This past weekend on March 31st at 8:30pm, millions of people from around the world turned off all their lights and electrical devices for one hour to show their support for Earth Hour.
If you haven’t heard about Earth Hour, here’s the 411: It was started in Australia in 2007, grew to include 150 countries and is the world’s largest environmental event to date. It is held on the last Saturday of March from 8:30pm to 9:30pm within the local time zone of the participating country.
Personally, I think we need to go beyond an hour, as Earth Hour should not happen only once a year, rather, it should be practised each and every day.
We have all heard the various stats about the effects of our large energy and electricy consumption, but what are we actually doing about it?
Here in North America, electricity is something we take for granted. We have the bad habit of leaving our lights on, television on and so much more without a care in the world. Residences count for a large portion of the world’s carbon footprint; however, commercial buildings are even worse. As I drive home from Toronto to Hamilton each and every day, I see dozens of commercial office buildings with their lights on after everyone leaves the office. I know some might be thinking that custodians/cleaners may be working after hours, but even still, once the cleaners leave the building, the lights are left on and electricity is wasted.
In Europe, the price of electricity and energy in general is so high, they are forced to be as energy-efficient as possible and do everything in their power to save, save, save! Even as you read this, depending on the time of the day and where you are located, it is probable that you are using a means of artificial lighting, whereas in certain parts of Europe they are benefiting from the light of a natural source instead: the sun!
There are so many benefits of utilizing natural daylight – from increased productivity, to better moods and even health benefits. If not already doing so, stakeholders (architects, designers, building owners, occupants etc.) need to embrace techniques from passive solar design, use daylight harvesting products (eg. Architectural Blinds) or even simply shut off the lights when natural light is present. We all need to start taking these simple but beneficial measures to heart if we want buildings to not only become energy-efficient but great for the planet as well.
So today, and why not for the next week, or month or year, go beyond the hour!
Use natural daylight in your home or building as much as you can!
For More Information On Earth Hour, please visit: