The Finger Lakes Climate Fund is a program of Sustainable Tompkins, a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Ithaca, NY. The Climate Fund provides grants for residential energy efficiency projects for low-to-moderate income households in the Finger Lakes Region. We help pay for insulation, air sealing, energy efficient heating equipment, and other energy improvements to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The energy efficiency upgrades are carried out by certified contractors using guidelines provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). These home energy efficiency projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality, support low-income families, and help stimulate our local economy.
Certified contractors and installers apply to the Climate Fund on behalf of their clients by filling out an application form and providing documentation on the proposed project. These application packets are reviewed by a Grants Review Team consisting of local energy experts Ian Shapiro, President, Taitem Engineering; Cole Tucker, Energy Engineer, Utilities Distribution and Management, Cornell University; and Gay Nicholson, President, Sustainable Tompkins. Following review of the project, the ST Board of Directors approves issuance of the grant to the contractor to be deducted from the project cost for the client. In combination with other NYSERDA and utility rebates, the client often is only paying 20-50% of the project cost and the Climate Fund grant can provide the gap financing to allow a project to go forward even on a modest budget.
Project Verification Process
Verification ensures that carbon offset projects accurately calculate the amount of emissions that will be reduced as a result of the project. Through standards set by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and the Home Performance with Energy Star program, the residential energy efficiency projects follow industry best practices for estimating energy savings. Using guidelines provided by NYSERDA, the contractors follow a strict protocol for accurately predicting the long-term energy savings that will result from the home energy improvements using a shared common software package. The projects are verified by a third party (Conservation Services Group) that contracts with NYSERDA to monitor the performance of the certified contractors and installers. This process ensures that your carbon offset donations are resulting in actual greenhouse gas emission reductions
Green, Local Jobs
Another benefit of a local carbon offset fund is that it helps both the grant awardees and the contractors doing the work. Our contractors are carefully vetted, longtime partners that promise safety and quality both during and after installation. We also partner with several regional HeatSmart organizations that educate the public about clean energy programs and work with teams of certified and vetted contractors that meet our standards for living wages. The Climate Fund helps complete green energy jobs that would otherwise not have been possible and gives installers incentive to get clean-energy certified and provide living wage jobs.