UBC Spends Weekend in the Dark for Earth Hour: Follow Conservation Efforts Online

This weekend, UBC is encouraging all departments to turn off all non-essential electrical systems in support of Earth Hour, a World Wildlife Fund global program designed to address climate change.

As part of the university’s Earth Hour participation, UBC is partnering with Vancouver energy management software company Small Energy Group to track electricity usage in campus buildings and show real-time greenhouse gas emissions savings at http://earthhour.smallenergygroup.com.

“Our participation in Earth Hour is one of many green initiatives that have made UBC an international leader in campus sustainability,” says Orion Henderson, Associate Director, Climate and Energy, UBC Sustainability Office, who notes that UBC is Canada’s first and only university to receive Green Campus Recognition from the U.S.-based National Wildlife Federation.

“In effect, we are expanding Earth Hour to Earth weekend,” Henderson adds. “From Friday evening to Monday morning, many UBC students, staff and faculty will be unplugging non-essential electrical systems, such as computers, monitors, printers, photocopiers, lighting and portable heaters.”

UBC’s partnership with Small Energy Group is part of a pilot project tracking electricity, steam and water consumption of five campus buildings using software and meters: Koerner Library, the Fred Kaiser Building, Buchanan Tower, Frank Forward Building and C.K. Choi Building, one several award-winning green buildings at UBC’s Vancouver campus.

The monitoring project is made possible by energy-monitoring meters installed in 80 campus buildings during UBC Vancouver’s recently completed five-year ECOtrek project, the largest campus energy-retrofit program in Canada. For the Earth Hour initiative, UBC will track electricity consumption in approx. 300 buildings.

“Since 2001, UBC has significantly reduced core campus energy and water use, saving $2.6 million annually,” says Henderson. “We are excited to see what more can be done through behavioural change events like Earth Hour.”

Earth Hour is an international “lights out” event on Saturday, March 29 from 8 – 9 p.m. Its goal is to get individuals and organizations to turn off lights for one hour to raise awareness about climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Earth Hour has grown from a single event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to a global phenomenon that will occur across six continents and as many as 20 cities in 2008.

For more information on green initiatives at UBC, visit www.sustain.ubc.ca. For more information on Small Energy Group, visit www.smallenergygroup.com.

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