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Environment & Energy

Pittsburgh Organizations To Turn Off Their Lights For Earth Hour

Turn out your lights.

That’s what several Pittsburgh organizations are doing Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during Earth Hour. The organizations are hoping to spark awareness about sustainability.

This year, much of Pittsburgh’s skyline will be dark.

Anna Siefken, of the Green Building Alliance, hopes to see the entire community come out to watch the lights go out.

“On March 28, for Earth Hour, like those of the city, the county, BNY Mellon, Highmark, UPMC and the university community are all joining our collaborative effort to turn their non-essential lights off,” Siefken said. “It’s a way to show the world the power of the collective of the people and places in Pittsburgh.”

She hopes Pittsburgh residents participate in their own homes.

Mary Whitney, director of university sustainability at Chatham University, agreed, saying each year the school tries to do more to get people engaged in the process.

“So when we first started, we turned off just the lights of the chapel, then we started turning off lights at a few more buildings,” Whitney said. “And for the last … three years I think, what we’ve been doing is we’ve been asking people to sign a pledge that they would also turn off their lights in their own home.”

She said they can track how many people sign the pledge each year.

“It’s a very strong symbolic component – it’s a certain time, it happens every year, and people do it, and it’s not that it so much reduces electricity use that day, it’s the idea that you’re saying, ‘Yes, this is an idea that matters to us as an institution,’” Whitney said.

Ginette Walker Vinski, communications manager for Sustainable Pittsburgh, said they are inviting all of the participants in their Green Workplace Challenge to earn bonus points by turning out their lights.

“An organization is invited to participate in Earth Hour by having its workplace dim or turn off their lights, and to do that, they would earn two bonus ‘actions,’” Walker Vinski said. “Additionally, if an organization is participating in the green workplace challenge wants to involve their employees in Earth Hour, they, too, can earn bonus points.”

The Green Workplace Challenge is a competition in which organizations track and measure their performance in energy, water, waste and transportation.

She said a workplace can earn a minimum of two bonus points, and if the employees participate, that number could increase.

More than 7,000 cities and towns around the world turn out their lights for Earth Hour.