On Nov. 8, the Ithaca 2030 District announced the addition of six new properties to its membership, expanding the number of properties seeking to improve their environmental sustainability.
The Ithaca 2030 District is “an interdisciplinary public-private collaboration working to create a groundbreaking high-performance building district in Downtown Ithaca,” according to its website. Initiated by the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI), the Ithaca 2030 District is part of a larger effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 80% by 2050.
Peter Bardaglio, executive director of the Ithaca 2030 District, said the Ithaca 2030 District serves a crucial purpose in the community by helping reduce costs associated with high emissions, money which can then be circulated throughout the economy.
“Energy costs, when they’re paid, go out of the community to the utility,” he said. “So, if you think about energy inefficiency as leaks in a bucket, when building owners take energy efficiency measures, they’re plugging up the holes in that bucket in terms of money leaving the community. And instead, that money stays in the community and is invested in the community.”
Bardaglio said there is much conversation around reducing the carbon footprint of downtown Ithaca, but the Ithaca 2030 District is the only collective effort to gather data on a subset of downtown buildings to determine how they’re performing on energy reduction goals. Focusing on the commercial buildings can make a large impact on overall emissions reductions, he said.
“We know that buildings make up a very high percentage of that carbon footprint, something in the 60 to 70% range,” Bardaglio said.
New buildings under Ithaca 2030 as of November include 104 E. State St. (Homegrown Skateshop being the primary tenant), Autumn Leaves Used Books and Petrune on the Commons, Finger Lakes ReUse Center, New Roots Charter School and the Paleontological Research Institute and its Museum of the Earth (PRI).
These new properties bring the committed square footage of buildings in the district to 292,776 square feet.
Joe Wetmore, owner of Autumn Leaves Used Books, is on the board of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and has known about the Ithaca 2030 District since its inception.
“Their basic idea is to try to set some ideas of how much energy’s being used and how to bring that down in various businesses, and I think that’s a good idea,” he said.
Warren Allmon, director of PRI, said he’s glad PRI is a part of the 2030 District because the district and PRI share a common goal.
“Not only do we want to do it as an institution for economic, functional reasons, but it’s part of our educational mission,” Allmon said. “Climate change and how energy is connected to climate change is a huge focus of what we do.”
Michael Mazza, director of community engagement for New Roots Charter School, said the school is excited to be a part of the district and the opportunity it presents for bringing the city’s Green New Deal to fruition.
“The legislation has been written, and that legislation is just about as valuable as the paper it’s written on,” he said. “The real value comes in the action that comes behind that, and so, we’re really excited as a school to be a part of that and to not only be walking the talk that we have here at school but be setting the example for the young people at our school.”
The Ithaca 2030 District, launched in 2016, is the first New York 2030 District in a network of 2030 Districts throughout the country.
2030 Districts are “unique private/public partnerships bringing together property owners and managers with community and professional stakeholders to meet the incremental energy, water and transportation emission reduction targets established by Architecture 2030 in its 2030 Challenge for Planning,” according to a recent press release.
Set energy, emissions and water reduction targets for all 2030 District buildings include a 20% reduction by 2020, 35% reduction by 2025 and 50% reduction by 2030, according to a recent press release. There is also an incremental target for energy consumption, with 80% reduction by 2020, 90% by 2025 and 100% by 2030.
PRI Associate Director for Operations Jaimi Shoemaker said that, if all buildings within Ithaca 2030 meet these targets, the collective reduction can make a big difference.
“Each one of us is doing things individually, but when you add that all up, that’s a huge impact to make in such a little area,” she said.
To help them reach those targets, the Ithaca 2030 District provides owners with a building performance report every year that lays out the targets for their building and their progress toward those targets, Bardaglio said. Several businesses expressed appreciation for these reports.
Mazza said the reports help New Roots, which doesn’t own its building, to meet sustainability goals within its capabilities.
“We have a lot of sustainability practices in what we do every day in the school,” Mazza said. “I see this as an opportunity for us to bring that together where it is well within reach.”
Outside of the Ithaca 2030 targets, several of the new properties have already undergone energy reduction measures.
“I’m looking for ways to cut back on energy usage because that’s important society-wide, not just on my bottom line,” Wetmore said.
New Roots, PRI, Homegrown Skateshop and Autumn Leaves reported switching all lights in their buildings to LEDs, which use significantly less energy than incandescents.
“We don’t always look at how much impact a single lightbulb can have,” Mazza said. “You take a single lightbulb and multiply that by 100 lightbulbs, and all of the sudden, you’ve got a pretty big impact.”
Allmon said the Museum of the Earth has solar panels that provide a significant portion of its energy. In addition, the museum encourages visitors to use public transportation to further reduce emissions.
The new properties join charter members Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, HOLT Architects, Press Bay Alley, Ithaca Bakery, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and others.
The planning and establishment of the Ithaca 2030 District was supported by a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Cleaner, Greener Communities program, and a Park Foundation grant has supported the district’s operation. The original NYSERDA grant ended this November.
Current membership in the district totals 21 buildings, and Bardiglio said the district plans to increase its membership to 30 by June.