Adam K. Rizzo ’03

Photo: Buffalo Business First

For Adam Rizzo ’03, renewable energy is more than an environmental issue – it’s a matter of human development.

Of the Earth’s 7 billion people, Adam K. Rizzo ’03 points out, more than 2 billion have no access to electricity. That, he says, is why renewable energy is more than an environmental issue – it’s a matter of human development.

Rizzo brought that commitment to UB expecting to practice environmental law. But in classes and internships, he became interested in solar power. After graduation he did practice law for a couple of years, but he had a side project with his brother, a little company that supplied solar panels, especially to the German market. They sold on eBay and financed the business on their credit cards.

Now that company, Solar Liberty, which Rizzo founded with his brother, is a fast-growing installer of solar electric systems with 75 employees.

They also created the Solar Liberty Foundation, headed by sister Paige L. Mecca ’99, which provides solar energy systems and solar cookers to people in rural areas of developing nations, such as Haiti and Tanzania. Even replacing air-fouling kerosene lanterns and installing solar lighting so kids can do their homework at night can change lives.

“Everything in business seems to revolve around contracts and contractual issues,” Rizzo says. “My law background comes into use every day.” There’s also IP law to deal with; Rizzo’s brother, Nathan, has patents pending for a solar panel mounting system called DynoRaxx.

“I like to think that the business is helping improve the world and the people in it,” Adam Rizzo says. “Instead of producing electricity from coal or natural gas, we’re producing it with the sun; it’s nonpolluting, and it’s there for us to use. I like to think that we help to improve the families of those whom we employ, and all the vendors we work with, as well as our customers. It feels great to be able to eliminate a customer’s electric bill from their yearly budget.”