New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos recently recognized the city of Ithaca as New York's 17th local government to be designated a Certified Climate Smart Community.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said "I applaud the city of Ithaca for its long-standing commitment to fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 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. Mayor Myrick, thank you for your leadership."
At an event today at the state-funded new electric vehicle charging station at the Cayuga Street Parking Garage in Ithaca, DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Kenneth Lynch and Regional Director Matthew Marko congratulated Svante Myrick, mayor of the City of Ithaca, and presented him with street signs highlighting the city's achievement of certification.
Launched in 2014, the Climate Smart Communities Certification Program recognizes local governments that have taken action to reduce emissions and protect their communities from a changing climate. The 17 Certified Climate Smart Communities represent New York's foremost leaders in local climate action.
The city of Ithaca earned certification points in nearly all of the 10 Climate Smart Community Pledge Elements, illustrating its 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.
The city of Ithaca leads by example by focusing first on its own operations. 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 (RECs) to offset 100 percent of its electricity use in municipal facilities. As a result of these RECs and biogas from the local waste water treatment plant, about two thirds of the total energy used in city facilities comes from renewable energy.
Ithaca has also worked hard to improve quality of life in the community and create a dense, walkable city. Its Comprehensive Plan focuses on smart growth by supporting mixed use zoning, diverse housing choices, and cluster development, and by directing development to existing urban areas. The city has a Safe Routes to School program to enable and encourage students to walk and bike to school. Ithaca has also implemented initiatives to make the city bicycle-friendly by completing a bicycle boulevard plan, installing bike parking, improving signage, and expanding paths along the Cayuga Lake waterfront.
The city of Ithaca continues its leadership with the Green Building Policy Project, which is studying energy standards for new construction, and ways to incentivize or mandate those standards in the community. 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 (NYSERDA) is also funding a project in Tompkins County to help it build an 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.
NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said, "Congratulations to the City of Ithaca on this important accomplishment and for serving as a model for communities across the state that want to take control of their energy future. As the state advances Governor Cuomo's nation-leading energy strategy, communities play a key role in driving clean energy solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut costs, and build a stronger economy."
Senator Tom O'Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "Congratulations to Mayor Myrick and community leaders throughout the city of Ithaca for this important recognition of the city's commitment to cleaner energy, efficient infrastructure, and an overall development strategy that's focused on building a stronger, more efficient, growth-oriented community."
"I'm thrilled that the City of Ithaca is being recognized for its many accomplishments in preparing our community for a more sustainable future," said Assemblywoman Lifton. "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. Congratulations to Mayor Myrick, the Common Council, Sustainability Coordinator Nick Goldsmith, and the many others who have contributed to this important work."
"We thank the DEC for this meaningful recognition, and thank the State for its leadership on climate issues," said Mayor Myrick. "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. We look forward to future successes such as upgrading our streetlights to LED technology and improving the energy efficiency of new construction in Ithaca."
To learn more, visit the Climate Smart Communities Program webpage (http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/76483.html).
SOURCE: Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)