The President's Sustainable Campus Committee awarded the 2012 Cornell University Partners in Sustainability Award (CUPSA) to the town of Caroline May 1 for making "significant contributions to the sustainable development of Tompkins County and New York state, through collaborations with various stakeholders, and in a broad and giving spirit of community."
In announcing the selection, Cornell officials noted that over the last decade, Caroline has been the most environmentally responsible municipality in Tompkins County through its development of green initiatives, often involving Cornell staff and faculty, and including Cooperative Extension.
Highlights of Caroline's efforts include:
- In 2004, Caroline became the eighth municipality in New York to purchase wind power to provide part of the municipal electrical needs.
- In 2005, Caroline became the second municipality to purchase wind power for 100 percent of its electricity use.
- In 2005, Energy Independent Caroline began meeting as a collaborative effort among residents, town government, youth groups and other interested parties. The group explores ways to use natural resources to achieve energy independence from fossil fuels on a municipal and residential level; its goal is to produce sustainable and reliable power for electricity, heat and transportation from renewable resources.
- In 2008, volunteers -- including many Cornell students -- coordinated the largest single-day distribution of energy-saving light bulbs in rural New York state. In three hours, 90 volunteers delivered more than 1,400 bags containing an energy-saving light bulb to almost every household in Caroline.
- In 2010, the Town of Caroline Office Building had a state-of-the art photovoltaic solar array installed. The array turns energy from the sun into electricity, powering both the office building and historic town hall next door. The system is "net metered," and when it generates more electricity than needed in the buildings, it sends electricity back to the grid.
More information on the town of Caroline's path toward greater energy independence is available online (PDF).
The award was previously presented to NYSERDA (2010) and the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (2011).