NYSDEC Designates City of Ithaca as a Certified Climate Smart Community

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation designated the City of Ithaca as a Certified Climate Smart Community on Wednesday because of its efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resiliency.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Ithaca supports Governor Andrew Cuomo's goal to reduce statewide emission's by 40 percent by 2030. 

Kenneth Lynch, DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner, and Regional Director Matthew Marko congratulated Mayor Svante Myrick on the designation on the third floor of the Cayuga Street Parking Garage by a new state-funded electric vehicle charging station.

"This community has embraced the value of creating a dense, walkable city and Ithaca's example shows all New Yorkers the path to a more sustainable future," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in a press release.

The City of Ithaca is the DEC's 17th Certified Climate Smart Community. The other communities are Albany, Cortlandt, the Town of East Hampton, the Town of Ithaca; Madison County, Mamaroneck, Orange County, Rochester, Schenectady County, Southampton, Sullivan County, Tompkins County, Watervliet, Dobbs Ferry, the City of Kingston and Ulster County. 

The Climate Smart Communities represent New York's foremost leaders in local climate action, the press release stated.

According to officials, the reasons for the city's designation include its reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from government buildings, its efforts in creating a dense walkable and bicycle-friendly city, and an ongoing electric vehicle ecosystem project.

"We are proud of the accomplishments that have earned us this certification, and of our new electric vehicle infrastructure, which helped us earn NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities designation," Myrick said. "We look forward to future successes such as upgrading our streetlights to LED technology and improving the energy efficiency of new construction in Ithaca."

The City of Ithaca earned certification points in nearly all of the 10 Climate Smart Community Pledge Elements, illustrating a well-rounded, comprehensive climate action strategy that embraces both mitigation and adaptation. Ithaca has completed multiple greenhouse gas emissions inventories for both municipal operations and the broader community, and created an Energy Action Plan to guide progress toward reducing emissions.

Between 2001 and 2010, the City of Ithaca reduced greenhouse gas emissions from government buildings by 20 percent. Since 2012, the city of Ithaca has purchased enough Green-E Certified Renewable Energy Credits to offset 100 percent of its electricity use in municipal facilities. As a result of the energy credits and biogas from the local waste water treatment plant, about two thirds of the total energy used in city facilities comes from renewable energy.

DEC officials praised Ithaca for its comprehensive plan focusing on smart growth by supporting mixed use zoning, diverse housing choices, and cluster development, and by directing development to existing urban areas. The officials also recognized a Safe Routes to School program to enable and encourage students to walk and bike to school and initiatives to make the city bicycle-friendly by the completion of a bicycle boulevard plan, installation of bike parking, improvement of signage, and expansion of paths along the Cayuga Lake waterfront.

They also acknowledged the Green Building Policy Project, in which the city is studying energy standards for new construction and ways to incentivize or mandate those standards. In his 2018 State of the City address, Svante Myrick, Mayor of the City of Ithaca, noted that the completion and adoption of a Green Building Policy is part of the city's plan for 2018.

In October 2017, the city was designed a Clean Energy Community, recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy in its communities. Announced by Governor Cuomo in August 2016, the $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative supports local government leaders across the state to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development projects in their communities.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is funding Tompkins County's electric vehicle ecosystem, which includes the installation of 11 charging stations and working with local officials to promote electric vehicles. The electric vehicle charging station in Ithaca's Cayuga Street Parking Garage is one of the installations in this project.

"From creating a denser, more walkable city, to building infrastructure for pedestrians, bicyclists, and electric vehicles, to launching the brand new Green Building Policy, the City of Ithaca is positioning itself at the cutting edge of municipal efforts to address climate change," said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca

-- Ithaca Journal, 2/1/18