Optimism and Skepticism for Ithaca's Plan to Decarbonize

  • 11:53 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    Ithaca recently made history as it announced it would work to decarbonize its buildings; the first city in the United States to do such a move. Under this initiative, all 6,000 buildings located around the city would be decarbonized by 2030, with 1,300 of them being completed in the next 3 years.

  • 11:59 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    The news regarding this made headlines as national outlets such as the Washington Post and NPR reporting on it. But some people have not even heard of it, one of these being Andrew Eric.

  • 12:02 AM ET - 11/15/2021
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    As I ventured to Downtown Ithaca to hear community members' perspective on the news, Eric said he did not hear about it. He later asked me what it was about and offered his thoughts:

  • 12:15 AM ET - 11/15/2021
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    John Brain is a homeowner in the City of Ithaca. While he gave his support to the decarbonization plan, he said he lives in an older house with lots of big windows. Old buildings are a concern for John when thinking of how successful the decarbonization plan can actually be...

  • 12:45 AM ET - 11/15/2021
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    Part of the decarbonization plan includes converting gas-run appliances in these buildings to electric counterparts, such as electric stoves and ovens. The City also plans to improve the energy efficiency of each building as well after it announced last a new Ithaca Energy Code Supplement (IECS). This requires newly constructed buildings to have 40% decrease in greenhouse emissions than buildings that followed NYS code. Greenhouse emissions must continue to drop as the years pass with new buildings needing to reduce emissions by 80% in 2023 and achieve net-zero buildings by 2026; the only exception to that prevision would allow fossil fuels to be emitted for cooking and processing energy.

  • 01:34 AM ET - 11/15/2021
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    However, while the switch to electric make seem easy, some are skeptical that the move could do more damage than good, including local environmental activist Neil Oolie.

  • 12:43 PM ET - 11/15/2021
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    Others have concerns regarding fossil fuel use as well, including the Ithaca Sunrise Movement. The organization has been a strong proponent of having a "no fossil fuel prerequisite" for energy improvements since the City passed the Green Building policy. The IECS falls under this policy, as well as affordability improvements and how to use renewable energy sources.

  • 12:52 PM ET - 11/15/2021
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    But going back to Oolie's point regarding solar panels and their success in Germany, solar energy developer, Nexamp, proposed to build a solar facility in Ithaca. Ryan McCune, the company's business development manager said that a 25 acre solar plant could help, but not fully, meet the energy demands that the City currently has. However, no word or update has been released yet regarding if the solar plant will be approved and if it will come to fruition as the decarbonization plan encompasses more buildings than the develop initially proposed.