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City of Airdrie and local business to celebrate Earth Hour on March 29

By: By Jessica Patterson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 10:53 am

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Across Airdrie, homes, businesses and schools will be going dark for Earth Hour March 29, and some businesses are even celebrating the event with activities specifically designed for the dark.

Earth Hour, a grassroots global initiative that began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, sees cities across the globe plunge into darkness for an hour each year.

At Airdrie Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery, the lights will be turned off from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., but the music will be cranked up, as the coffee shop will be hosting a candle-lit acoustic concert with local rock/pop musicians Colin and Allen de Jong.

Earth Hour made sense for Good Earth, said Owner Beckie Diebolt.

“It fits with the Good Earth model, and it’s a great way to get people out of the dark in their own houses, to listen to some great acoustic music and show a strong message for action on climate change.”

This is the third year that Good Earth in Airdrie has celebrated Earth Hour. A portion of proceeds from Good Earth’s sales during Earth Hour will be donated to The Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC), a land conservation organization working to protect natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain.

“It’s continuing our tradition in the community,” Diebolt said, adding that the event will kick off a Saturday evening live music series for the next month. “For me, personally, Earth Hour is important because it’s a worldwide event that creates awareness for climate change. There are so many cities and countries that take part in this, to even shut off our lights for a little bit, helps bring awareness.”

Across the world, major landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Burj Khalifa and the Empire State Building dim their lights to promote energy conservation. Now in its eighth year, Earth Hour, which is organized by the World Wildlife Fund, mobilizes millions of people to engage with different environmental priorities.

The City of Airdrie is also amping up its green initiatives, said Lynda Phelan, team leader for Corporate Communications.

“We are always supportive of raising awareness of environmental issues,” she said in an email. “There may be movements in the community that are supporting Earth Hour and we encourage residents to take part and show their support for the environment.”

Beyond Earth Hour, the City of Airdrie has a number of green initiatives that run through out the year and has been working to ‘green up’ its office spaces, infrastructure and recycling.

At City Hall, occupancy sensors detect movement and turn the lights off if no one is in the space, Phelan said.

“We have retrofitted light bulbs throughout the building using high-efficiency bulbs,” she said. “This year we are doing an energy audit in three of our other buildings to see what we can do to capitalize on savings through environmental fittings.”

Airdrie also practices organics and regular recycling in all City buildings, Phelan said.

“The paperless council agendas instituted in 2012 have saved 210,000 sheets of paper to-date; equal to 750 bathtubs of water for making the paper; $3500 savings on paper and photocopying costs, and 25 trees.”

Last year, Airdrie reduced its electricity consumption by 4.6 per cent, or the equivalent of running 105,133 15-watt CFL light bulbs or 1,752 homes for one hour, according to FortisAlberta.

CrossIron Mills mall

At CrossIron Mills mall in Balzac, shoppers may notice dimmer lights in some stores, and Bullfrog Power will be on site to educate shoppers about renewable energy options. Bullfrog Power is a clean energy company, that generates power through wind-generation. Twenty per cent of CrossIron Mills runs on green energy, said Josephine Coombe, vice president of marketing.

"This year, we're taking the average electricity usage of all of the households in Calgary and Airdrie and putting that much renewable energy onto the grid, to match the amount that would be used for Earth Hour."

The mall will be purchasing enough green energy from Bullfrog Power, almost the equivalent of 500,000 households, Coombe said.

"We'll be putting that amount on the grid, to Bullfrog Power the equivalent of every household in those two cities."

Last year, Calgary didn’t save any energy as compared to normal consumption, according to Enmax. Airdrie saved 4.6 per cent on it’s energy consumption over it’s normal consumption, during Earth Hour last year, according to Fortis.

The rules of Earth Hour are simple. From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., turn off your lights and other electrical devices, to join in your neighbours in raising awareness for environmental issues.

Across the globe, famous landmarks including Paris' Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace in London, the Tower of Pisa in Italy, and the Sydney Opera House will shut off the lights. Last year, over 153 countries participated.


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