City of Ithaca announces building electrification projects

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New York Construction Report staff writer

Ithaca’s office of sustainability has announced 10 commercial buildings that will be fully electrified in the next few months.

Ranging from retail stores and restaurants to cultural, performance, fitness, office and religious spaces, decarbonization of the buildings represents a total clean energy investment of over $1.9 million, with $1.4 million from state and federal incentives. 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, Ithaca’s 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.”

Electrification is also a step forward for the “built environment” component of 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 will 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)

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