and Tompkins County are set to make progress on their climate action goals by enacting new energy systems and policies to promote efficiency, demand management, and renewable supplies.  The building sector is on a parallel course, with leading edge developers demonstrating impressive energy savings with better design and deployment of proven technologies.

Tompkins County recently affirmed its commitment to support economic development that helps us reach our goal of 80% emission reductions by 2050.  New research verifies that climate disruption from methane leakage is much greater than assumed, and policymakers and climate leaders are looking for ways to reduce dependency on natural gas for space heating and hot water.

Sustainable Tompkins has been working with a group of local energy experts to consider alternatives to methane, and under the leadership of Professor Brice Smith of SUNY Cortland, we have been sharing the results of his energy and economic modeling that compares methane with ground and air-sourced heat pumps for heating and hot water in single family, multifamily, and commercial buildings.  This work includes a look at the economic impacts of projected price increases over the next two decades for these energy systems as well as the climate impacts and other externalities that the wider community must bear if we were to expand our dependence on methane.

Dr. Smith leads the graduate program in Sustainable Energy Systems in the Physics Department at SUNY Cortland, and previously worked as a senior scientist at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.  Melissa Kemp, the program director for Solar Tompkins, and Gay Nicholson of Sustainable Tompkins will also contribute to the seminar.  Heat pump technology has greatly improved in recent years, can be powered by renewably-sourced electricity, and is a highly efficient way to either warm or cool our buildings.

As a group of concerned members of the community, our ultimate objective is a full cost accounting approach to making decisions on our energy choices to identify those most aligned with the overall public interest.  But we recognize that this approach needs to work for those in the building sector.  We have met with local developers to get their feedback and are expanding our portfolio of local case studies of heat pumps.

We hope you can join us on March 17 and bring your building sector colleagues.  We’ll be sure to leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.  This is a great chance to learn about this rapidly growing technology that supports both climate stability and energy security.  And we think you’ll be very interested to see the positive financial returns on the investment.