By Peter Bardaglio, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Welcome to the April 2011 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, a monthly update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

TCCPI is a multisector collaboration seeking to leverage the climate action commitments made by Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Tompkins County, and the City of Ithaca to mobilize a countywide energy efficiency effort and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Launched in June 2008 and generously supported by the Park Foundation, TCCPI is a project of Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

We are committed to helping Tompkins County achieve a dynamic economy, healthy environment, and resilient community through a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

TOMPKINS COUNTY AND EVI AWARDED MAJOR EPA CLIMATE GRANT

EcoVillage at Ithaca on a sunny day!

Tompkins County, in a unique partnership with EcoVillage at Ithaca’s Center for Sustainability Education, has been awarded a $375,450 Climate Showcase Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund innovative approaches to creating dense neighborhoods that enhance residents quality of life while using fewer resources.

The project will focus on three different experiments in sustainable development, including construction of a third neighborhood at EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI), an internationally recognized cohousing community in Ithaca, and study of 26 acres of county-owned land as a potential location for a village-scale residential community that draws on the lessons of EVI.

The third project involves the Aurora Dwelling Circle, an urban infill development at the corner of North Aurora and Marshall streets in Ithaca. Builder Susan Cosentini and architect/planner Rob Morache run New Earth Living, the organization that will oversee the construction of the Aurora Dwelling Circle.

“I’m thrilled,” said EVI-CSE Executive Director Liz Walker. “This will give us the ability to translate proven concepts of sustainable community development to a mainstream audience. We hope to reach developers, architects, planners and builders.”

Ed Marx, Tompkins County Commissioner of Planning and Community Sustainability, seconded Walker’s comment. “By leveraging a local success story, we can show the way for new residential development to achieve remarkable energy savings as much as 80% lower than typical development. We hope to demonstrate how similar results can be achieved as these lessons are transferred to mainstream development.”

The county planning department and EVI are members of the TCCPI coalition. The original idea behind the grant proposal emerged at last June’s monthly TCCPI meeting.

Next TCCPI Meeting:
Friday, April 29, 2011
9 to 11 am
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
904 East Shore Drive
Ithaca, NY 14850

TCCPI AND ENERGY CORPS PRESENT AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Dominic Frongillo and Shawn Lindabury, community energy educators at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, joined TCCPI coordinator Peter Bardaglio in a panel discussion at the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference earlier this month. Sponsored by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), the annual conference was held at the University of Maryland – College Park.

Frongillo and Lindabury delivered a well received presentation on the Tompkins Energy Conservation Corps (TECC), which they have overseen since its launch in summer 2009. Bardaglio provided an overview of town-gown collaboration in Tompkins County around the issues of energy and climate. He also facilitated a lively discussion the next day on “Engaging Students in Climate Protection and Clean Energy Initiatives.”

One last thing: 
I had the opportunity to spend two days last week at the University of Scranton as the Earth Week keynote speaker. The day before I met with students, faculty, and staff and taught a class in an environmental ethics course. The campus seems to be making significant headway on integrating sustainability into the curriculum and carrying out energy efficiency upgrades in their buildings. The new student union, where I spoke, is LEED Silver certified and a new science center under construction is also designed to achieve LEED Silver certification.

Despite impressive progress on both fronts, there were few signs of collaboration between the university and city on sustainability issues. It was a timely reminder, as the spring semester winds down, of how fortunate we are to have such a vigorous coalition in Ithaca and Tompkins County, working together to meet the challenges of clean energy and climate protection.

For a full list of current TCCPI members, click here.

If you are interested in participating, please contact us and we’ll be happy to talk with you in more detail about our mission, goals, and activities!