On the evening of Saturday, March 29, 2008, from 8p.m. to 9 p.m., the Chicago Park District, along with the City of Chicago and area businesses and individuals, will participate in Earth Hour, a global initiative fronted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that draws attention to climate change by simply turning out the lights.
According to the WWF U.S. President and CEO Carter Roberts, Chicago will be the flagship city in this global initiative against the adverse climate changes that threaten our planet.
"Chicago has proven it is a leader in environmental action,” said Roberts, “ ...[it] will play a critical role in the global success of Earth Hour 2008.”
During the Earth Hour event, the Chicago Park District has committed to turning off all field house lights and architectural lighting including the famous Buckingham Fountain, Waveland Clock Tower, and various monuments throughout the Park District. All security lights will remain illuminated for the safety of the residents and park patrons.
"The Park District is encouraging all of our staff and park patrons to participate in this global event that helps raise awareness about climate change," said Timothy J. Mitchell, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO. "Our commitment to the environment extends beyond this singular event. We are continuously striving to operate with a higher level of energy efficiency year after year by implementing new practices that would help protect our environment."
Mitchell is right, not only is the Chicago Park District participating in one of the most important global conservation events of 2008, they are also striving for better energy efficiency in the coming year.
In 2008, the Chicago Park District has committed to decreasing energy usage by 10% across the more than 7,500 acres of land it owns and operates. 30% of the District's electrical energy is being supplied from a renewable energy source through a new contract with the State of Illinois. The Park District is also partnering with Integrys Energy Services, who has agreed to provide 10% of the renewable energy at the same fixed price rate of standard electricity.
With nearly 300 field houses ranging in size from 800 - 8,000 square feet, some dating all the way back to the 1890s, the Park District is working to renovate the thermal shell of older, inefficient buildings; install new energy efficient equipment and control systems; and retrofit the lighting systems. Additionally, systematic replacement of incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs began in 2005 and continues to this day.
The Chicago Park District and the World Wildlife Fund are on the forefront of eco-conscientiousness. With open minds and a common goal, they are working to protect the planet that we all call home. But while they certainly do their part, we all must pitch in and lend a hand in the fight against the destruction of our planet. Be it by recycling, car-pooling or using public transportation, or by simply turning out the lights when leaving the room, we all must work towards preserving our planet for the future generations to come.
To register for Earth Hour or for more ideas about how to celebrate Earth Hour, visit www.earthhourus.org.
For more information on the World Wildlife Federation, please visit www.worldwildlife.org.