Campus & Community

Lights will go out as University joins worldwide Earth Hour

2 min read

For an hour on the evening of March 28, Harvard will turn the lights off on some of its iconic architectural features — part of Earth Hour 2009, a global event promoting individual action to reduce climate change.

From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., the University will shut off non-essential lights atop Memorial Hall and on clock towers at two Harvard Houses, Dunster and Eliot.

The environmental awareness event is being marked in cities worldwide.

Boston will take part, along with dozens of U.S. municipalities, from New York and Los Angeles, to Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and even tiny Igiugig, Alaska (a village east of Anchorage).

Worldwide, at least 750 cities in 80 countries have signed up to participate in Earth Hour, a moment of global communal awareness organized by the World Wildlife Fund. Organizers are hoping 1 billion people will take part.

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. The event went global last year, when 50 million people took part in 400 cities worldwide.

Some of the world’s most famous structures turned off non-essential lights last year, including the Empire State Building, Toronto’s CN Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Seattle’s Space Needle, London’s City Hall, and the Sydney Opera House. Even Google’s U.S. home page went “dark,” leaving a message on a black background: “We’ve turned the lights out. Now it’s your turn — Earth Hour.”

Among the universities participating in Earth Hour this year are Howard, Northwestern, Indiana, and Vanderbilt.

During that one hour, Harvard is encouraging faculty, staff, and students not only to douse non-essential lights but to power down computers.

Heather Henriksen, director of the University’s Office for Sustainability, said all Harvard Schools will be taking part, along with Harvard Real Estate Services and University Operations Services.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) will turn off its architectural lighting, she said, including the Lowell House bell tower and the Dillon Fieldhouse clock tower.

FAS will promote its participation through a broadcast e-mail message and through its Resource Efficiency Program — the peer-to-peer conservation program in all Harvard Houses.

In Boston, lights will go dark at the city’s signature Citgo sign, the Prudential Center, the Hancock Tower, and other prominent (and well-lit) landmarks.