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Our History

Solar panels on the roof of Norton Hall

The 75 kWh solar array on the roof of Norton Hall serves as a continued demonstration project and educational opportunity surrounding solar energy.

From researchers studying environmental issues at Love Canal to performing cutting edge research on climate change in the Arctic, UB is leading the way toward a sustainable future, and has been for more than three decades.

Research isn't the only way in which UB is a sustainability leader. It’s also in what we do on campus. UB has saved millions of dollars over the years through:

  • energy conservation efforts
  • increasing energy efficiency
  • promoting a culture of sustainability at the university, whether it’s going trayless in our dining centers or implementing an all-in-one recycling program.

A Timeline of Accomplishments

  • UB’s environmental efforts formally began in 1971 with the Rachel Carson College, created from a collegiate workshop on ecology and named after the “Silent Spring” author who launched the modern environmental movement.
  • In 1978, UB professor Adeline Levine and her students studied dozens of families affected by contamination from Love Canal.
  • The Conserve UB program was established in 1982 with the hiring of UB’s first Energy Officer. Three years later, the Great Lakes Program was created.
  • In the mid-1990s, UB Environmental Studies students conducted environmental audits of UB campuses, Buffalo City Hall and other Western New York buildings. These audits led to millions of dollars in savings.
  • The UB Green office was created in 1999 to provide environmental stewardship for campus facilities.
  • In 2001, UB published “UB High Performance Building Guidelines,” a model for construction statewide.
  • In November 2006, UB unveiled its first solar electric system. In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore gave two lectures in Alumni Arena, speaking on environmental issues. He was joined throughout the year as part of the Distinguished Speakers series by environmental leaders Jean Michel Cousteau and Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathi.
  • In March 2007, UB became an initial signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.
  • By Fall 2009, UB released its Climate Action Plan, a document born out of two public forums and critical work from the Environmental Stewardship Committee. The Plan draws from UB’s Comprehensive Plan and sets a goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030.
  • In September 2011, UB appointed its first Chief Sustainability Officer, elevating our overall commitment to sustainability and focusing efforts on creating a strong culture of sustainability at UB.
  • Throughout 2012, UB is opening several new buildings, all of which were designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.