Ithaca, NY

City of Ithaca to be awarded Climate Champion Community Award

Grant Johnson

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Since the launch of the Ithaca Green New Deal, cities all over the country have adopted similar programs.(Courtesy City of Ithaca)

(ITHACA, NY) An ambitious initiative by the City of Ithaca to achieve carbon neutrality community-wide by 2030 is being awarded the 2022 Climate Champion Community Award Winner by the US Green Building Council.

In June 2019, the City of Ithaca Common Council unanimously voted to adopt the Ithaca Green New Deal with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. The Green New Deal addresses climate change, economic inequality and racial injustice.

The Ithaca Green New Deal has two main goals: Achieve carbon neutrality community-wide by 2030 and ensure benefits are shared among all local communities to reduce historical social and economic inequities, according to the city’s website.

The City of Ithaca adopted several goals to take action on the project early on. Before 2025, the hope is to meet the electricity needs of government operations with 100% renewable electricity. They also hope to reduce emissions from the City vehicle fleet by 50% by 2025.

Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres was hired in the Spring of 2021 as the Director of Sustainability to help draft and implement the action plan. He helped secure funding and created a partnership with BlocPower, a Brooklyn-based climate tech startup to assist with the initiative.

The US Green Building Council plans to recognize the groundbreaking work of Dr. Aguirre-Torres and his colleague Rebecca Evans who serves as sustainability planner for the City of Ithaca.

“Honored to have our work recognized with the Climate Champion award from USGBC Upstate,” Evans celebrated on Twitter. “It’s bittersweet to receive the award, particularly as the dust settles from the departure of my friend and colleague [Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres]. Miss working with ya, buddy. Onward and upward.”

On October 7, Dr. Aguirre-Torres announced his resignation from his position as Director of Sustainability but said The Green New Deal “will be more than fine” under the leadership of his colleague, Rebecca Evans.

The City of Ithaca, along with other award recipients, will be celebrated at the US Green Building Council NY Upstate 2022 Virtual Leadership Awards Gala. The virtual event is scheduled for November 15th from 4:30-6:30 PM.

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Grant Johnson is an award-winning visual storyteller and video producer. Coverage includes business and dining, transportation and development, education and county news.

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