The GRoW (Garden, Relax, or Work) Home is a 1.100-square-foot structure and was the University at Buffalo’s groundbreaking and innovative submission to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 Solar Decathalon . The DOE Decathlon is an international competition held every two years where the top collegiate teams are invited from around the world to design, build, operate, and market an ultra-efficient clean energy home. The competition challenges teams to develop a sustainable project that performs well in 10 individual contests, ranging from Architecture and Engineering excellence, to Market Potential and Energy Performance. UB’s 2015 team was comprised of over 200 students, faculty from 13 different departments across 5 separate schools, and from 2 universities who came together to develop a comprehensive proposal to represent Buffalo on an international stage. This process was led by Martha Bohm, associate professor of architecture at UB. Through this extremely rare opportunity, the students were able to work in a highly collaborative and vastly interdisciplinary fashion to gain real world experience through a common objective, all before graduating. In this manner, the GRoW home served as an ideal model to bridge the gap between research-based academia and practice-based industry and demonstrate low-energy living to the campus and greater community.
Part of UB's work related to Localizing Buffalo’s Renewable Energy Future was to establish a Clean Energy Center on UB’s campus as an exemplary model of a solar powered community space by permanently installing what had been known as the GRoW Home to serve as the base of operations for our Localizing initiative. The purpose behind permanently siting the GRoW Home within Walter Hood’s 750 kW Solar Strand on UB’s North Campus was to leverage the region’s commitment to solar energy and highlight our ability to successfully generate solar power, and create a space that invites the community into one of the most publicly accessible renewable energy landscapes in the country.
Renamed as the GRoW Clean Energy Center (CEC), the building was relocated to its permanent location within the Solar Strand on UB's North Campus during the summer of 2020. GRoW CEC will become a student engagement space for experiential learning activities related to clean energy. It will also be used for a meeting space for sustainability oriented groups on campus, as well as local non-profits focused on clean energy. The building will also be opened to K-12 schools, as well as college students outside UB, professional organizations, and community groups for tours and events.