Buffalo Commons

Library

View

The Climate Justice Movement in Western New York

Sam Magavern, Lynda Schneekloth — Jul 9, 2019

Although climate change requires an international response and will require national policies and actions, local geographies have to be involved because it that is where the harms are felt.  But how can local and regional areas respond to the climate crisis?  This article offers a story of the emergence of a climate justice movement in Buffalo and Western New York as an example of how one community is addressing climate change and its unequal impacts.

View Resource

Just Transitions in School Food

Jessica Gilbert, Alexandra Schindel, Sarah Robert — Oct 18, 2018

This article examines the public school food system in Buffalo, New York, for a just transition (Movement Generation, n. d.). School food programs built on just transition characteristics democratize engagement, decentralize decisionmaking, diversify the economy, decrease consumption, and redistribute resources and power.

View Resource

Erie County Commits to Paris: How Erie County Can Meet US Target Reductions For Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mark Poloncarz — May 7, 2018

“Erie County can take action to ensure its part in protecting the well-being and future of our planet by promulgating a plan to implement the United States target contribution plan to the Paris Agreement, as it pertains to Erie County, and to take such further action as it may by law to enforce the target contribution goals set by the United States within the bounds of the County of Erie, State of New York.”

View Resource

Good Food Purchasing for the Buffalo Public Schools

Jessica Gilbert — Apr 24, 2018

This policy report was drafted by Jessica Gilbert, research associate at PPG and PhD Candidate in the University at Buffalo’s Department of Geography.It provides an initial overview of the current status of school food at Buffalo Public Schools and many of the ongoing school food improvement initiatives. Framed within the Good Food Purchasing Program’s core values (local economies, nutrition, labor, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare), this report documents the …

View .PDF

Planning the City of Good (and New) Neighbours: Refugees' Experiences of the Food Environment in Buffalo, New York

Alexandra Judelsohn, Aye Bay Na Sa, Hijab Khan, Rosie Devito, Roberto O. Diaz Del Carpio, Isok Kim, Heather Orom, Samina Raja — Feb 8, 2018

The United States has resettled an average of 62,000 refugees per year over the pastdecade, one-quarter of whom originate from Burma. Although refugees from Burmasometimes migrate from places lacking food-related resources, their resettlement in theUnited States, where processed foods are abundant, may have unanticipated negativedietary and health consequences. Studies suggest that refugees decrease their intake offruit and vegetables after living in the United States for a certain length of …

View .PDF

PUSH Buffalo's Green Development Zone: a Model for New Economy Community Development

Sam Magavern, Skye Hart — Jun 29, 2017

2008 marks the year that PUSH Buffalo founded the Green Development Zone in Buffalo’s West Side. Encompassing 25 square blocks, the Green Development Zone (GDZ) is an area that PUSH is making more environmentally and economically sustainable. PUSH stands for People United for Sustainable Housing, and it is a non-profit corporation that uses a unique combination of community organizing, policy advocacy, and neighborhood redevelopment.  

View Resource

Building the Blue Economy

Sam Magavern, Jen Kaminsky, Sarah Maurer — Dec 31, 2016

View Resource

Energy Poverty in Buffalo's West Side: PUSH, National Fuel, and the Fight for Equitable Energy Access

Anthony Hilbert — Jun 16, 2016

Energy poverty, the condition of households that cannot adequately heat their homes, is a chronic problem resulting from low income, high fuel prices, and poorly insulated, energy inefficient houses.  In addition to financial strain, energy poverty causes severe social and health problems for people living in under-heated homes (Boardman 1991; 2013).  Despite its seriousness and pervasiveness, energy poverty has been ignored too often in the US.  Those that suffer through energy …

View .PDF

Buffalo Niagara at the Crossroads: How State Energy Policies can Lead Western New York to a Green, Prosperous, and Just Future

Anthony Hilbert Mar 16, 2016

Buffalo Niagara stands at a climate crossroads.  Looking down one road, we can see a chance to rebuild impoverished neighborhoods with quality jobs, green affordable housing, community-owned renewable energy, urban farms, and community gardens, building on the highly successful example of the Green Development Zone on the city’s West Side.  Looking down another road, we can see an inequitable region made even more unjust and vulnerable by climate change impacts such as heat …

View .PDF

Buffalo's Proposed Unified Development Ordinance

Jessie Fisher — Mar 1, 2016

For the first time since 1954, the City of Buffalo New York is undertaking a comprehensive review and complete overhaul of its zoning code, the result of which has been popularly dubbed “the Green Code.”  The City, particularly Mayor Brown and the leadership and staff at the Office of Strategic Planning are to be commended for undertaking this important task.  While there are many positive aspects of this effort, some changes are needed in order to ensure that the final …

View .PDF

Greening the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Sam Magavern Sep 1, 2015

The Medical Campus is dedicated to improving health, and a sustainable campus will improve the health of the patients, visitors, workers, and neighbors of the campus, as well as that of the general public.  Sustainability measures such as improving energy efficiency, promoting healthy transit, and reducing waste will provide long-term cost savings, freeing up dollars for research, treatment, and education.  The Campus is well-poised to become a national model for the types of …

View .PDF

One Region Forward A New Way To Plan For Buffalo Niagara

University at Buffalo Regional Institute — Jul 20, 2015

This document represents the culmination of three years of research, community engagement, partnership building and planning under the banner of One Region Forward. Within the pages of this plan, you will find the major research findings of what the data tells us about where the region is today and expressions of thousands of citizen voices on the direction people in the region want to see Buffalo Niagara go. Proposed strategies and actions, built by a team of 100+ subject matter experts, are …

View Resource

Traffic Equity in Buffalo, New York

Sam Magavern, Daniel Cadzow — Jul 14, 2015

Traffic is not good or bad –it’s good and bad.  For example, traffic serves stores, restaurants, and cultural organizations.  However, traffic, especially vehicular traffic, also causes property damage, personal injury, pollution, illness, and premature death.  So, for example, by channeling motor vehicle traffic on expressways and major urban arterials, we are concentrating the bad in some places but also starving other areas of the good.  We need to build a …

View .PDF

Initiatives for a Stronger Community

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 31, 2015

View Resource

Recycling: an Easy Way to Save Money, Create Jobs, and Help the Environment

Catholic Care for Creation Committee of Buffalo Aug 10, 2012

The City has to pay to dispose of its garbage, but it gets paid a rebate for its recyclables.  For this reason, the City saves about $150,000 for every 3,500 tons of waste recycled, and every one percent increase in the recycling rate saves the City between $70,000 and $100,000.  That means that every time you recycle something instead of throwing it away, you’re helping to keep taxes and fees lower.

View .PDF

Recycling by Businesses Creates Jobs, Saves Energy, Reduces Pollution, and…it’s the law!

Timothy Moriarty Apr 1, 2012

In accordance with state law, the City of Buffalo requires all businesses to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and some metal.  Violations are punishable by a fine between $25 and $250, and/or imprisonment for 15 days or community service.  Many local businesses may not be aware of this law, and they may not be recycling at all, or they may be recycling only some of their recyclable materials.  It’s time to spread the word about recycling, not just because …

View .PDF

Recycling by Multi-Family Residences Creates Jobs, Saves Energy, Reduces Pollution, and…it's the law!

Timothy Moriarty Apr 1, 2012

Since 1996, in accordance with state law, the City of Buffalo has required all multi-family residences to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal.  Each complex must provide and maintain a recycling collection area, and occupants must then put their recyclables in the appropriate receptacles Violations are punishable by a fine between $25 and $250, and/or imprisonment for 15 days or community service.  Many property owners and managers may not be aware of this law, and …

View .PDF

Buffalo's Community Bicycle Workshop

Marshall Bertram — Oct 30, 2011

The “CBW” is a cooperative learning workshop that provides a facility, tools, and education to those interested in bicycles.  The workshop provides affordable bicycles and a free place to learn and thus increases bicycle awareness.  The CBW is a program of Green Options Buffalo, which promotes biking, walking, public transit, and other healthy and sustainable transportation options.  The CBW refurbishes and sells roughly 109 bicycles per year for an average of $85 a …

View .PDF

Reducing Disposable Bag Use

Rick Ahrens — Oct 30, 2011

Plastic shopping bags were introduced to the consumer market about 25 years ago.  Since then, they’ve become-literally-a ubiquitous part of the American landscape.  Every year, between 500 billion and one trillion disposable plastic shopping bags are consumed worldwide.  In the United States, 100 billion plastic bags are used each year, costing retailers $4 billion, which is passed on to the consumer in the price of goods.

View .PDF

Cooling Global Warming Through Transit

Lynn King — Mar 17, 2011

For generations, cars have been cool because they are perceived to correlate to independence and wealth.  People’s attachment to their cars is one of the most cited examples of why government doesn’t want to invest in mass transit.  Accompanying this ideology is an underlying fear and distaste for buses.  Recently, Cleveland purposely avoided such a stigma in naming its new bus line “The Health Line” and referring to it always as rapid transit.  Yet, …

View .PDF

Policies to Encourage Biking and Walking in Buffalo

Paul Fusco-Gessick — Mar 17, 2011

Despite having a climate that can make Siberia look attractive at time, Buffalo has a surprisingly large number of citizens who ride a bicycle or walk to work.  But the City and Erie County have not done much to meet this high demand.  Though there are a few streets within the City that do have marked bike lanes the vast majority do not.  A similar problem exists in the suburbs; suburban roads frequently lack sidewalks, let alone bike lanes, though bicyclists can (and do) ride on …

View .PDF

Increasing Use of Public Transit

Lynn King — Oct 27, 2010

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) provides bus and rail service to Erie and Niagara Counties.  In Erie County, this metro service is delivered via 38 interwoven bus routes and one light rail line.  Service extends out to many of Buffalo’s outer-ring suburbs but is concentrated within City limits and runs most frequently during peak hours.  The NFTA also provides special transit service to disabled riders, riders attending special events, and metro pass …

View .PDF

Food Environment, Built Environment, and Women's BMI: Evidence from Erie County, New York

Changxing Ma, Pavan Yadav, Li Yin, James Roemmich, Leonard Epstein, Alex Ticoalu, Samina Raja — Apr 20, 2010

The authors present the results of a neighborhood-scaled exploratory study that tests the association of the food environment and the built environment with women’s body mass index (BMI) in Erie County, New York.  The proximity of women’s homes to a supermarket relative to a convenience store is associated with lower BMI.  A diverse land use mix in a neighborhood is positively associated with women’s BMI, especially when restaurants dominate nonresidential land …

View .PDF

Greening Buffalo: What Local Governments Can Do

Sam Magavern — May 2, 2008

Almost every city in the Unites States is undertaking a significant green initiative.  Policy makers, advocates, and citizens are realizing that the future of cities lies in sustainability, and that the future of the environment depends on urban policy.

View .PDF

Greening the Richardson Complex

Sam Magavern Feb 25, 2008

One of the Platform’s planks calls on Buffalo to meet the commitment it made under the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce its carbon emissions.  Buildings are the single largest source of carbon emissions in Buffalo, due to the carbon released in the processes of heating them, cooling them, and providing them with electricity.  The renovation of a large, old complex such as the Richardson Complex offers an important opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and aid …

View .PDF

Position Statement on Route Five and the Peace Bridge

Sam Magavern Feb 19, 2008

The Partnership for the Public Good rejects the Department of Transportation, the Public Bridge Authority, and the Federal Highway Administration's 'preferred alternatives', in favor of the community's preferred alternatives for Peace Bridge expansion and Route Five reconstruction.  In the Route Five and Peace Bridge projects, Buffalo has within its reach two opportunities to reinvigorate our waterfront and create real wealth and opportunity for existing and future residents and …

View .PDF

Regionalism Revisited: The Effort to Streamline Governance in Buffalo and Erie County, New York

Craig Bucki — Jan 16, 2008

During the first half of the twentieth century, burgeoning grain transshipment trade and heavy manufacturing spurred the bustling economy of Buffalo, the eastern-most port on the shores of Lake Erie and the second-largest city in the State of New York.  With the jobs that these industries provided came residents to occupy them.  In the 1900 census, Buffalo ranked as the eighth-largest city in the United States, with a population of over 350,000.  By 1950, Buffalo could claim over …

View .PDF

Beyond Food Deserts: Measuring and Mapping Racial Disparities in Neighborhood Food Environments

Changxing Ma, Pavan Yadav, Samina Raja — Jan 1, 2008

Given the emerging focus on improving food environments and food systems through planning, this article investigates racial disparities in neighborhood food environments.  An empirical case of Erie County, New York tests the hypothesis that people belonging to different racial groups have access to different neighborhood food destinations.  Using multiple methods—Gini coefficients and Poisson regression—we show that contrary to studies elsewhere in the country there are no …

View .PDF

A Proposal to Create the Buffalo Green Land Bank

Robert Quinn — Dec 4, 2007

For many years the city of Buffalo has had far more housing units than households.  Buffalo has experienced a precipitous population decline over the past fifty years.  From 580,000 in 1950, Buffalo residents declined to 462,000 by 1970.  In 2006, the population had dropped to 276,059.  This flight from the city, a product of both suburbanization and the decline of the Rust Belt, has resulted in numerous vacant properties.  With a weak housing market and continued …

View .PDF

Green Infrastructure Can Combat Combined Sewer Overflows

Robert Quinn Dec 4, 2007

Every year millions of gallons of raw sewage are dumped directly into our local waterways here in Buffalo, NY.  Combined sewer overflows (or CSO’s) are the cause of this environmental and human health hazard, and they occur an average of 68 times per year, whenever we have heavy rain or snow.  Currently the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) is negotiating with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency …

View .PDF

Is a Green Building an Energy Efficient Building?

Steven Mindy — Nov 27, 2007

Is a “green building” an energy efficient building? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “not necessarily.”  As the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) notes, green building rating systems are flexible, and buildings with poor energy efficiency may be certified “green.”  Accordingly, how do green rating systems address energy efficiency and what rating system is best suited to controlling operating costs in affordable …

View .PDF

Methane and Cogeneration Technology: Renewable Energy Opportunities for Erie County Wastewater Treatment Plants

Priscilla Hampton — Nov 27, 2007

This proposal encourages the Erie County Division of Sewerage Management and the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) to explore opportunities to invest in combined heat and power technology at their wastewater treatment facilities.  As energy costs continue to rise, use of methane-fueled CHP systems will become more and more cost-effective.  Furthermore, facilities will increase energy efficiency, utilize renewable biofuels, decrease utility costs over time, and limit our dependence on …

View .PDF

Local Advantage in a Global Era: Making Local Procurement Work for New York

Amy Kedron — Nov 13, 2007

Around the country municipalities have enacted local procurement preference laws, which give a competitive advantage to local firms bidding on public contracts.  Much of this legislation has been informed by a broader “local first” movement.  Those in this movement champion the many benefits of conducting business on a small local scale.

View .PDF

Weatherization: A Step Towards Green Cities

Rebecca Town — Nov 1, 2007

Home heating is a basic necessity that comes at a very high cost, particularly for residents in the city of Buffalo.  Weatherization is an efficient and affordable method for reducing energy costs by increasing home energy efficiency.  Existing buildings are renovated to increase energy efficiency and decrease energy consumption.  Promotion of weatherization programs provides the City with an essential opportunity to financially empower its most vulnerable residents, who are the …

View .PDF

PUSH Buffalo's Community Housing Co-operative: A Case Study in Green Building Rehabilitation

Mary O'Donnell — Apr 19, 2007

Between March 2006 and March 2007, a group of community organizers at People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) used green building methods to create affordable, safe, and sustainable housing by rehabilitating a formerly abandoned four unit building on Buffalo’s West Side.  Organizations and agencies involved in affordable housing can learn from PUSH’s example and should replicate or support similar projects because greener and more affordable housing will benefit the …

View .PDF

Weatherization Assistance and Low-Income Households

Constance Giessert — Apr 19, 2007

Weatherization is one of the most efficient affordable housing tools available to communities and residents.  Weatherization is defined as the practice of protecting a building from the elements (such as sunlight, precipitation and wind) and modifying the building to reduce energy consumption and maximize energy efficiency.  Traditionally, weatherization processes have focused on heating and cooling as methods to conserve energy.  Currently, however, weatherization is expanding …

View .PDF

Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part I)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

View .PDF

Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part II)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

View .PDF

Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part III)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

View .PDF

Home Energy Conservation: Affordable Housing and the Environment

Katie Woodruff — Apr 1, 2007

For low-income homeowners and renters, paying the utility bills every month can become a struggle.  Even with assistance from programs such as Erie County Social Services HEAP program, many find paying those bills takes up a large portion of one’s income, decreasing funds available for other necessities.  Finding inexpensive ways to decrease utility bills can save money that could be better used elsewhere.  One way to reduce utility bills is to conserve energy.  Not …

View .PDF

The Potential of Deconstruction in Buffalo, New York

Erik Faleski — Apr 1, 2007

Building deconstruction is not a novel idea but represents an ancient practice reinvented for our modern era.  Deconstruction is an environmentally friendly (yet fiscally remunerative) alternative to traditional building demolition.  Deconstruction is: [t]he process of carefully dismantling a building in order to salvage components for reuse and recycling.  Typically, a small team of skilled and licensed professionals disassemble the structure, setting aside the valuable …

View .PDF

A Growing City: Hydroponic Farming in Buffalo

Cristen Manning — Jan 1, 2007

The City of Buffalo is need of revitalization. Vacant lots, a declining economy, widespread poverty, and a lack of employment opportunities are just a few of the issues that the City needs to address.  The City should consider implementing innovative policies, such as investing in and operating a hydroponic urban farm.  Hydroponic farming is highly productive and requires a fraction of the resources of traditional farming.  Although hydroponic farms are expensive to get started, …

View .PDF

Don't Pay for your Neighbors' Garbage

Ryan Haggerty — Jan 1, 2007

The opportunities and benefits of recycling are under used in the City of Buffalo.  The city currently achieves a meager 7% diversion rate.  The rest of Erie County achieves a 42% diversion rate.  Clearly, a great deal of recyclable content is included in city household garbage.  Buffalo pays about $42 per ton of garbage it “tips” and it receives about $10 per ton of recyclable content it redeems.  Every ton of waste that households can divert from garbage …

View .PDF

Integrating Deconstruction and Recycling Into the Demolition Process in Buffalo, NY

Tara Stahl — Jan 1, 2007

Buffalo’s Comprehensive Plan currently calls for the demolition of 10,000 buildings over a period of ten years.  While demolition contractors may recycle a small percentage of the waste created from demolitions, the process generates a great deal of waste that ends up in landfills.  Many of the materials that are thrown away after a building is demolished are either reusable or recyclable.  In order to lessen the negative environmental impact of building demolition, Buffalo …

View .PDF

Residential Deconstruction in Buffalo: A Viable Alternative to Demolition

Sean Cooney — Jan 1, 2007

The problem of vacancy and abandonment manifests itself in many different ways.  Whether it is crime, decreasing property values, loss of tax revenue, neighborhood eyesores, or removing the condemned structures, the City of Buffalo is facing a monumental challenge both in resources and policy.  The deconstruction of abandoned homes offers opportunities for cost savings, environmental benefits, and economic development.  An alternative to demolition, deconstruction is the …

View .PDF

Sustainable Roofs for Buffalo Schools

Andrew Zemrac — Jan 1, 2007

The Buffalo public school system, currently in the midst of a ten year, 1.1 billion dollar reconstruction project, has a unique opportunity to create sustainable, high performance schools.  Instead, the Joint Schools Construction Board has apparently decided to take a more conservative approach to the renovation plan, incorporating commendable, but limited initiatives such as updates to windows, lighting systems, heating systems, and exterior weatherization improvements.  This myopic …

View .PDF

At Taxpayers' Expense

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara — Oct 1, 2006

Planning and managing growth are fundamental responsibilities of any local government.  It should be recognized that sprawling development can actually be more costly in the long run, not only to a particular municipality but also to those around it that may be affected by its decisions.  Inter-municipal collaboration could curb costs and prevent actions that are detrimental to neighboring communities.  These are complex issues, and sprawl is just one of several components …

View .PDF

Framework for Regional Growth

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara Oct 1, 2006

The absence of a region-wide vision for conservation, development, and public investment has become an increasingly central concern of the Region’s leaders.  For the past two to three decades—the last regional plan was completed in 1974—local and regional actions have occurred without the benefit of reference to a larger policy or planning framework.  Important decisions regarding the location and pace of development, investments in economic development, the …

View .PDF

Left Behind: How Difficulties with Transportation are a Roadblock to Self-Sufficiency

Homeless Alliance of Western New York — Sep 1, 2006

The Transportation Task Force, a project of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, completed a transportation needs assessment among homeless and very low-income persons at sites around Erie County.  The assessment was in survey form and was administered to approximately 800 people over a 5-day period.  From earlier focus groups with homeless individuals and the workers who directly serve them, the Task Force found that problems with affording public transportation and with …

View .PDF

Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities Asset Management Project

Rolf Pendall, Matthew Drennan, Susan Christopherson Jan 1, 2004

The purpose of the Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities Asset Management Project (Project) is to develop recommendations for the sustainable, economical and productive conservation, development and management of vacant land, buildings and facilities throughout the City of Buffalo.  The Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities report is a product of an effort designed to provide an overview of an array of related subjects and issues deemed important by Project participants.  The results …

View .PDF

Sprawl Without Growth: The Upstate Paradox

Rolf Pendall — Oct 1, 2003

People throughout the world place a strong value on the landscape, natural environment, and compact settlement pattern of Upstate New York.  The Adirondack and Catskill mountains, the Finger Lakes, the Lake Ontario shoreline, Lake Champlain, and the Thousand Islands attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.  At the scale of the entire landscape, farms and forests define the edges of Upstate’s cities, villages, and hamlets and form a distinctive matrix of land …

View .PDF

The Health Status of the Near East Side Black Community: A Study of the Wellness and Neighborhood Conditions Buffalo, New York

Center for Urban Studies, UB, The Black Leadership Forum, UB Center for Research in Primary Care — Jul 26, 2000

The purpose of this study is to gain insight into black community wellness by examining a number of health, social, economic, cultural, and lifestyle issues that affect the health status of Buffalo’s Near East Side black community.

View Resource