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On Earth Day, UB opens the nation’s most publicly accessible solar array

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The community is invited to come celebrate Earth Day at UB's Solar Strand.

Published May 24, 2013

“This is a valuable resource for the university as well as the public, who are able to learn, teach and discover in this remarkable facility.”
Satish K. Tripathi, President
University at Buffalo

Solar power plants are often located behind fences, on rooftops or in hard-to-reach places.

The University at Buffalo’s Solar Strand, believed to be the nation’s most publicly accessible photovoltaic array, is an exception. On Monday, April 22, as the world observed Earth Day, UB and the Western New York Environmental Alliance introduced the public to the one-of-a-kind facility with a 90-minute event that highlighted how environmental initiatives are redefining our economy and improving our quality of life.

“The Solar Strand has attracted a great deal of attention as a renewable energy landscape that produces enough clean energy to power hundreds of student apartments. More than that, it’s a focal point for sustainable education and research,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said. “This is a valuable resource for the university as well as the public, who are able to learn, teach and discover in this remarkable facility.”

The event featured short speeches from people working to create a more sustainable future in Western New York and beyond. Among them: Samina Raja, UB associate professor of urban and regional planning; Jill Jedlicka, executive director of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper; Kenneth Shockley, UB associate professor of philosophy; Justin Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo; and Aaron Bartley, executive director and co-founder of PUSH Buffalo.

Robert E. Knoer, an attorney who serves as the environmental alliance’s chairman, noted that it represents more than 100 organizations and support groups. He said the event “will be an opportunity for them to build on existing connections with UB and to tap into the human energy that the university’s students represent.”

The event included tours of the Solar Strand, music and an Earth Day awards ceremony presented by Ecology and Environment Inc.

About the Solar Strand: Designed by celebrated landscape artist Walter Hood, the Solar Strand contains 3,200 solar panels laid out in the pattern of a DNA fingerprint. Since UB flipped the switch a year ago, it has generated more than 882,556 kilowatts of clean, renewable electricity. That equates to nearly 72,000 gallons of gasoline saved or the abatement of 633 tons of carbon dioxide. Note: These figures are as of April 19 and subject to change. For more information, visit: www.buffalo.edu/sustainability/solar-strand.html.