In partnership with the Tompkins County Planning Department, EVI-CSE will take the lead on a three year EPA grant to document and disseminate the lessons learned from its twenty years of experience in building an internationally recognized sustainable community – one in which residents report an exceptionally high quality of life while using 40% less energy and natural resources than typical Americans. The grant will allow EVI-CSE to help write new zoning ordinances and building codes which encourage a comprehensive approach to creating energy-conserving residential communities.In addition, it will apply these lessons learned to three pilot projects at the hamlet, village and urban scale, monitor and measure GHG reductions at these projects, and educate a broad audience about these models.
EcoVillage at Ithaca’s planned third cohousing neighborhood will utilize the principles of one of the world’s most stringent energy conserving green building standards. Passive House buildings are so energy efficient that a whole house can be heated with the equivalent of a hair dryer. TREE, the third neighborhood, plans 30 such homes, some as apartments, and some as houses. Currently there are only 13 certified Passive Houses in the entire U.S.
The first cohousing neighborhood in EVI installed a 6KW photovoltaic array on its community center in 2010. The system is expected to produce 50% of the electricity needed by the Common House, which is at the heart of this cohousing community, and is used frequently for meals, classes, laundry, offices, kids’ play space, a Re-Use center, and more. Plans are also underway for a 220 panel ground-mounted PV array which will supply electricity for the entire 30 household neighborhood, and will be master-metered through four energy centers. Resident investors will be paid back over twenty years at 4% interest, while household bills remain at typical utility rates.
HOLT Architects, PC
Ithaca Carshare has worked in collaboration with the Greater Ithaca Activities Center and the Way2Go Transportation Education program at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County on a project to bring more affordable and sustainable transportation options to low-income and under-served populations in Ithaca. Grant money from Federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) funds and also from the Park Foundation has made this project possible. The project has resulted in the creation of Ithaca Carshare's new Easy Access membership plan, which subsidizes regular membership costs by more than half and reduces financial barriers to getting started. We have 15 members currently on this plan, several of whom have avoided purchasing or driving old and ill-maintained vehicles that typically produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution. Additionally we have been able to add two new vehicle locations in the Southside and also near West Village on West Hill to increase convenient access to the service by those with lower incomes.
We reached a significant milestone of 1,000 members, demonstrating that the carsharing model really works in a small urban area like Ithaca, and not just in large metropolises. Members report that the service has helped them sell or avoid the purchase of 450 total vehicles over the past 2.5 years.
Ithaca City School DistrictIthaca Carshare helped found the new CarSharing Association, with member organizations in North and South America and Australia representing almost 100,000 members sharing over 3000 vehicles. The 18 member organizations have agreed to operate under a strict code of ethics that prioritizes environmental and social impacts instead of a primary focus on profits
The Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth
Tompkins Community Action
The Tompkins County Legislature has adopted a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the community by at least 80% from 2008 levels by 2050. The first step along that path is to achieve a 20% reduction by 2020. The strategy for how this goal can be achieved was endorsed by the Legislature in September, 2010 and serves as a guide for energy and emissions work being done in the community.
County Planning worked collaboratively with various for-profit and non-profit partners to submit a grant to the EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities for funding of $375,450 to utilize the principles and lessons learned from a local example of sustainable community development, EcoVillage at Ithaca, which has achieved national and international recognition. Residents report an exceptionally high quality of life, while using 40% less resources than typical Americans. Tompkins County plans to create models for new zoning and building codes, support the creation of three pilot projects (hamlet, village, and urban), monitor and measure GHG reductions in these projects, and promote widespread dissemination of these replicable models through multiple educational strategies.
In 2010, the County completed and published two 10-year reports assessing emissions resulting from the County government and the Tompkins County community. The County government report evaluated progress made toward a 20 percent reduction goal in government emissions that was set for 2008. Though the County did not achieve its goal of overall emissions reductions, findings showed that facility efficiency improvements directly resulted in building emissions reductions. The government emissions report clarified the need for focused attention on the County’s vehicle fleet for emissions reductions and also brought to light the importance of accurate and thorough emissions tracking throughout the government.
The Tompkins County community saw an increase in emissions over the ten-year period, as expected. Data from the community emissions inventory report will serve to establish a community emissions baseline of the 2020 Energy Strategy, also published in 2010.
The Legislature adopted a Green Fleet policy in 2009 to assure that the carbon footprint of the county’s vehicle fleet continues to be reduced in accordance with the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions goals established by the Legislature. As a result of County and Department of Energy grant funding three hybrid-electric vehicles were added to the fleet in 2010 to be shared among Courthouse Complex departments.
In partnership with local low-income energy services providers, Tompkins County produced a report detailing recommendations for improving energy-related programs serving low-income people in Tompkins County. It is anticipated that several of the key recommendations will be implemented in 2011.
Working with local, state and national energy financing experts, Tompkins County advocated for state and national legislation to allow municipalities to develop programs to create financing incentives for property owners wishing to make energy upgrades to their buildings.
In partnership with local energy partners, Tompkins County planning staff has been actively working on creating motivating strategies and messaging around the topic of energy efficiency in the community.
The Department produced a map atlas showing geographic features that could impact wind farm siting in Tompkins County.
The Commissioner spoke at the February New York State Association of Counties Annual Legislative Conference in Albany on a panel regarding Marcellus Shale issues. Other panel members represented the NYSDEC, industry and academic research. The Planning Department continued to support efforts by the Legislature to advocate for a ban on drilling until it can be shown that adequate safeguards are in place to protect important resources and mitigate impacts on communities.
The Department submitted a successful grant application to the Park Foundation for funding to support a Planner dedicated to working with the TCCOG Task Force on Natural Gas Drilling and assisting local municipalities with preparing for potential impacts of this activity.