hen Fred Schoeps bought a 150-year-old building in downtown Ithaca, New York, a decade ago, he was one of only a handful of building owners dedicated to ending their reliance on fossil fuels and reducing their carbon footprint. His three-year renovation of the building, comprising three apartments above a skate store, included installing energy-efficient windows and insulation, plus fully electric appliances, heating and cooling systems. But while that was an achievement on its own, said Schoeps, Ithaca can not address climate change one building at a time. “In order to move the needle, you’ve got to think in terms of a thousand [buildings],” he said. Luis Aguirre-Torres, Ithaca’s new director of sustainability, is trying to do exactly that. The upstate New York city of 30,000, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, adopted a Green New Deal in 2019, a big part of which involves decarbonizing thousands of privately owned commercial and residential buildings across the city. Ithaca’s main climate objective is to eliminate or offset all of its carbon emissions ​​by 2030. The focus on retrofitting buildings – installing electric heating systems, solar panels and battery storage as well as reducing energy use and greening the electric grid […]

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