NEWS

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March 10, 2008

U of C joins Chicago colleges in conservation effort

Student Government (SG) voted to support the global conservation effort known as Earth Hour at a meeting of the Coalition of Chicago Colleges (CCC) last Thursday. Earth Hour challenges participants to refrain from using electric lights for one hour and will occur worldwide on March 29 from 8 -9 p.m.

Eight of the nine CCC member schools voted to support Earth Hour, which was first held in Sydney, Australia, last year. According to the Earth Hour website, last year’s event led to a 10.2-percent drop in energy use, inspiring a similar effort on a global scale.

Earth Hour has been a particular priority for the student governments of CCC member schools Columbia College and DePaul University.

“The Sustainability Council and Student Government unanimously passed a resolution supporting this and have signed our school up on the website to pledge our support,” said second-year College Council representative Jarrod Wolf.

Because the event will occur over the University’s spring break, graduate students and students staying in Shoreland Hall are encouraged to participate in citywide Earth Hour events, Wolf said.

“DePaul will be holding a candlelight vigil for any students around the city who would like to attend,” Wolf said. “Columbia will be turning off most of its lights. [Illinois Institute of Technology] may turn off its light on the highway.”

Chicago businesses have also been encouraged to participate in the event. Privately owned buildings such as the Merchandise Mart, Sears Tower, and the John Hancock Center will also go dark between 8 and 9 p.m., according to the Associated Press.

Lighting needed for security will not go off, Wolf said.

“Essential lighting and emergency lighting and street lights will stay on,” he said. “ComEd is a sponsor of this and will make sure the lights will go off safely, and the police have also been alerted.”

Non-essential lighting, however, will be identified and switched off.

“We’re currently working with the utilities- and energy-management part of the administration to decide which lighting can be turned off,” Wolf said.

According to the Earth Hour website, the effort has garnered the pledges of more than 95,000 individual participants and more than 5,000 businesses worldwide. The United States, with Chicago as its flagship city, has the second-largest number of pledges with 24,674 participants. Canada, with 26,677, has the most.