Contact: Barbara Buffaloe
Office of Sustainability
Columbia Climate Change Coalition
Citizens are encouraged to turn off lights and non-essential electricity in homes and buildings to take part in a symbolic "wave of darkness" Saturday, March 23, from 8:30-9:30 p.m. This year's Earth Hour is the sixth annual, international, voluntary darkening. Columbia began participating in 2008 under the direction of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition. Last year's event resulted in a significant drop in electricity usage for the city. Columbia Water & Light estimated that the electric load from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on March 31, 2012, resulted in a 2 megawatt drop in Columbia's electric load. The 2 megawatts of electricity is equivalent to the amount of power used by 80 homes in Columbia in an average day.
Several landmarks around town will turn off their lights in observance of Earth Hour. This year, the University of Missouri (MU) campus will observe the event on Thursday, March 21, to include students before spring break. MU will turn off several landmarks, including the Jesse Hall dome, the Columns on Frances Quadrangle and the Eighth street circle. Visit the MU Environmental Leadership Office website, environmentalleadership.missouri.edu, for additional activities taking place on campus.
A kickoff event will take place at City Hall to celebrate Earth Hour from 12-1 p.m. on Thursday, March 21. The mayor's proclamation will be read by Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Hoppe, Earth Hour activities will be announced by participating agencies and there will be a tour of City Hall's sustainable features.
In addition to a reduction in electricity used, Columbians can decrease their impact on the environment by using public transit for their commute. Columbia Transit will participate in Earth Hour by offering free rides on Thursday, in honor of the kickoff and MU events, and Saturday. Route and schedule information can be found by visiting www.GoColumbiaMo.com and searching "bus". If Columbians need help planning their earth-friendly commute, they can call 573-874-7282.
Being kind to the environment while using public transit means Columbians can help themselves as well. Public transit increases daily physical activity and provides mobility to access health care, employment and education, all of which have an influence on health. Transit users are more likely to meet daily physical activity recommendations (20-30 minutes/day) just by walking to and from transit stops. Additionally, transit riders generally report less commuting stress than automobile commuters.
Columbians are encouraged to let the Office of Sustainability know what they are doing to celebrate Earth Hour by emailing Sustainability Manager Barbara Buffaloe at BaBuffal@GoColumbiaMo.com. For more information about this global event, visit www.earthhour.org. For more information about the local event, visit www.GoColumbiaMo.com or www.columbiaclimatechangecoalition.org/ and search "Earth Hour."