ST Events

Our Climate Programs Featured in Ithaca Times

“Sustainable Tompkins is moving the needle.”

With the passage of the Ithaca Green New Deal, people are realizing how much work lies ahead to reach its goal of carbon neutrality for the City of Ithaca by 2030.

Sustainable Tompkins’ work on energy and climate was featured in Ithaca Times in the June 20, 2019 issue “Real Climate Action: Sustainable Tompkins and others are working locally now.”

We salute everyone in our local movement for their combined efforts to reduce emissions and become more climate resilient. And we thank our carbon offsetters who make the Climate Fund possible!

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Brings Electric Scooter to Wonderful Wheelchairs

The scooter displayed at the Finger Lakes Independence Center. Photo by Sasha Paris.

Mobility aids such as wheelchairs and scooters give many people vital access to their communities, but new ones have high prices in money and natural resources. Wonderful Wheelchairs, an Ithaca-based organization, repairs, loans out, and sells donated mobility aids at low prices, improving equity of access to them and keeping used ones out of the waste stream. It allows its patrons to try out devices, determining what best suits their needs. In March 2018, Wonderful Wheelchairs received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to buy a motorized Pride Folding Go-Go Scooter – an item in high demand and not locally sold – for patrons to try out before deciding whether to buy one from a faraway vendor.

The scooter has been in use since May 2018, displayed and loaned out onsite at Wonderful Wheelchairs and at local social service venues and events such as the annual Senior Living Expo and the first annual Community Carnival at Stewart Park. Wonderful Wheelchairs will continue to spread the word about it, at these venues and beyond.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Craig Riecke, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, and local donors. We need your support so we can help more citizen leaders act on their values. Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.

The Future of Refrigeration is Green

Congratulations to Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman of Keep it Cool Tompkins! for their well attended summit on green refrigeration on May 23. Our Youth Climate Challenge awardees surpassed all expectations with their educational campaign. We are all in their debt for bringing greater awareness to this key part of the climate puzzle.

Their panel of speakers did a great job covering from the basics to the alarming predictions if we don’t get it together to cool our food and our buildings and our cars without exacerbating climate change and ozone depletion. A video of the presentations will be available shortly.

Ted Gartland [E. Gartland & Associates, LLC, HillPhoenix, GreenChill], Professor Jeff Tester [Cornell University Engineering], and Terry Carroll [Cornell Cooperative Extension] presented to an audience of about 40 climate activists, municipal reps, and businesses.

Finger Lakes Climate Fund Donors Give Generously and Fundraise Further

Wes Ernsberger and Gerri Wiley

We welcome a great testimonial from a very generous Finger Lakes Climate Fund donor, Gerri Wiley:

“In addition to contributing to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund to offset our personal annual carbon use, my life partner, Wes Ernsberger, and I have encouraged members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton (UUCB) to follow suit. Last Spring, UUCB held a special collection for FLCF. It was an easy ask because hey… who wouldn’t want to know their carbon offsets are being used help local families to reduce and decarbonize their energy use?

“We like to think of ourselves as climate stabilizers, so ideas keep popping into our heads in this regard. This year I became an official old lady and thus was required to take a Required Minimum Distribution from my Traditional IRA. FLCF was the #1 good cause on my list and so this ‘requirement,’ unlike many other requirements, was not painful at all!”

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 »

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Supports Climate Change Education in Tompkins County Schools

Elizabeth Altier, Dryden High School Class of 2015 and PRI intern, presents Travis Crocker with the guide. Photo provided.

Effective local action to address climate change requires a populace to understand  the complex science and social dimensions of this global threat. To this end, the Ithaca-based Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) created The Teacher-Friendly Guide™ to Climate Change and is engaged in an ongoing effort to distribute it to all high school science teachers in the United States, countering the Heartland Institute’s 2017 nationwide distribution of classroom materials rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change. In December 2017, the PRI received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to print guides for all high school science teachers in Tompkins County.

Dryden High School teacher Travis Crocker, who teaches Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Astronomy, relayed the importance of teaching climate science in an interview with PRI Senior Education Associate Alexandra Moore.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sign Up With Us For Community Solar: It’s a True Win-Win!

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.


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.

Our First Zero Carbon Offset Grant!

Adrienne Cook and her cat Nina.

Adrienne Cook is well on her way to a zero carbon home. She owns a rare 1950 Sears Roebuck “kit house” in the Town of Ithaca. Despite the small size of the 2-bedroom house, the fuel oil boiler was costing close to $3000/yr to heat the home. 

Snug Planet set her up with highly efficient air source heat pumps to both heat and cool the home, and provide hot water. ETM Solar will come in the spring to put 7.2 kw of solar panels on her roof to power the home. We gave our 28th Climate Fund grant of $2,213 for her offset of 89 tons of CO2 from these projects.

Let’s make sure everyone gets a chance to participate in the clean energy transition!  Visit FingerLakesClimateFund.org to day and offset your carbon emissions and help more folks like Adrienne shrink their carbon footprint.

Watch Adrienne tell her story here.