Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Turn It Off Georgia for Earth Hour March 28

On Saturday, March 28, Gerogia Tech has committed to join more than 1,700 cities and towns, 5,000 organizations and 18,000 business in 80 countries to save energy.

Started by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007, the Earth Hour initiative seeks participants from across the globe to turn off their lights and other electrical appliances on March 28 from 8:30 to 9:30PM

“We see ourselves as a leader in sustainability, and this is an opportunity for us to be at the forefront and inspire other institutions to join the cause,” said Howard Wertheimer, director of Capital Planning & Space Management. “There is becoming enough critical mass out there.”

After participating in the event last year, Tech was solicited to become a Flagship campus, according to Wertheimer. By signing on, the Institute has agreed to “turn out, take action” by creating a board of students and faculty to plan Earth Hour events; encourage that non-essential campus lights be dimmed; promote climate-conscious decisions campus-wide; encourage student communications with policy makers; and report back to the WWF Earth Hour Team with campus plans.

Wertheimer stated that some data reported by Facilities last year suggested a 4 percent reduction in energy use—not an insignificant number for a Institute of this size.

As students on campus will be asked to darken their residence halls, Wertheimer encourages the entire community to participate, even though Earth Hour is on a Saturday. “Faculty and staff members can turn off their office lights, shut down their computers and unplug their microwaves and clock radios that Friday as they leave for the weekend,” he said.

Tech joins Atlanta, an Earth Hour Flagship City. The Georgia Tech Freshman Council, partnering with the Atlanta Mayor’s Office and City Council, will hold an Earth Hour party at the Campanile. Live music, free food and glowing candles, Atlanta District 2 Commissioner Kwanza Hall is scheduled to attend the event.

“It’s exciting for me, as Tech’s city councilman, to rally students in particular around Earth Hour,” Hall said. “We’re planning low-tech fun for the Campanile—the kind that leaves a small carbon footprint while generating long-lasting memories.”

For the future, Wertheimer said he sees the partnership with Atlanta growing out from just the city council and mayor’s office. “We have the opportunity to inspire people to make a cultural shift,” he said.

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