Members of the University community joined cities worldwide during Earth Hour Saturday night in an effort to cut down energy consumption and expand alertness for the need of a more energy-conscious society.
Earth Hour, which took place from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., encouraged people in thousands of cities around the world to turn off their lights in designated areas. GW participated in shutting off power in numerous buildings throughout the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses.
Sophie Waskow, stakeholder engagement coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, said the University’s role in the event was very important, adding the University was “working to ensure that the maximum number of lights [were] turned off without comprising the safety of our community,” Waskow said.
The Office of Sustainability worked alongside Facilities Management in determining which University buildings could have their power shut off during this hour. Waskow said the focus was on “larger buildings with the biggest number of lights, as well as common spaces.”
“Do it in the Dark” was the slogan for the numerous activities that took place in residence halls and other campus locations as a way of raising awareness of becoming more responsible energy consumers.
Residential Advisory Councils from a handful of residence halls organized events for students to enjoy while participating in this drive for a healthier planet. The residence hall with the greatest percentage of lights off during Earth Hour would win the contest for conserving the most energy during the hour. RACs from each hall photographed their respective buildings from all sides to show the number of rooms with lights off. The winners will be announced throughout the week after the Office of Sustainability reviews the pictures.
Students in Munson Hall organized a movie-watching party in the dark, and the Marvin Center hosted the Battle of the Bands concert and other music shows, which, for the most part, occurred in the dark.
Freshman Aviv Becher participated in one of the black-out parties, and was convinced Earth Hour accomplished a lot more than a mere 60 minutes of energy savings.
“Some people are less aware than others about saving energy, so events like these encourage them to start thinking about it. I do my part by turning off all lights and disconnecting phone chargers whenever possible,” she said.
Saturday’s Earth Hour is the second consecutive year the University participated in this global event, which also marks the beginning of Earth Month. The Office of Sustainability has an array of events similar to Earth Hour planned throughout the month of April. GW and Gaulladet were the only two universities in D.C. to officially participate in Earth Hour, Waskow said.
Some students who took part in Earth Hour’s activities were convinced that events like these are the ideal way to get others to become energy conscious, thus transforming energy-consumer communities which are often neglectful of their environmental impact. Freshman Alexandra Cerquone said, “Earth Hour is a very efficient awareness event that does in fact work.”
As more people start to support the event and Earth Hour acquires more recognition, “this will show how every little effort sums up in the end,” Cerquone said.
This article appeared in the March 29, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.