It was lights out for parts of campus Saturday evening as the university participated in “Earth Hour,” an international initiative by the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF, that promotes climate change awareness and energy conservation by turning off lights.
Various nonessential lights on campus, such as those on the exterior of Walter Hall and Baker Center Cupola, were switched off from 8:30 to 9:30pm to generate sustainability and reduce the university’s energy consumption.
The initiative was supported within the university by Facilities Management and Safety, or FMS, and Student Senate. This was Ohio University’s first time taking part in the event, which originated in Australia in 2007.
Rachel Martin, an environmental affairs vice-commissioner for Student Senate and WWF ambassador, said that the university’s participation was mainly to raise awareness on a larger scale.
“This year especially, I think WWF wanted to push it institutionally, so that’s why we kind of focused more on, like, Baker Center and some of the bigger buildings on campus,” Martin, a junior studying environmental studies, said. “We’re hoping that it will start a conversation at the individual level and that maybe next year, we could pursue more.”
Chief Facilities Officer/Senior Associate Vice President for FMS, Steve Wood said FMS discussed their support for Earth Hour on social media, through Student Senate and in a Compass article.
“We are encouraging students to implement their own energy conservation actions, but doing so in a safe manner,” Wood said in an email.
Walkways were still illuminated, so students could see where they were going. Residence hall rules still applied, such as the prohibition of candles.
“On campus, we haven’t done a lot at the individual level to promote besides what facilities has done. In years past, the ambassadors for the WWF put on programs wherever they were located. My freshman year, I just did something in the dorm. We had a glow-in-the dark party. We turned all the lights off. We got glow sticks and went outside and played volleyball in the dark,” Martin said.
She hopes that next year, the Environmental Affairs Commission could market the event individually and make an even bigger impact.
“I think next year if we plan ahead, we could do something really cool. Especially since we’ve established this relationship with local vendors and businesses, I think we could push that more,” Martin said.
Approximately nine individuals from FMS worked to turn lights off at each location’s break panel.
“We estimate the overtime costs for the individuals to be on campus and turning off the identified lights will cost more than the energy we are saving by turning off the lights,” Wood said in an email.
However, Martin said the event is less about saving money and more about reducing energy and raising awareness for the environment.
Sara Derrick, a junior studying communications, said she’s glad the university takes initiative on environmental issues.
“It’s nice to see that the university is doing something that shows it cares about the environment. Sometimes these initiatives can be inconvenient at first, but in the long run, I think they’re good for campus and for the earth,” Derrick said.
Wood said the amount of energy saved was recorded and will be available in two to three weeks.