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Turn Off the Lights
March 29, 2012
As part of Earth Hour, GW will take a stand against climate change.
GW’s Office of Sustainability is asking GW students, faculty and staff to turn off their lights on Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. in honor of Earth Hour.
Organized by the World Wildlife Federation, Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney when 2.2 million people and more than 2,000 businesses turned off their lights for an hour to raise awareness about environmental sustainability. Today, Earth Hour has become a global movement with more than 135 countries and territories participating.
This is GW’s fourth year participating in Earth Hour.
“Earth Hour is a great way for the GW community to show its commitment to sustainability,” said Meghan Chapple-Brown, director of GW’s Office of Sustainability. “While turning off lights for an hour may seem like a small action, it sends a strong signal to the global community that we care about the well-being of our planet. Small actions can lead to big results, and we encourage the GW community to think of every day as Earth Hour.”
GW is asking faculty and staff to turn off the lights in their classrooms and offices before leaving on Friday. Student eco-representatives will be visiting each residence hall Saturday evening asking students to turn off their lights. Lights in many academic spaces, University Yard, parts of the Marvin Center, the Mount Vernon Campus and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus will be turned off. While CGI U is taking place on campus, the Charles E. Smith Center has committed to turning off as many outside lights as is feasible at the conclusion of the event. President Steven Knapp will also be participating by turning off lights in the F Street House.
Around the world, iconic buildings will participate in the movement including the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and the Golden Gate Bridge. This year’s theme for the global Earth Hour is alternative green energy sources.
“I think it is important that GW stands up alongside states, cities, individuals and other schools each year reconfirming our commitment to long-term energy reduction,” said Samantha McGovern, project coordinator for facilities in GW’s Division of Operations. “Students, faculty and staff can extend Earth Hour throughout the year by making sure to turn off lights not only in their rooms but also when they leave classrooms, conference rooms and office spaces.”
Kelsey Desmond, a GW freshman and Thurston Hall eco-rep, is trying to get as many of her peers to participate in Earth Hour as possible.
“If millions or even billions of people turn off their lights even for an hour, that’s millions and billions of tons of carbon dioxide we prevent from being released into our already polluted atmosphere,” she said.
Ms. Desmond said she hopes Earth Hour gets more GW students interested in sustainability and learning ways to lessen their carbon footprint.
Green GW, a student organization, will be hosting an earth hour celebration with activities including jump rope and light-up frisbee on Saturday from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Square 80. The first 100 guests will receive a free Georgetown cupcake, and a free yoga class will be offered at 8:30 p.m.
Andy Ludwig, energy and environmental project coordinator in GW’s Facilities Services, said Earth Hour is a perfect way to kick off an entire month’s worth of sustainability-oriented events in April in honor of Earth Day, which falls on April 22.
“Turning off lights for an hour offers the opportunity to reflect on our world’s reliance on electricity and how to foster an ethic of conservation,” said Mr. Ludwig.
On April 17, GW will host a symposium called GW Moving the Planet Forward: Turning Innovation into Action as part of the Planet Forward series. Panel discussions will center around renewable energy, the role of cities as incubators for clean technology and how certain businesses are leading the way in environmental policies. Speakers include Mayor Vincent Gray; Tommy Battle, the mayor of Huntsville, Ala.; Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. chief technology officer; and Mark L. Vachon, vice president of GE Ecomagination. To register for the event, click here. GW will also be hosting an Earth Day celebration on April 20 where it plans to announce new commitments around its environmental sustainability goals.