Hour of darkness: Earth Hour 2011

On Saturday Mar. 26, numerous students, including many from the EcoHawks, dressed up warmly for the fifth annual Earth Hour celebration on alumni field. With the science building, alumni field and parking lights turned off, the students — with delicately lit candles — gathered on the darkened field as a means of spreading environmental awareness.

“We called physical resources and basically asked them to turn off everything,” said Laura Curk, a member of the sub-committee on external activities for the EcoHawks. “Standing around at 8:30, it was actually kind of beautiful with all the lights turned off around us except for a couple.” Curk noted that not all lights could be shut off due to security reasons.

Throughout the day, the EcoHawks set up activities such as a zumba class, performances by entertainers and food concession stands. According to Curk, approximately 200 people took part in the event.

While appreciative of all the support given by those who participated, Curk still expressed some concerns about Laurier’s sustainability, singling out the Tim Hortons outlets that remain lit while closed. “As you can probably tell by looking around, there are still a lot of lights and ways of electricity being on.”

To improve on environmental sustainability in the coming years, Claire Bennett, the sustainability coordinator, introduced the university’s new LUCID Design software — a program that can do real-time metering of energy for every building on campus.

“Its amazing, we’re going to be the second university in Canada to get it behind UBC [University of British Columbia],” Bennett explained. “Which it is really important because UBC is always the leader in all sustainability stuff.”

Purchased last Friday, this new software allows the buildings on campus to accurately monitor energy usage, the amount of energy saved and potential costs. Bennett hopes that interactive tools such as LUCID will encourage more sustainable lifestyles, especially for students in residences.

Even though grateful of the EcoHawks’ efforts in spreading awareness for Earth Hour, Bennett noted that there has been a decrease in environmental-themed activities around campus, including residence energy-saving competitions. Bennett is hopeful that the new technology implemented next year will encourage activities such as these.

“But I think it’ll be great to expand a little more with competitions, it just gets interested in and more involved right?”