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Posted on: February 2, 2024

City of Ithaca Announces First “Bloc” of Building Electrification Projects

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City of Ithaca Announces First “Bloc” of Building Electrification Projects, as City Progresses into the next phase of Green New Deal

Diverse portfolio of small business and non-profit buildings represents $1.9 million in clean energy investments, including businesses ranging from restaurants and retail to theaters, churches, and office space.

As the City of Ithaca continues to achieve progress and advance its commitment to the Ithaca Green New Deal (IGND), today the office of Sustainability announced a diverse portfolio of 10 additional commercial buildings that will be fully electrified in the months ahead. Ranging from retail stores and restaurants to cultural, performance, fitness, office, and religious spaces, the decarbonization of these buildings represents a total clean energy investment of over $1.9 million, with nearly $1.4 million of that amount being subsidized in the form of eligible state and federal incentives. The subsidies save building owners one million dollars—two-thirds of the cost of installation and upgrades. For the buildings where data is currently available, these energy upgrades represent nearly 680 metric tons of annual avoided greenhouse gas emissions based on EPA estimates.

“The City of Ithaca and BlocPower, along with our countless community partners, have worked tirelessly to lay a solid foundation to build our electrification program on; Electrify Ithaca has come a long way since 2022 and we’re finally seeing the results of the hard pay off”, said Rebecca Evans, City of Ithaca Director of Sustainability. “It’s a vote of confidence that community leaders, like those represented in this cohort, to take this big step in decarbonizing their operations and I’m sure many will follow in their trailblazing footsteps.”

The electrification of these buildings represents a notable step forward for the “Built Environment” component of the IGND, as chronicled in the Ithaca Green New Deal Scorecard, which measures progress and provides updates on all aspects of the program. The Built Environment includes all buildings where residents live, work, and socialize, shop and obtain services — homes, offices, businesses, hospitals, places of worship, schools, stores, etc. During 2023, a focus on non-residential buildings was adopted to take advantage of a recently expired significant incentive, provided by New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) as a part of its NYS Clean Heat Rebate Program for commercial properties installing heat pumps in gas-constrained areas.

BlocPower, the City of Ithaca’s designated clean technology partner to implement building electrification projects, weatherization upgrades as well as other IGND programs, has worked closely with NYSEG on securing the approval of these incentives before the deadline.

“The City of Ithaca continues to lay the groundwork for what a successful city-wide decarbonization movement looks like,” stated BlocPower program manager Ethan Bodnaruk. “This movement, and the city, are crucial to inspiring other cities and jurisdictions.”

The names and locations of the commercial buildings that have or are being electrified are listed below:

  • Gimme Coffee, 506 W. State St. (café and roastery)
  • Significant Elements, 212 Center St. (nonprofit architectural warehouse)
  • Historic Ithaca, 210 Center St. (nonprofit cultural organization)
  • Ithaca Piercing & Tattoo, 120 S. Cayuga St. (retail)
  • First Baptist Church, 309 N. Cayuga St. (place of worship)
  • St. James AME, 116 Cleveland Ave. (place of worship)
  • Lifelong Senior Center, 119 W. Court St. (nonprofit)
  • Aeroplane Factory, 120 Brindley Street (office spaces)
  • Circus Culture, 123 W State Street (cultural organization)
  • Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Plant Administrative Building, 525 Third St. (municipal building)
  • Petrune and Home Green Home, 126-128 E State St (retail)

About the IGND 

The Ithaca Green New Deal represents the City of Ithaca’s commitment to fighting climate change, social injustice, and economic inequality. It is a comprehensive program striving to achieve the twin objectives of carbon neutrality and climate justice by 2030. While the challenges of such ambitious yet critical goals are paramount and will face hurdles, tangible progress is well underway. A few of the early successes of the IGND include the following:

  • Adoption of the Ithaca Energy Code Supplement, requiring all new buildings meet net-zero energy requirements by 2026.
  • Launch of the Electrify Ithaca program, which leverages private capital, aggregated building portfolios, and government incentives to reduce building electrification costs.
  • Completed comprehensive greenhouse gas inventories that capture the full lifecycle of methane and emissions from the electric grid.
  • Accepted definition of “climate justice communities” that contextualizes social and economic vulnerabilities in the local landscape.

Passed Community Choice Aggregation local law that enables the development of an implementation plan to aggregate energy accounts to leverage affordable access to 24/7 carbon-free energy.

For media inquiries or more information, please contact: Melody Faraday, Public Information Specialist, (607) 274-6571; mfaraday@cityofithaca.org

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