For the second consecutive year, Quinnipiac students celebrated decreasing their carbon footprint under dimmed lights in Alumni Hall. Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) co-sponsored “Earth Hour” from 8-9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27 with student groups SGA and CAP.
Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and has since grown to be a worldwide event that encourages people to turn off their lights for one designated hour.
According to Myearthhour.org, nearly 1 billion people participated in 2009 to send a global message to “turn the lights out on dirty air, dangerous dependency on foreign oil and costly climate change impacts, and make the switch to cleaner air, a strong economic future and a more secure nation.”
2010 marks the fourth year of the worldwide event and the second year of Quinnipiac’s contribution.
Senior advertising major Marissa Foray first participated in Earth Hour when she studied abroad in New Zealand during the spring 2008 semester.
“I thought it was such an inspirational effort, I wanted to bring it here,” Foray said.
Foray brought the idea of Earth Hour to campus last year when she served as president of SIFE. This year, she serves as SIFE’s Earth Hour chair, with this project being her main responsibility.
“That’s what SIFE is all about,” said freshman Mattison Skoog, the marketing/public relations chair of SIFE. “Someone gets an idea for a project, event, or cause, and we just run with it. Every event/project that we do benefits someone, somewhere, who really needs the support. We have a head for business, and a heart for the world.”
Junior John Greenlaw performed during the hour-long event, singing and playing crowd favorites by Akon, John Mayer, Lady GaGa, Tom Petty and some original pieces on his acoustic guitar.
Junior Sarah Nowicki, who has been singing since third grade and sings with Greenlaw often, accompanied him for some of his set.
“It’s good to get exposure and I have a blast being up there,” Nowicki said. “I think this is a great idea. There needs to be more it around campus; the more awareness, the better.”
The muffins, doughnuts, cake, flatbread, cookies and cider served were all locally grown and organic, provided by Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford, Conn.
SIFE also served coffee from Café Cameroon, the business they started which donates 100 percent of its proceeds back to the Bawa village in Cameroon where the coffee comes from. The money is being used to build a health center for the village. Currently, the nearest health center is located six miles away and Bawa residents have to walk because no one owns a vehicle. Chartwells bought the supply of coffee for the event as a donation.
Preparation for the event began in January, immediately after Foray returned from winter break. Associate Director of Facilities Keith Woodward has been assisting SIFE with this project ever since it started last year.
“He has been extremely helpful in making efforts besides individual efforts to decrease electricity usage by turning down power in the library, heat in the dorms and doing different things with generators,” Foray said.
On Wednesday, Woodward scheduled employees to work overtime in facilities to turn off any external power source not required for the one hour.
From facilities, Foray specifically requested a graph of campus electrical usage from 8-9 p.m. on a typical Wednesday and a graph of campus electrical usage during Earth Hour to compare.
Last year, campus usage was decreased by 300 kilowatt hours (kwh). This year, Foray set a goal to double the results.
“It’s the whole idea of bettering the planet in any way you can, whether through service or decreasing your carbon footprint,” Foray said. “Something so simple as remembering to turn off electronics can make a big impact if enough people do it.”
Freshman Andrea Carlone, Event Logistics Chair on the Big Event Committee, thought the turnout was decent.
“For those who stayed for the hour, it did raise awareness,” Carlone said. “To those students: Thanks for coming.”
“As much as this event is about saving an hour’s worth of energy, it’s really about getting awareness up,” Skoog said. “Students will learn from this how much impact just one college campus can make if they work together on something for just one hour.”