Published August 18, 2014
From electric car charging stations to parking lot lights powered by the wind and sun, the progressive approach to energy use at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is a model for the future.
That’s according to National Grid CEO Steve Holliday, who spoke to roughly 200 business leaders and academics last week in the Agrusa Auditorium in Davis Hall on North Campus.
Unlike the traditional paradigm, when utility companies react to what businesses and organizations build, National Grid became involved in planning the medical campus during its infancy, Holliday said.
The early start allowed National Grid to implement new technologies, such as the eco-friendly parking lot lights, that are helping to make the medical campus more sustainable, he said.
“Across all our business, I genuinely think the collaborations going on here is the best I’ve seen,” said Holliday, who is based in London.
Also speaking at the event was UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski. He said the university will continue to seek ways to partner with businesses, nonprofits and other institutions of higher learning.
An example of this, he said, is UB’s new interdisciplinary initiative RENEW, which stands for Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water.
“These are issues — water, energy and the environment — that are critically important for our future,” he said.
The university has committed to RENEW $21 million over seven years to hire 20 new faculty members, including a director, and develop new academic programs for students.
Alexander N. Cartwright, vice president for research and economic development, also spoke at the event. He noted that in general, and particularly at UB, institutes of higher education and industry are collaborating more than they did two decades ago, when he joined UB’s faculty.
START-UP NY, a tax incentive program established by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that promotes collaboration between UB and new businesses, is example of this, Cartwright said.
Holliday, who was joined by Ken Daly, president of National Grid’s New York division, and Dennis Elsenbeck, regional director for National Grid in Buffalo, also spoke about the company’s need to attract talented new engineers to replace retiring baby boomers, as well as the need to upgrade aging infrastructure throughout the U.S.