Lights out for Earth Hour


POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tens of thousands of Hawaii light switches could be turned off from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday in observance of Earth Hour, a World Wildlife Fund annual global climate change awareness event.

Honolulu and Kauai counties are official participants, according to the Earth Hour U.S. Web site, with the effort being promoted by the Rebuild Hawaii Consortium, a group of public and private organizations seeking to promote energy and resource efficiency.

Kevin Saito, president of the group and account manager for comprehensive solutions and energy services at Trane Co., acknowledged that most government agencies, nonprofits and businesses are closed Saturday nights anyway.

Nevertheless, he said, “;Our commitment is, at our house, we're going to turn off our lights.”;

Saito said he hopes to illustrate to his family that they don't need so many lights on every night of the week.

Response from the consortium's dozens of members to take the pledge home was enthusiastic, Saito said.

Members include the counties and certain of their departments, state agencies and branches, utility companies, federal agencies, schools, trade organizations and private businesses.

“;The idea is to protect the planet; it's the only planet we have,”; he said. “;If we're not doing it in our generation, how do we expect our kids to learn and pass it on to their kids?”; Saito said.

Nobody has done the math on how much electricity might be saved, but “;the emphasis is not so much on that one hour; it's on the behavior change,”; said publicist Anne Marie Smoke, of The Limtiaco Co.

Bishop Museum has gotten involved and will use an energy calculator developed by Energy Industries Corp. to show employees their energy savings each time a light, computer or other electricity-powered device is turned off.

The museum is planning public activities relating to energy conservation awareness as well, Smoke said.

Hickam Air Force Base, along with contractor Actus Lend Lease, will encourage base residents to turn off their lights and meet at the community center for a family-oriented movie to be screened using stored solar energy from its roof, she said.

Schools have also worked energy conservation into student curricula, nonprofit groups have informed community partners and “;it's just snowballing,”; Smoke said.

“;Maybe we can meet all these state energy initiatives by 2030,”; she added.

Some 2,500 cities, towns and counties in 82 countries had committed to participate by Tuesday — quadruple last year's number, according to the Earth Hour Web site.