The Town of Ithaca has a fundamental commitment to protect and enhance economic, community, and environmental resources. Currently, the Town is focusing primarily on environmental sustainability, working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within Town operations and community-wide.       

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Nick Goldsmith, Sustainability Planner                                                  
607-273-1721 x136

Sustainability News

Updated June 14, 2017

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In December 2015 in Paris, world leaders signed the first global commitment to fight climate change. In response to the Trump Administration's recent decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, leaders across the country are taking swift action. The City of Ithaca is among 246 U.S. Mayors, representing 56 million Americans, in joining Climate Mayors, and joins an unprecedented coalition of governors, mayors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors in the We Are Still In initiative. Cornell University and the Park Foundation signed on to similar letters, and the Tompkins County Legislature will consider signing on at its monthly meeting.

Together we will work to carry out the U.S. commitment as part of the global effort to hold global warming to well below 2°C and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit security, prosperity, and health for all of us. #WeAreStillIn

Local Study Shows Heat Pumps are Cost-Effective
A new local building energy system study for townhouses and custom/luxury homes found that the energy cost of heat pumps is slightly lower than natural gas and significantly lower than propane. Read the full report here.

Cornell and NYS Announce Major Climate and Jobs Initiative
A new partnership between Cornell University and Climate Jobs NY has led to the Clean Climate Careers initiative, which aims to create 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020.

Green Building Policy Project Update
This week, the Green Building Policy Project hosts staff from Burlington, VT, Evanston, IL, and Fort Collins, CO in Ithaca for two days for a peer-to-peer exchange on green building policies. We'll share takeaways from this event. Sign up here for project updates.

Town of Ithaca Adopts Energy Benchmarking Policy
At its May 22 meeting, the Town of Ithaca adopted a benchmarking policy to track energy use in Town facilities over 1,000 square feet and share that information with the public on an annual basis. This information will identify opportunities to cut costs and reduce pollution.

City of Ithaca Awarded Funding for Hector Street Enhancements
The City of Ithaca will receive $1,400,000 in federal funding assistance to enhance pedestrian, bicycling, and bus conditions and to improve safety along Hector Street (Rt. 79) between Floral Avenue and 500 feet past the City line towards Linderman Creek Apartments. Learn more here.

Our Sustainability Goals

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals for Town of Ithaca government operations (e.g. facilities, vehicle fleet, and water treatment):

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals for Town of Ithaca community (e.g. homes, businesses, and transportation community-wide):
  • The Town Board has endorsed sustainability and climate protection as overarching principles to guide long-term decision-making (2014 Comprehensive Plan, page 22), however the Town has not yet adopted a specific goal for reducing community GHG emissions.
  • Current sustainability efforts are aiming to meet or exceed the ambitions of the Paris Agreement signed by nearly 200 countries, which would require a reduction in GHG emissions of 80% by 2050.

The Town of Ithaca, under the direction of Supervisor Bill Goodman and the Town Board, will carry out a sustainability planning process. 

To learn more, click here.

What is Sustainability?

Click here to learn more.

Accomplishments to Date

In the past four years, the Town Board has taken significant action, highlighting the Town’s commitment to sustainability and climate protection:

  • Adopted resolution to participate in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation “Climate Smart Communities Initiative,” committing the Town to the reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to climate change (April 2009)
  • Hired a Sustainability Planner in 2010 to carry out sustainability planning, goal development, and implementation (September 2010)
  • Became a member of ICLEI -- Local Governments for Sustainability -- joining more than 600 local governments throughout the nation who are leading the effort to envision, accelerate and achieve strong sustainability and climate protection goals (October 2010) 
       Learn more about our accomplishments here.

Town Sustainability Documents

Government Energy Action Plan 2011 (Fall 2011)

Baseline 2010: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report - Community (Summer 2011)

Baseline 2009: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report - Government (Spring 2011)

A Sustainability Framework (March 2011)

Press Coverage and Awards

        Press Coverage:

Signs of Sustainability 2016 - A Look Back, A Glimpse Forward - December 19, 2016

City, Town receive grant for green building policies - July 17, 2016

City and Town of Ithaca to Study Green Building Policies - July 6, 2016

Announcing $1.4 million in support of cities and sustainability through Partners for Places - May 6, 2016

Sustainability Center Moves into New Home - May 16, 2016

Energy Scores Aimed at Homebuyers - March 14, 2016

Tompkins County and City of Ithaca Launch Energize NY Finance Program - January 7, 2016   

Better Building Practices Spotlighted - September 7, 2015

Home Energy Ratings Planned - June 8, 2015

Municipalities Launch Residential Energy Score Project - May 27, 2015

Ithaca Town Hall Begins Composting Program - January 30, 2015


EPA Green Power Partnership 2015 - Green Power Leadership Club

Signs of Sustainability 2015 - Sustainability Leadership by an Organization

Signs of Sustainability 2015 - Sustainability Leadership by an Individual

Signs of Sustainability 2013 - Local Agricultural Products Web List

Signs of Sustainability 2013 - Resilient Communities for America

Signs of Sustainability 2012 - Stream Setback Law

Signs of Sustainability 2012 - Most Secure Place to Live Award

Signs of Sustainability 2012 - Sustainability-Focused Comprehensive Plan

Our Neighbors: Sustainability in Tompkins County and Beyond

In August of 2009, Governor David Paterson signed Executive Order No. 24 setting a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York State by 80% by the year 2050. See what the Climate Action Council is working on to implement this ambitious goal:

NY Climate Action Planning

The Cleaner Greener Southern Tier Regional Sustainability Plan establishes 18 goals and outlines a strategy for a future that is economically prosperous, environmentally sound, and socially responsible. The plan's implementation strategy discusses 65 actions that together have the potential to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by over 32 percent within 20 years.

Tompkins County has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions county-wide by 80 percent by the year 2050. Learn how by visiting:

Tompkins County Energy and Climate Initiative

The City of Ithaca is striving to protect the environment, to reduce energy costs, and to set a positive example to encourage others to reduce their own output of greenhouse gases. Learn more by visiting the following link:

City of Ithaca Sustainability Planning

The three higher education institutions in Tompkins County have signed onto the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, pledging to achieve climate neutrality.

See how each school is making progress on this effort by clicking on the images below:

Green Resource Hub of the Finger Lakes is a non-profit organization that looks to expand the marketplace for sustainable living in the Finger Lakes region.

Sustainable Tompkins, a citizen-based organization, has been leading the sustainability movement in the area, working towards the long-term well-being of our communities by integrating social equity, economic vitality, ecological stewardship, and personal and civic responsibility.

The Sustainability Center provides a place where visitors can learn about our community's collective efforts to protect the environment for many generations to come. Through proactive initiatives led by community members, Tompkins County is embracing the challenges of creating a sustainable community. Local individuals, businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations and academic institutions are focusing on critical areas such as energy, transportation, waste, and local food and are addressing the pressing issues with innovative solutions.

The Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI) is a cross-sector collaboration bringing together leaders from the business, non-profit, local government, and education sectors, whose organizations have made significant commitments to climate protection. This coalition seeks to leverage the climate action commitments made by institutions and organizations throughout the County to mobilize a countywide energy efficiency effort focused primarily on the retrofitting of buildings. In doing so, TCCPI has fostered a culture of collaboration that has led to partnerships and capacity-building amongst groups throughout Tompkins County.