Contact: Barbara Buffaloe
Office of Sustainability
Citizens are encouraged to turn off lights and non-essential electricity in homes and buildings to take part in a symbolic "wave of darkness" from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29. This year's Earth Hour is the seventh 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 23, 2013, 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. MU will turn off several landmarks, including the Jesse Hall dome, the Columns on Frances Quadrangle, and the Eighth Street Circle.
A kickoff event to celebrate Earth Hour will take place at City Hall from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20. 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. Representatives from the University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College will also discuss their efforts to go "beyond the hour."
In addition to a reduction in electricity used, Columbians can go "beyond the hour" by using public transit for their commute. Columbia Transit will participate in Earth Hour by offering free rides on Thursday, March 20, in honor of the kickoff, and Saturday, March 29. 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 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. Citizens and businesses are also encouraged to show how they are going "beyond the hour" by tweeting CoMoEarthHour and posting to the events' Facebook pages. 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."