Businesses Encouraged to Go Lights Out for 'Earth Hour' March 29

EPA Region 5 is participating in a global initiative to raise awareness about climate change and says that working together, we can make a difference. It's called Earth Hour, and for one hour Saturday, March 29th--from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.--residents, businesses, landmarks, and organizations are asked to voluntarily turn off their lights to reduce energy consumption. EPA says the event will be celebrated in cities across with world. Chicago has been chosen as the flagship city for the United States, with San Francisco, Phoenix, and Atlanta also participating, the agency says.

The agency emphasizes that Earth Hour is meant to be celebrated while maintaining safety. Streetlights will remain on, as will any lights deemed to impact public safety like lobbies and elevators. All hospital and emergency services will be operating as usual-- none of their lights will be turned off. But businesses open to the public can participate while also remaining in full compliance with all laws and safety standards, EPA says. A theater marquee may go dark while the show goes on in the light, and a restaurant could darken the exterior, providing a romantic mood while keeping the kitchen lights on, the agency suggest. Homeowners could have family time, free from computers and TV, or they may visit neighbors under the streetlamps.

Average annual carbon emissions in the United States measure 19.6 tons per person. Earth Hour is designed to show that, together, each small action taken collectively can make a difference in reducing those emissions. An initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour began with an event held in Sydney, Australia, in March 2007. To register your participation, download materials, and see more ideas of ways to participate, visit http://www.earthhourus.org.

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