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Saluting Energy Efficiency In Buffalo

On Saturday, October 2, the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association will host its 15th annual Tour of Solar Homes and Green Businesses. This tour will include 24 area buildings that have implemented a solar array or have some sort of green design element that demonstrates energy efficiency. It is a self-guided tour that is open to the public. The list of the sites that are being exhibited is available here.

The day will kickoff at 10 a.m. with a press event held at 95 Perry Street, a renovated former warehouse from 1926 which has been converted into a mixed-use office and retail building. This part of the event is also open to the public.

At the press gathering, the WNY Sustainable Energy Association will recognize three area buildings for their efforts in using renewable energy and energy-efficient building. Daemen College will be awarded for achieving LEED Gold Certification for its new Research and Information Center located at 4380 Main Street. The LEED certification is awarded to those who demonstrate leadership in energy and environmental design. Aaron Bartley of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) will also be recognized for his work on an older home at 10 Winter Street, which he converted to a net-zero energy home. Watts Architecture & Engineering, P.C. will be honored for their work in using energy efficient methods and technology to convert the warehouse at 95 Perry Street, where the event is being held.

Keynote speakers at the press gathering will be Aaron Bartley of PUSH and architect Kevin Connors of Eco Logic Studios. Connors, who is at the forefront of energy efficiency and green building design, will host a free workshop at PUSH headquarters at 271 Grant Street at 12 p.m. He will be discussing “How to Make Your Home Energy Efficient.”

Participants in the tour will have a wide variety of homes and businesses to observe, as the radius of the tour stretches from Cattaraugus County to Niagara County. There are seven buildings one can visit within the city of Buffalo. When visiting a site, one can see how the renewable energy device was implemented and pick up an informational packet from the Northeastern Sustainable Energy Association and a magazine that lists all the latest trends in solar energy. According to Marika Woods-Frankenstein of The Western New York Sustainable Energy Association, most of the sights are solar-focused. However, there are some wind sites, as well as a straw bale insulation site in Depew.

“So many people within this region are thinking of our future from an environmental standpoint,” said Woods-Frankenstein. The number of buildings on the tour has increased to 24 from between 12 to 15 last year. There are also some houses and buildings in the region that are not on the tour. According to Woods-Frankenstein, over 47 Catholic schools within the region were outfitted with solar arrays donated by Solar Liberty. “Each solar array represents over 30 years, tons and tons of all the dangerous chemicals that are the result of fossil fuel technology, being taken out of our atmosphere,” Woods-Frankenstein said. Solar Liberty also recently donated and dedicated a 30-kilowatt solar array at the city mission. “That’s at the gateway of the city, and it speaks well of our forward thinking,” she added.

“Our region has been at the forefront of energy innovation for over the past 100 years,” Woods-Frankenstein said. “We’ve been at the vanguard of renewable energy technology with hydropower, and here we are again. We’ve returned to the forefront of innovative thinking.” She added that as Buffalo continues to increase its renewable energy footprint, it would hopefully create jobs in the region in constructing and maintaining these solar and wind sites.

The Buffalo Rising
By Sarah Maurer