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by Tracy Will
Wed, Feb 24th 2010 08:15 am

If you've been receiving this newsletter and/or have visited our website, you already know that CIR has made a commitment to making incremental changes towards becoming a more sustainable company, and you've read about some of the things that we're doing and have already done to meet our sustainability goals.  However, what you may not know is why teaming up with PUSH Buffalo on their green housing rehabilitation demonstration project at 10 Winter Street is so important to us.

The most obvious reason, of course, is the solar electric system installation.  Renewable energy is at the forefront of efforts to advance the US and the world towards a sustainable energy future.  Installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems is primarily electrical work, and CIR is working hard to push into this market so that we can offer our customers this service.  We currently have three employees completing in-depth PV system installation training at IBEW Local 41, with the intent of attaining North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) solar PV installer certification.  To gain necessary on-the-job experience while offering our customers installations that are supervised by certified personnel, we have partnered with Triangle Electrical Systems, a union contractor out of Plattsburg that has extensive experience with solar electric systems.

Gaining experience and getting our name out as a solar PV installer certainly brings us one step closer to meeting our sustainability goals, but we're interested in this project for more than adding to our resume.  As we mentioned in our "PUSH for Green Affordable Housing" article, the project is a part of the larger, 25-block West Side redevelopment plan PUSH designed with partner organizations Homefront and the Massachusetts Avenue Project.  This plan goes straight to the heart of the "three-legged stool" that is sustainability; environment, economy and equity. 

The plan addresses environmental sustainability by reusing existing vacant structures and infusing them with the latest green building technologies, substantially reducing the energy inputs required over their new lifespan, and the associated pollution and other negative impacts.  The project itself is going to create additional demand within the green economy in WNY for green building systems, products and services, and the qualified personnel that goes along with them.  In addition, through the partnership with WNY AmeriCorps and other local entities, local unemployed youth will be provided with on-the-job training and job skills within the growing green economy, along with contacts and connections that can assist them with their future employment goals.

The equity component is at the core of PUSH's goals as an organization; empowering residents of low-income neighborhoods on the West Side while helping them to improve the quality of affordable housing stock and their neighborhoods.  The plan comes full-circle to demonstrate how interconnected the three "legs" of sustainability are.  For example, low-income residents are those that have the least resources available to make energy-efficiency improvements, but have the most to gain from the resulting savings on utility bills.  This plan has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life and quality of neighborhoods for of many of the city's most disadvantaged residents, while simultaneously building momentum for further positive development, or redevelopment in Buffalo and the greater WNY community.

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