Earth Hour puts municipalities in the dark
Lights will wink out and candles will be lit around the globe on Saturday night as Earth Hour takes place from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
In 2012, some 7,000 cities in 152 countries took part in the campaign, which has become the largest voluntary action for the environment.
An estimated 10 million Canadians turned out their lights in an hour of energy conservation last year.
People should notice a difference around Maple Ridge.
Alexandra Tudose, a district research technician, has been contacting businesses and organizations to ask that they reduce energy consumption wherever possible.
She and district facilities manager Michael Millward are have been looking at where the district can cut power.
“I want to make sure that we walk the talk,” she said.
Laura Benson, the district’s manager of sustainability and corporate planning, said everything that can be shut down will be.
“There will be a difference at Memorial Peace Park. People will definitely see that it looks different than in normally does,” she said, adding that the sign at the Leisure Centre will be shut off, and Christmas lights in the park will be out.
She said the district has been working with B.C. Hydro for the past three years on energy savings. It has done an energy retrofit of the Leisure Centre, adding high efficiency condensing boilers, solar panels on the roof and a heat recovery system in the building. Greenhouse gas emissions were cut in half.
Fire hall No. 1 has a geo-exchange ground source heating and cooling system.
In general, the district looks at its own facilities and how they can run more efficiently.
“Our approach is to demonstrate through action, not tell people what they should do,” said Benson. “Every facility is being contacted for Earth Hour, to make sure they’re doing what they can.”
In Maple Ridge last year, the energy saving was enough to power 39 homes for a day. While that is significant, the most important aspect of Earth Hour is the message it sends.
“That’s what I like about Earth Hour – it’s not about what you save in that hour, it’s the awareness and prompting people to think about ‘What change can I do right now.’”
In 2011, Pitt Meadows was an Earth Hour leader, with a whopping 5.7 per cent reduction.
Last year there was an Earth Hour parade, and the 2.4 per cent reduction was still the third-best drop in the Lower Mainland.
This year, Earth Hour will be one event in a month of environmental advocacy in Pitt Meadows.
The city is offering a speaker series, which begins Monday night.
The first of the Earth Talks will feature the E-Racing team, a group of UBC student developing an electrically-powered racing car, at 7 p.m. at the Meadows Room.
There will be a second talk, Adopt-a-Stream, Adopt-a-Slough, on April 15 at the Heron Room at 7 p.m.,
The final presentation will be May 6 at 7 p.m. in the Meadows Room, on the topic of Waste Diversion – What Residents in Pitt Meadows are Doing.
Pitt Meadows is also organizing the Going Green awards to recognize businesses and organizations that protect the environment. The deadline for nominations is April 2 at 3 p.m., and winners will be showcased on Earth Day, April 22.
Pitt Meadows sustainability coordinator Anika Steblin said the municipality has been an Earth Hour leader, and “hopefully that will continue this year.”
“People are interested in little actions that can make a big difference over time.”