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Solar power to shine during annual tour

BUFFALO, NY – Other ‘green’ features will share spotlight in Saturday’s event

Homes and buildings incorporating solar power and other “green” features will have their moment in the sun Saturday.

The region’s annual Tour of Solar Homes and Green Buildings will let owners and users talk up their energy-saving advantages, and give members of the public a chance to see the features up close and gather ideas.

The self-guided, free tour is part of the 15th annual American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour, billed as the world’s largest grass-roots solar event. The tour includes properties using such green features as wind or geothermal energy and straw bale construction.

“The biggest thing is, seeing is believing,” said James Walters, marketing manager for Solar Liberty, which installed systems for some participating properties. “It helps to actually see a solar energy system that is operating, that is providing enough solar energy to power an entire home.”

The region’s tour covers about two dozen properties from Youngstown to Jamestown and east to Akron, said Elizabeth Nichols, chairwoman of the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association, which organized the local tour.

Homeowners can learn how to make their homes more energy-efficient, while businesses can see how other companies are applying energy-saving features, Nichols said.

Some participating locations, including Ecology & Environment’s Lancaster headquarters, are well-known for their green elements. “They have an example of everything on their site,” Nichols said.

The tour includes the Buffalo City Mission, where solar power provides about 16 percent of the electrical usage, and the Pasciak resident in Depew, where 30 solar panels were installed on the roofs of the home and garage in summer 2009.

James Pasciak said the system has performed reliably and has dramatically cut his energy costs. “The money we spent getting these panels is paying right away,” Pasciak said. He expects to recoup the system’s net cost of $13,500 — a figure which includes incentives — in about nine years.

Participating properties will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, unless noted otherwise on the tour’s Web site. (To find sites to tour, visit and use the search functions.)

A kickoff event at 10 a.m. at 95 Perry St. in the Cobblestone District will honor three buildings for their energy-efficiency.

At noon at PUSH headquarters, 271 Grant St., architect Kevin Connors will conduct a workshop on making a home energy-efficient.

Also at noon, Tim Ryan of Apex Wind will make a presentation at Dug’s Dive at the Small Boat Harbor, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd., on the Steel Winds urban wind farm.

Buffalo News
By Matt Glynn