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By Peter Bardaglio, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Welcome to the February – March 2012 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Community Coalition Launches Energy Savings Campaign

A coalition of over 70 local organizations officially kicked off the “Get Your GreenBack Tompkins” campaign at a public launch party on February 29 at the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY. The campaign aims to inspire all 42,000 households and every business in Tompkins County to take at least one new energy and money-saving step in their transportation, energy, waste, and food choices in the next year, saving money, creating jobs, and bringing the county closer to its goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

Get Your GreenBack Launch Party- Photo Credit: Vanessa Dunn

Since late October, with the help of 600 Cornell students and other community volunteers, the campaign has distributed 12,000 compact florescent light bulbs and information packets that outline ways to save money on energy across four sectors: energy efficiency, transportation, food, and waste. Also included was an application for a home energy assessment worth over $400.

According to Mike Koplinka-Loehr, co-coordinator of the “Get Your GreenBack Tompkins” campaign, the replacement of incandescent bulbs with the 12,000 CFLs would represent a savings of about $589,000 and a reduction in carbon emissions equal to taking 553 cars off the road.

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By Georges Dyer, Vice President of Programs, Second Nature
(This article appears in the March, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCAfter the initial excitement and enthusiasm of a commitment to sustainability starts to fade, organizations often find themselves facing a long, steady climb to integrate sustainability into all of their activities, so it is simply second nature.

Doing so requires engaging employees and other stakeholders so everyone is on the same page about what sustainability means, understands how everyday decisions contribute to achieving the end goals, and is empowered to work across departments and traditional boundaries to overcome barriers.

To really embed sustainability in the walls of an organization, leaders at all levels must work tirelessly to create and hold a clear vision; establish tangible goals; communicate objectives and progress; build capacity throughout the organization; establish metrics; and celebrate successes. (more…)

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Cornell University receives Second Nature’s 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Denver, CO on October 12th.

For over 150 years, Cornell University has earned a reputation for energy innovation in research and campus operations. That reputation carries on today. In 2007 Cornell President, David Skorton formed the Presidents Climate Commitment Implementation Committee (PCCIC) comprised of faculty, staff, and students. The PCCIC, with a matching grant from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), oversaw two years of planning that established a goal of climate neutrality by 2050. The participatory process included outreach, working groups, and an online idea exchange. The process culminated in endorsements by the Board of Trustees and all five campus assemblies. Aiming to reach beyond the campus community, the Climate Action Plan (CAP) Web Portal was created to openly share the entire planning process, triple-bottom line decision-making, and the portfolio of endorsed actions.

The momentum from the CAP led to the establishment of the President’s Sustainable Campus Committee (PSCC) that brought another level of senior administration support to sustainability initiatives.  Within the first 8 months of CAP implementation Cornell:

  • Dedicated a new 30MW Combined Heat & Power facility (50,000 metric tons annual reduction)
  • Committed to the elimination of on-site combustion of coal by July 2011 (20,000 metric tons annual reduction),
  • Allocated $6 million for 2010 and 2011 energy conservation projects (6,000 metric tons annual reduction)
  • Secured roughly $2 million dollars from NYSERDA toward these combined projects
  • Added four new permanent staff positions for continuous maintenance and re-commissioning of building energy systems.

Academically, the CAP process included the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF) and the Climate Neutrality Faculty Working Group. The Faculty Working group engaged faculty to integrate climate neutrality planning into 15 courses over two years. In support of the CAP, CCSF co-funded five research projects that examined behavior-related energy use, carbon capture technologies, forest sequestration, smart-grid technologies and the attitudes of 1500 county residents on CAP actions. In addition the Cornell University Renewable Bioenergy Initiative completed a feasibility study for a facility to demonstrate energy production from the integration of multiple technologies able to utilize diverse bioenergy feed stocks.

Highlights in campus education are the student-led Focus the Nation and New York State Powershift events, a faculty-led ‘climate controversies’ seminar series, and public lectures by Senator Timothy Wirth, Bill McDonough, and James Hansen. Student governments initiated a student-fee funded bike sharing program and a Lights-Off campaign. Additionally a comprehensive energy conservation behavior change project was initiated by academic staff.  An ongoing focus on outreach off-campus includes the creation of a youth energy conservation corps,  assisted in the formation of the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, a partnership with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop the website Climate Neutral Research Campuses,  and a new climate change web portal.

For Additional Information on Cornell’s Efforts Visit:

Sustainable Cornell: Making Climate Neutrality a Reality

IBEW Power Hour Special on Cornell’s climate commitment and green jobs

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