Helping the earth, an hour at a time

Thursday, March 27, 2008 | 8:08 p.m. CDT; updated 4:35 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monta Welch, president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition, prepares to give a speech to the media and to other members of the community about Earth Hour. The Earth Hour was approved by Mayor Darwin Hindman to take place Saturday from 8 to 9 p.m. The idea behind the event is to make the community more aware of its energy usage in homes and around town. Welch said that her hopes for this year's observance are to get community members involved and thinking about energy conservation. City councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said that she will be participating at home Saturday night but will also be riding her bike all day Friday.

COLUMBIA — The marquee sign at the entrance of The Tiger Hotel will not be casting its familiar glow on downtown Columbia on Saturday night.

The lights will be off from 5 p.m. Saturday until Sunday morning in honor of Earth Hour, said Myriah Collins, operations manager at the hotel.

Earth Hour

When: 8-9 p.m. Saturday Where: Columbia and places like Chicago, Fiji and Tel Aviv. What: For an hour this weekend, residents and businesses are encouraged to turn off lights and other electrical appliances as part of this event that aims to raise awareness about global warming. Who: Anyone can participate. So far, more than 300 residents have signed up, as have the city of Columbia, Columbia Public Schools, Stephens College, Daniel Boone Regional Library, Boone Electric Cooperative, Boone County National Bank, Commerce Bank, First National Bank, Peckham and Wright Architects, MacXprts, The Tiger Hotel, Flat Branch Pub and Brewing, Addison’s, Main Squeeze, Sycamore, Sophia’s, Massage Institute of Missouri, Greenway Massage Team and The Blue Note. There is also an Earth Hour event on that had 754,442 confirmed guests as of Thursday at 7 p.m. Tips for every other hour: - Use power strips for appliances that draw electrical current even when not in use. Turn off the strip at night and when the appliances are not needed. - Change incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. New LED lights are even more efficient. - Bundle errands to save gas money and use alternative transportation. Walking and biking will improve health and save money on doctor bills and gym memberships. - Use reusable shopping bags. Save the environment, reduce landfills. - Consider installing an attic fan, ceiling fans, a programmable thermostat and low-flow or automatic on/off faucets, shower heads and toilet tank displacers. Source: Columbia Climate Change Coalition More information:

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Earth Hour, which started last year in Sydney, Australia, has now become a global event. Columbia will be joining places like Chicago, Fiji and Tel Aviv in celebrating Earth Hour by asking residents and businesses to turn off lights and other electrical appliances between 8 and 9 p.m. on Saturday to raise awareness of global warming and energy use.

Monta Welch, president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition, said at a news conference Thursday that the celebration involved “personal challenges to help us shrink our carbon footprints and keep our wallets a little more plump.”

Welch informed Columbia City Council member Barbara Hoppe of the event, and Hoppe brought the issue as a resolution before the council.

Hoppe said that Earth Hour can help raise awareness that can cut energy use beyond one hour. “It’s saving money for the public, saving money for the city, helping the earth and helping ourselves,” she said.

Mayor Darwin Hindman signed a proclamation designating Earth Hour.

A number of business that will be open during the hour have opted to participate, including Flat Branch Pub and Brewing.

General Manager Lance Wood said the business will be dimming some inside lights, turning off some equipment and turning off outside lights. “We’ll leave some lights on outside so people can see to get in,” Wood said.

Both the Columbia Water and Light and Boone Electric Cooperative will monitor the change in energy usage during the hour.

“We have the ability to monitor how much energy is used the hour before, during and after,” said Chris Rohlfing, Boone Electric Cooperative manager of member services.

However, there is no practical way to measure for variables, said Water and Light spokeswoman Connie Kacprowicz.

“There are a lot of different things to consider,” she said, citing businesses closing during that hour, temperature changes and spring break as factors that could potentially obscure data.

Even if a business is closed during Earth Hour, it can still participate, Welch said. For example, employees could take alternative transportation during the weekend.

Workers will still be at The Tiger Hotel during Earth Hour, but all the lights will be off, except the sign on the top of the building, which cannot be turned off.

“I guess we’ll all be stumbling around in the dark,” hotel sales assistant Brandon Vair said.

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