FLEC

Community Solar & Sustainable Tompkins

Exciting news! We now have an opportunity to help you be part of the climate solution while keeping Sustainable Tompkins innovating and leading.With the help of our partner, Bullrock Solar, we’ve designed a Community Solar program that can bring clean solar power to your home AND provide ST with the financial support to keep us on the front lines of building a sustainable future.

When you sign up, you will be able to use solar-generated electricity throughout your home, without changing utilities or installing roof-top panels, and get an electricity price that is 10% below NYSEG’s rate. The unique feature of this program: you can choose to have Bullrock Solar donate your 10% savings from going solar to support ST, or have them reduce your own electric bill by the same amount.

Either way, you can shrink your carbon footprint and protect our environment, without panels on your roof or costs of any kind. Whether you own your home or rent, you can still participate. Plus, the solar farm is nearby in Chemung County, south of Montour Falls, on former cropland.


Sign up and make a difference. Solar has never been so convenient. We hope you will support us with your tax-deductible donation of your solar savings, but if you need the savings yourself – that’s fine – we just hope you’ll be part of the transition to Local Clean Energy!

Learn more at Sustainable Tompkins Community Solar.

Youth Climate Challenge Awardees at Ithaca Global Strike for Climate

Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman inspire other students at the Ithaca Global Climate Strike on March 15 with their Keep It Cool Tompkins project funded by Sustainable Tompkins.

Abigail Glickman and Tilden Chao inspired a large crowd of local high school and college students at the Global Climate Strike on March 15 on the Ithaca Commons.

The students explained the importance of their ‘Keep It Cool: The Future of Refrigeration’ project funded by a Youth Climate Challenge grant of $990 to pursue their innovative and unique outreach and education program on containment and reduction of hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) refrigerants. You can learn more about their project at KeepItCoolTompkins.org.

We hope to see more students follow their lead by applying for a Youth Climate Challenge grant. The next deadline is April 1 and applications can be obtained by emailing Gay@SustainableTompkins.org. Students can propose a wide variety of activities. Some might result in measurable decreases in CO2 emissions from their schools, homes, libraries, churches, or other buildings. Other projects might use the arts and other persuasive communication to increase awareness about climate impacts and inspire energy conservation measures. Youth groups must be based in Tompkins County and can be of any size, but must have at least one adult advisor.

Cornell Climate Change Seminar Well Received

Opening slide of presentation on Local Carbon Offsets for Energy Democracy

Gay Nicholson shared the story of our Finger Lakes Climate Fund to a large audience of students and faculty at Cornell on February 18. The seminar series “Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge” mostly focuses on the issue from a global and national level, so our presentation on “Local Carbon Offsets for Energy Democracy” was very different for this audience.

Judging from the questions and follow-up surveys, students were glad to feel connected to ways to make a difference locally.

Read the rest of this entry »

Our ‘Keep It Cool Tompkins’ Team to Present Findings

Last spring we awarded our first Youth Climate Challenge Grant to Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman for their ‘Keep It Cool Tompkins‘ project to educate local businesses about the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase out high global warming potential refrigerants. This amazing duo is doing upperclass college level work, and our team of climate professionals and teachers are immensely impressed by their vision, intelligence, and initiative.

Tilden and Abigail will be presenting their findings thus far to the monthly Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative next Friday, December 14, at 9 am at the county library.  TCCPI hosts a monthly meeting for local energy professionals and nonprofit groups addressing climate change and the transition to clean energy.  They’ll be sharing their plans for a ‘green chill’ summit for regional businesses later this winter.

Local Teen Cooks for the Climate

Shea Nolan probably had one of the more sustainability focused childhoods in Ithaca. The father of this LACS graduating senior is the owner of Home Green Home on the Ithaca Commons, so Shea’s family was always checking out products for their performance and their ecological footprint. He now has the chance to share some of his homegrown expertise after winning the second grant award from Sustainable Tompkins’ Youth Climate Challenge program.

Shea’s project is to develop a curriculum packet to teach 4th and 5th graders how to use a solar oven to cook delicious meals while imparting the basic science behind their use. The $637 grant from Sustainable Tompkins will be used to purchase three solar cookers and print and laminate lesson plans. Local schools and nonprofit partners like Cayuga Nature Center will be able to sign up to use the ovens and curriculum materials.

Shea will get some help with the curriculum design from his mother Michele, the Principal of Alternative Education at TST BOCES and retired LACS biology teacher Dan Flerlage (a member of the Sustainable Tompkins grant team).  Shea will be testing out the new curriculum on Belle Sherman summer school students this year.  He’s not sure yet which of his favorite solar oven recipes they’ll make together, but roast chicken or cookies reportedly turn out great.

Earlier this year, Sustainable Tompkins announced a Youth Climate Challenge open to middle and high school students in Tompkins County who can apply for small grants up to $1,000 to support projects that reduce CO2 emissions or spread awareness of how climate change will affect the Finger Lakes Region. Read the rest of this entry »

Ithaca High Duo Receives First Youth Climate Challenge Grant

The first grant award in the Youth Climate Challenge from Sustainable Tompkins has been made to two Ithaca High School students, Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman.  The students submitted their Keep It Cool: The Future of Refrigeration proposal in April, and received a grant of $990 to pursue their innovative and unique outreach and education program on containment and reduction of hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) refrigerants.

HFCs replaced the ozone-destroying CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) refrigerants after the 1987 Montreal Protocol was ratified. This unprecedented global accord has secured the future of our protective ozone layer, but unfortunately the replacement HFCs have a greenhouse gas effect up to 23,000 times that of carbon dioxide. The students plan to develop a website and educational materials on alternative and safe refrigerants and host a summit for local businesses that depend upon refrigeration such as grocery stores, restaurants, and food distributors to learn about the alternatives. A new global accord, the Kigali Amendment, was adopted in 2016 to mandate the phase-out of HFCs starting in 2019. The students hope to help local businesses get a jump on both preventing leakage of HFCs and the transition to less harmful coolants.

“Our grants review team was mightily impressed with the quality of their proposal,” said Gay Nicholson of Sustainable Tompkins, “and we will be working actively with the students to help our business community lead the way in phasing out HFCs.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Grants Available to Youth Groups to Tackle Climate Change

 Sustainable Tompkins is announcing a Youth Climate Challenge open to middle and high school students in Tompkins County. The long journey back to climate stability will take several generations of sustained effort and innovation as we transition our economic and social systems to meet human needs without upsetting Earth’s life support system. We will need leaders of all ages on this journey. The Youth Climate Challenge will provide $5,000 for small grants up to $1,000 to support projects that reduce CO2 emissions or spread awareness of how climate change will affect the Finger Lakes Region. Funds can be used for equipment, supplies, or services such as printing. School classes and clubs, as well as local youth groups, are encouraged to take up the Challenge and see what kind of climate impact they can have by reducing dependency on fossil fuel, changing wasteful habits, or inspiring others to commit themselves to action on global warming. Read the rest of this entry »

Great News! PSC Approves our Alternative to the Dryden Pipeline!

After three long years of citizen action, we now have the official decision from the NYS Public Service Commission to approve our community’s proposal for an alternative to a new gas pipeline in Dryden to provide energy for new development in Lansing.  Thanks to all the good folks involved over the past 3 years in making the case for building and heating with the climate in mind! Special thanks to Irene Weiser of Fossil Free Tompkins for pursuing our goals all the way through the PSC case process.  We also want to thank Brice Smith and Melissa Kemp for their work with ST in the early days of this campaign to put together our presentation on ‘Building and Heating with the Climate in Mind’ that we gave many times over the winter of 2014-15.

NYSEG will now install four electric pressure boosters along the existing gas pipeline to Lansing to assure reliability on very cold days for heating the Lansing schools.  In the near future, NYSEG will release a call for proposals on ways to provide space heating and hot water for existing and new development in Lansing through more efficient design and equipment that does not use fracked gas, propane, or fuel oil.

“Our decision today is based, in part, upon New York’s goals along with the significant public input we received from the local community keen to protect the environment and reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Commission Chair John B. Rhodes. “With the environment in mind, this pilot project is intended to boost the gas distribution system’s ability to maintain reliable supply without the need to build a new gas pipeline.”

Read the PSC press release here.

Help ST Finish What We Started on Dryden Pipeline

Everyday you are probably getting 2 or 3 calls to action to help stop some new outrage. It’s important to help wherever you can, but it’s also important that our movement follow through on earlier efforts to make positive change and head toward greater stewardship and justice in our communities. We’re asking our supporters to take a minute today and help us complete a critical step in our community’s shared commitment to protect the climate and stop new fossil fuel infrastructure from being built in our county.

Three years ago, in the early summer of 2014, we began to hear about a proposed new gas pipeline to run through West Dryden to provide heating fuel for new development in Lansing. The large capacity of the pipe would mean that Tompkins County would be unable to meet its goal of 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

ST helped organize local opposition to the project and teamed up to present several workshops on viable alternatives to the pipeline to meet Lansing’s energy needs. A countywide task force on energy and economic development eventually came to the same conclusions and recommended to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that NYSEG address reliability concerns for existing Lansing gas customers by adding pressure boosters to the current pipeline. In addition, NYSEG would provide incentives to developers to build new structures in Lansing using smart design and ultra-efficient heat pumps to meet commercial and residential heating loads. (Many industrial processes can be powered with electricity rather than gas as well.) Read the rest of this entry »

Study on High Energy Cost Burdens in Tompkins County

We worked with a team of students through Engaged Cornell during the 2016-17 academic year to survey local residents about their energy bills and collect stories about how utility bills affected the household economy, especially for lower-income residents. You can read their report High Energy Cost Burdens in Low-to-Moderate Income Communities to learn more about how our housing affordability crisis is compounded by inefficient buildings and heating systems.

Thanks to Professor Howard Chong and students Kelly Strohm, Sara Hwong, and Elizabeth Barnett for leading the student team on this project.