Thirty-five homes, businesses and other institutions that have added energy-efficient features or rely on energy produced from sustainable sources will be on display during a public tour Saturday in the Buffalo area.
The 17th annual Solar & Green Buildings Open House Tour will highlight “green” building features and residential and commercial properties that use solar or geothermal power.
“It’s just great, spreading the word about renewable energy,” said Maureen Hanagan, marketing manager for Solar Liberty, which has installed about 700 solar arrays across the state since 2003.
The local tour is part of the annual National Solar Tour and is put on by the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association.
Organizers say members of the public are savvier about solar power or making energy-efficient renovations to a home, and these features are becoming more popular.
Hanagan said Solar Liberty now installs three or four solar arrays each week, and its 700 arrays across the state have a combined output of close to 14 megawatts.
Buffalo Geothermal installed eight geothermal systems in 2009, its first full year of existence, and is on pace to install more than 110 such systems this year, said Jens Ponikau, who designs geosystems for the company.
The high-tech systems provide heat in the winter, air-conditioning in the summer and domestic hot water, he said.
Saturday’s tour runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features about 35 sites in the Buffalo area, primarily green buildings or buildings with solar arrays, but also including one geothermal system installed at a location in Clarence, said Marika Woods-Frankenstein, co-chairwoman of the tour.
The event kicks off at Hispanics United of Buffalo, 254 Virginia St., which has a 25.2- kilowatt solar array on its roof that was installed by Solar Liberty two years ago, Woods-Frankenstein said.
Representatives from Cornell Cooperative Extension and Unwaste New York will attend the kickoff event to provide information about how to lower energy costs.
Organizers will hand out 150 National Fuel weatherization kits and 50 NFTA day passes for people who want to visit sites on the tour by bus.
Organizers still are fine-tuning the list of sites on the tour, but it will include the Solar Strand on the University at Buffalo North Campus, just inside the Flint Road entrance, and a home in Jamestown made out of bales of straw and recovered materials, Woods-Frankenstein said.
The tour is free and self-guided, but a volunteer will be posted at each site to answer questions from the public.
To find out which buildings are on the tour, visit www.energysage.com and type in the 14222 ZIP code to find all of the sites within a 250-mile radius.