Canalside should pursue? net zero energy buildings

Both Webster Block proposals have some excellent merits. Whichever project is chosen, would the developer please consider setting a goal of constructing net zero energy buildings? Net zero buildings generate as much energy as they use, and are now an affordable construction option.

Net zero buildings on the Webster Block can fulfill five key objectives: Minimize energy consumption. Create green jobs. Generate additional thousands of visitors. Add to the impressive list of Buffalo's architecturally significant buildings. Guide our future.

Building a beacon of 21st century energy efficiency continues the original mission of the Erie Canal: conserve vast amounts of energy (otherwise consumed by transporting goods and people between Buffalo and Albany).

Since buildings consume 40 percent of the world's energy (more than all transportation sectors combined), building energy efficiency has substantial and widespread impact. Buildings can achieve energy efficiency at low cost, with high returns. Buffalo's green building industry pioneers can help us dig out of our economic slump and chart our course toward a greener future.

Buffalo offers cutting-edge green technology and services, fueled by world-class people. Readers of The News may be familiar with locally produced solar power arrays, along with locally invented radiant floor heating technology, unique wind power systems and insulated thermal mass walls.

These technologies can be easily incorporated into the historical context of Canalside, and be applied in buildings everywhere.

Through careful collaboration, our talented architects, skilled engineers, creative developers, capable contractors and skilled craftspeople can achieve cost-effective net zero energy buildings on the Webster Block, and at Canalside.

Frank Lloyd Wright wasn't the first architect to design great buildings in Buffalo, and he won't be the last.

Marty Walters



Society must truly embrace? nonviolence on every level

The Community Forum on Youth Violence and Safe Neighborhoods at Buffalo State College on Aug. 6 was a successful and important event. Many came to work on this vital topic: city, county and state representatives, academics, professionals (including from Buffalo Public Schools), parents and community leaders and, significantly, youth.

The forum was a great vehicle to explore the issue and possible solutions. Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes made perhaps the most important point - the violence of our own government is an often-ignored but absolutely critical factor in the violence we see in our streets and in our society in general.

When "might is right" (also known as bullying) is our foreign policy; when pre-emptive strikes, pre-emptive surveillance and torture are acceptable; when "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today [is] my own government," as Dr. King said, we shouldn't be surprised that violence is what really trickles down.

If and when we truly embrace nonviolence and use its tools of communication and cooperation, our communities and our world will become dramatically safer. Let's work toward that - for and with our youth. Forming a citywide task force, as wisely suggested by Lafayette High School Principal Naomi Cerre, would be a crucial next step.

Victoria Ross

Peaceful Conflict Resolution Consultant

Interfaith Peace Network

Western New York Peace Center


Having a ‘sewer meter'? would not save money

In response to a recent News article about sewer usage costs being calculated by the amount of water usage, and that it doesn't seem fair, I'd like to hopefully clarify some of the processes by which rates are calculated. To simplify how a municipal water or sewer fund budget is created, the cost to clean and supply (or discharge) water is calculated on an annual basis. Chemicals, utility costs, labor, plant modifications and upkeep, supply and discharge lines, etc., are all part of the picture. Sewer revenues and expenses are always kept separate from water revenues and expenses.

In its simplest form, that very large number is divided by the average annual water usage, townwide, to discern what is the cost per 1,000 gallons of fresh water to either provide clean drinking water or discharge the waste water in a clean manner. Although it is not perfect, the easiest, most economical way to assign the waste water purification costs per household is by the fresh water meter. You may water a garden, your neighbor may put in a new lawn and another neighbor may wash his household's three cars seemingly daily. We all use water, and in summertime even more.

Even if a "sewer meter" could be installed (costly), maintained (even more costly) and read accurately, the pool of funds needed to clean the waste water is still a defined amount. If the townwide usage is lower, through this phantom "sewer meter," the rate per 1,000 gallons would have to be higher to meet the revenue needs to properly clean the water, and maintain the system. Bottom line, you'd spend about the same. Be happy these services can be provided to you, and that you and your family have clean, safe water to drink, and in a plentiful supply. Many in the world are not so lucky.

Pamela Barton

Supervising Accountant

Town of Grand Island


Money comes before? everything these days

I, like most people, can often be heard wondering "what is wrong with this world?" Well, I just found out a very small truth that could be part of the problem.

At age 19, I began working in a financial service job. At that time, and for many years afterward, we knew that if we took good care of our customers, they would come back to us with their future business. For many years, I did very well following that one golden rule. But, as is always the case, things change.

Instead of financial services, we find ourselves in financial sales. Most of my family, friends and probably none of my customers would have any idea that if goals weren't met, then there would be hell to pay. So while we appear to be a friendly solution to our customers' needs, we are quickly trying to uncover their "severe mental anguish" and sell to that. If being nice doesn't produce a sale, we could always try to scare our customers into buying something.

Sadly for me, and to a large degree, my very well-treated customers, I was terminated from a career I loved for 30 years. My boss told me I was a nice person, but he didn't need nice people, he needed number people. Very sad for the business, and more so for the customers who keep its doors open.

As I look back on major life events, such as my daughter being born three months early and my husband's battle with brain cancer, it may have been the doctors (the number people) who saved them, but it most certainly was the nice people who got us through.

And that is maybe a small part of what is wrong with this world today.

Michelle Mathews