ST Events

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.

Neighborhood Mini-Grant Applications Due March 1

Do you have an idea for a project to make our community more sustainable, resilient, or inclusive? Need a little help in covering the costs? Sustainable Tompkins is accepting applications for our spring round of Neighborhood Mini-Grants. Applications are due March 1.


The Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant program provides support for initiatives promoting environmental sustainability, equity, and environmental, economic, and social justice in Tompkins County. 

Grants range from $150-$750 and have been awarded to diverse entities for locally-based initiatives sustainable food systems, alternative transportation, waste reduction/reuse, energy conservation/fossil fuel use reduction, and environmental education, and addressing social and economic inequality. Proposals are reviewed quarterly by a team of community members. The program is sponsored by the Park Foundation, Beck Equipment, Natural Investments, Fingerlakes Wealth Management, Craig Riecke, and local donors.

Individuals, organizations, and neighborhood groups are welcome to apply, as are local microbusinesses seeking to green their operations or extend their products or services to low-income clientele. 
Successful initiatives supported by Neighborhood Mini-Grants in recent years include founding of the Freeville Farmers Market, establishment of the Finger Lakes Toy Library as a lending collection of environmentally-friendly toys, distribution of the Paleontological Research Institution’s Teacher-Friendly™ Guide to Climate Change to all public high school science teachers in Tompkins County, and creation of an Ithaca Murals equipment lending library for artists and community members creating murals that reflect the demographics, values, and stories of Ithaca’s residents.

Applications are due on or before March 1, 2019. To request an application form, or if you have questions, please contact sasha@sustainabletompkins.org.


It’s Time to Seal the Cracks Again!

It is that time of year again – every fall and winter we ask you to help us Seal the Cracks in homes across the Finger Lakes Region, doing our part in fighting climate change while helping others in need.

Working together we are making a difference across our region. For every ton of your CO2 emissions that you offset, we will help a lower-income family make their home more energy efficient and take that ton of CO2 back out of the atmosphere. We’ve now given out 29 grants worth $47,738 to offset 2,286 tons of CO2 from our donors’ travel and building emissions.We recently passed the Five Million mark for pounds of CO2 removed from the atmosphere and look forward to awarding more of our Fund in local grants.

It is super easy: go to FingerLakesClimateFund.org and start thinking back over the past year… where did you travel and have you taken responsibility for the carbon emissions from your trips? How about your business or your home? (You can reach zero carbon by offsetting the remaining fossil fuel use in your buildings.) 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.