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Sierra Club recognizes award recipients for their environmental efforts

A green upgrade to the power system in the Buffalo Public Schools earned a trio of men a top award Thursday from the Sierra Club’s Niagara Group at the organization’s annual awards dinner.

Paul McDonnell, Jason McCarthy and Richard Steinberg were tapped with the Blake Reeves Award for Leadership from the group for their work to install solar panels in about 20 of the city’s school buildings.

It was the second award of the week for McDonnell, the facilities director at the Buffalo Public Schools who led a $1.4 billion school reconstruction program. McDonnell won the Nelson Rockefeller Award for public sector architects on Monday from the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

McDonnell told the Sierra Club the project came with no capital costs to the district with assurance the district would be charged the same price for electricity for the next 20 years.

“We’re going to be reducing our carbon footprint, and it’s a great educational opportunity for our kids,” McDonnell said.

McCarthy is the North District member of the Buffalo School Board and Steinberg is a Sierra Club member.

The Blake Reeves Award was named in honor of the founder of the local Sierra Club chapter.

The other award Thursday went to Charley Bowman of the Renewable Energy Task Force and the Western New York Peace Center.

Bowman holds a doctorate in biology from the State University of New York at Albany. He taught at the University at Buffalo for 27 years as a science professor. He was awarded the Bruce Kershner Conservation Award for “leadership in working with many climate change issues and his concerns for justice and peace being central to the mission of climate justice,” according to the Sierra Club.