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HOLT Architects, 619 W. State St.

In 2016, HOLT Architects completed the renovation of a one-story, 7,600 square foot strip mall into a near net-zero energy building – now home to the firm’s Ithaca operations. HOLT worked to not only preserve but also highlight as much of the original structure as possible.

Two critical components were necessary to achieve near net-zero: energy consumption minimization, and onsite energy production. They consisted of the following measures:

  • Envelope: Tightening the thermal envelope by putting continuous insulation inside of CMU block walls and study cavities.
  • Lighting: Installation of LED lighting and lighting controls such as occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, and scheduling software.
  • Plug Loads: Installation of plug load controls.
  • Mechanical Systems: Installation of an all-electric, distributed air-to-air heat pump
  • Onsite Energy Production: Installation of a 60 kW solar PV array on the roof.

104 East State St.

Homegrown SkateshopCurrently a mixed-use building with retail on the first floor and three apartments above, 104 East State St. dates back to the late 1860s and once operated as a clothing store. Today, the building houses Homegrown Skateshop, the only skateboarder-run retail business serving Ithaca.

The building’s current owner, Fred Schoeps, purchased the building in 2011 and then decided to redevelop the upper
floors into apartments. The renovation was completed in 2014, under architect Claudia Brenner and general contractor Scott Smith of Latipac Builders. Some main features implemented during the renovation include:

  • Facade Renovation: Old wooden windows were replaced with energy-efficient windows. Exterior walls and the slanted roof were insulated before the interior walls and ceilings were put in place.
  • Natural Lighting: A light shaft was installed to minimize requirements for artificial lighting.
  • Electrification: All appliances were made electric and individual units were provided for
    each apartment, including heating and cooling units and hot water heaters.

In 2020, the building has already met the 2030 reduction targets for both energy and water performance. The building exemplifies what existing properties are able to achieve by incorporating standard green improvements, and underscores the fact that bleeding-edge technology is not necessary to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of an already existing
structure. “Looking back, it really was a simple decision to make a commitment to improve the sustainability of our building,” said Schoeps. “It is one of the simplest ways of giving back to the community and adding economic value.”

Purity Ice Cream

Purity Ice CreamAn icon of the Finger Lakes region, Purity Ice Cream was first founded in 1936. As a popular destination for ice cream lovers, the Purity building located at 700 Cascadilla St. houses a mix of restaurant, retail, and office space.

Keenly aware of the energy-intensive nature of ice cream operations, Purity’s co-owner Bruce Lane has been committed to making the business as green as possible. Many sustainable practices were implemented over the years, including:

  • Geothermal: Four high-efficiency ground source heat pumps/air conditioning systems were installed with programmable thermostats and energy recovery ventilation units. The heat pumps are entirely powered by solar energy.
  • Solar Power: Purity is one of the first commercial properties in Ithaca to install rooftop solar. It currently has a solar PV system with a capacity of over 35 kW.
  • Facade Renovation: Improved roof and wall insulation with high-efficiency windows and doors. The new roof is white to mitigate solar gain in the summer, which places the biggest load on HVAC resources.
  • Energy-Efficient Lighting: LED lighting and new windows were installed to create well-lit rental office space.
  • Site Surroundings: Reduced overall paved footprint, created extensive landscaping, and installed bike racks near the building to provide a more accessible and aesthetic environment for walking and biking and to improve stormwater runoff mitigation.

Press Bay Court

Press Bay CourtJohn Guttridge, along with his business partner David Kuckuk, has forged an innovative path on the west side of the Commons,
breathing new life into West State/MLK, Jr. and Green Streets. Their company, Urban Core, LLC, has provided an exciting example of how to transform old structures into fresh-looking, low-carbon buildings that help create a vibrant neighborhood.

Press Bay Alley, just down the street, was one of the original fifteen buildings in 2016 when the Ithaca 2030 District officially launched. In 2021, Urban Core added two more buildings to the District: Press Bay Court and the old Ithaca Journal building. Press Bay Court is especially impressive because Urban Core took a rundown, vacant building and turned it into a distinctive
mixed-use destination that provides a nice complement to Press Bay Alley and, like the latter, is fossil-fuel free.

The renovation, completed in late 2018, created several small-scale retail spaces on the ground floor and four one-bedroom apartments on the second floor, adding some moderate-income housing to a market seriously deficient in this category. Some main features implemented during the renovation include:

  • High-efficiency air source heat pumps that provide heat and air conditioning
  • All LED lighting
  • New EnergyStar electric appliances, including for cooking
  • Airtight spray foam insulation and high-performance rigid foam on the roof
  • Expansive new windows on the ground floor that take advantage of the natural light

The building sailed past the 2025 reduction targets in 2021 for both energy and water
performance and came very close to meeting the 2030 reduction targets. Similar to the 104 East
State St. building on the Commons, which we highlighted in last year’s annual report, Press Bay
Court demonstrates what existing properties can achieve by incorporating standard green
improvements, and underscores the fact that bleeding-edge technology is not necessary to
significantly reduce the carbon footprint of an already existing structure.

GreenStar Cooperative Market

GreenStar Cooperative MarketThe flagship store of the GreenStar Food Co-op opened at its new location in May 2020 as a model of environmental stewardship. From the beginning GreenStar has sought to support regional farmers and producers, and provide its customers with as many local products as it can. Currently, local products make up more than 25% of its sales. Now the Co-op has a building to match its commitment to sustainable foods.

The 35,000 square foot facility at 770 Cascadilla St. repurposed an already existing building, incorporating under one roof not only the store but also the classroom, administrative office, and kitchen spaces previously housed in separate buildings. The expanded parking lot was constructed using pulverized material from a demolished warehouse, reducing
the need for new materials, and upgraded insulation was added to the walls and roof.

Other sustainable features of the building include:

  • Super-efficient air source heat pumps that meet 100 percent of the building’s space heating and cooling needs
  • Building systems, including the heat pumps, powered entirely by electricity from a local community solar farm
  • All LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances, and high quality windows
  • Increased accessibility such as wider aisles, counter heights designed with wheel-chair users in mind, and accessible parking spaces in front of the store with open spaces on both sides, not just one

The building’s total energy efficiency is 40 percent higher than required by current codes,
minimizing the building’s greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing comfort for customers and
employees. In recognition of the Co-op’s impressive achievement in reducing its carbon footprint
and promoting sustainable heat pump technology, HeatSmart Tompkins recently honored
GreenStar with its Award for Outstanding Earth Stewardship. GreenStar joins Purity Ice Cream as
the second 2030 District member to have won this award.

Founded the year after the first official Earth Day in 1970, GreenStar has maintained its
commitment, in the Co-op’s words, “to ecological responsibility,” striving “to act with care and
regard for the ecological consequences of our decisions.” This consistent adherence to green
practices has resulted in GreenStar meeting the Ithaca 2030 District’s 2025 target for energy
performance and 2030 target for water reduction.

Taitem Engineering, 110 S. Albany St.

Taitem Engineering set a design goal of net-zero energy. They are still working toward this goal, but some measures that have already been implemented are:
  • Lighting: Designed lighting power density to 0.5 W/ft2 as opposed to the standard 1.1.
  • Onsite Energy Production: Installation of a 6.44 kW solar PV array on the roof, and a ground mounted 2.76 kW array.
  • Water: Reduced consumption by 31% by installing dual flush toilets, low flow plumbing fixtures, and a high efficiency condensing boiler.
  • Mechanical Systems: Installation of a geothermal heat pump in the attic, lined with a radiant barrier material to increase efficiency.
  • Water: Reduced consumption by 31% by installing dual flush toilets, low flow plumbing fixtures, and a high efficiency condensing boiler.

The Watershed

From the day it opened in 2016 on West MLK St., the Watershed bar and café has cultivated a well-deserved reputation for sustainability and reflective conversation. Partners Ashley Cake and Dave Thomas undertook the venture with a coherent vision that permeates every feature of their operation. Working with building owners John Guttridge and his partner David Kuko at Urban Core, LLC, they have produced an exceptional example of the magic created when every detail of what it means to run a socially and environmentally responsible business receives careful consideration.

As with its other buildings, Urban Core was committed to getting the Watershed off natural gas, installing a high-efficiency heat pump system for heating and air conditioning. LED lighting and EnergyStar appliances contribute to the building’s overall energy efficiency. Gideon Stone and Michael Barnoski, founders of the local architecture and construction firm Trade Design Build, helped create the interior of the Watershed and later carried out the design and renovation of The Downstairs, a taproom in the Watershed’s basement. The initial project was honored with an Excellence in Design award from the Southern Tier American Institute of Architects.

The Watershed leads by example, going far beyond the recycling and composting typical of many sustainable businesses. Keenly aware of the tremendous trash and food waste spawned by the usual bar operation, the Watershed has worked diligently to get as close to zero waste as possible. They don’t use ice in their cocktails, and they refrain from stocking disposable napkins or straws. Collaborating with local vendors for their food offerings, they are able to cut down on disposable packaging and transport costs. As a result of these strategies, the Watershed generates less than a pound of trash per day and diverts 98% of its waste from landfills. In addition, it is the first bar in Tompkins County to become a certified living wage employer.

Given its commitment to social and environmental stewardship, it’s no surprise that the Watershed has easily reached its 2030 targets for both energy and water usage. In 2022, the Watershed realized a remarkable energy reduction of 74% and water savings of 60% below the building’s baselines, demonstrating conclusively that already existing commercial buildings can perform at very high levels.

Argos Inn

The Argos Inn, one of the fifteen charter properties joining the Ithaca 2030 District in 2016, is an extensively restored, nationally registered historic mansion in the heart of Ithaca. A LEED (Leadership In Energy And Environmental Design) certified building, the inn is an outstanding example of how historic preservation and green design can be combined to produce a beautiful, high performing building that exudes personality and character.

The historic renovation of the Argos Inn showcases the building’s painstakingly restored wood, stone, plaster, brick, and glass details. In recognition of this work, the inn received Historic Ithaca’s Preservation Award in 2014 and in 2017 it won the Preservation League of NYS award of Excellence in Historic Preservation, making it the first building in Ithaca to receive this honor.

Looking to the future as well as the past, Argos Inn features geothermal wells under the parking lot that provide fossil-fuel-free heating and air conditioning. Other sustainable features of the building include:

  • Significant increases in basement, wall, and roof insulation
  • Energy-efficient interior LED lighting
  • Low-flow water fixtures throughout
  • Programmable Nest thermostats
  • Low VOC building materials

Built in 1831, the mansion was converted into apartments in the 1920s. Two decades later Roy Park fashioned the property and neighboring warehouse into the world headquarters of Duncan Hines Foods. From the 1960s until the early part of this century a variety of other businesses occupied the building, including a hair salon, accounting firm, Buddhist publishing company, and various nonprofits.

When Avi Smith purchased the property in 2009, it was in poor condition. He dedicated the next four years to the building’s renovation and opened it as the Argos Inn in late 2013. In its citation recognizing his achievement, the Preservation League of NYS observed that the “building has been given new life as a boutique hotel and gathering space,” adding that” the restoration employed local artisans to restore or fabricate intricate architectural details that were lost or covered over – including more than a mile of millwork.” At the same time, Smith’s careful attention to energy efficiency resulted in the inn reaching its 2025 reduction target last year and its 2030 goal this year.

2030 Districts Network