Earth Hour at Sheridan
On Saturday, March 19th Sheridan participated in Earth Hour with millions of other businesses and individuals from around the world.
Earth Hour is an annual event organized by WWF to raise awareness about climate change. Businesses, organizations, residents, and governments around the world participate by powering off their lights from 8:30-9:30PM. Earth Hour began in Australia in 2007 and has since grown into a worldwide event.
Sheridan’s Trafalgar, Davis, and Hazel McCallion campuses participated by turning off non-essential lights as well as select mechanical equipment. Some buildings stayed off until the following morning or throughout the rest of the weekend. Starting at around 8PM on Saturday, Sheridan’s electricians went around Davis, Trafalgar, and HMC campuses to shut off corridor lights and certain outdoor lights. The new lights on the DALI system and mechanical equipment controllable through the Building Automation System were programmed to be shut off.
The Residences were involved in Earth Hour by engaging students in eco trivia and inviting them to turn off lights and appliances in their dorm rooms. Students were also given “dirt and earth worms” that were made up of crushed up Oreos and gummy worms. RAs also presented quick interesting facts about the environment and the benefits of saving energy.
Both Athletics locations (at Trafalgar and Davis campuses) closed down a bit early in order to participate in Earth Hour. The Davis Student Union also shut down their lights. Students and employees were invited to take part by shutting off lights, powering down their computers, and shutting off monitors in their space before leaving campus on Friday evening or by participating at home.
Earth Hour around the World
WWF estimates that 2016 was the largest Earth Hour ever! Over 178 countries and territories participated and more than 400 of the world’s iconic landmarks were switched off. The event was also popular on social media with over 2.5 billion Twitter and 18.7 million Facebook reach in the week prior to Earth Hour. See “At a Glance” below from www.earthhour.org.
Watts in an Hour?
You might wonder how much of an impact shutting down a few lights for an hour would have. How much electricity, measured in kilowatt hours (or kWh), were actually saved?
Luckily, as part of the Integrated Energy and Climate Master Plan (IECMP) to reduce Sheridan’s energy use by 50% by 2020, sub-meters have been installed at Davis and Trafalgar campuses to monitor individual building’s energy use in 5-minute intervals. Previously only monthly data were available from utility hydro invoices. Sub-metering allows us to nail down the impact of Earth Hour.
Compared to a typical Saturday at Davis Campus, electricity use was about 16% lower during Earth Hour (orange bars in graph below). It’s estimated this saved about 450 kWh. That’s enough to power a typical Ontario home for more than half a month!Trafalgar Campus started winding down after 5PM or so on the day of Earth Hour compared to a typical weekend. Lights, fans, and some air handling units were staggered to turn off before the official start of Earth Hour. They were left off the rest of the night, the entire weekend. Most mechanical equipment was also staged to turn back on over a period of time to reduce the strain on the power grid from everything turning back on at the same time.
The graph below shows the dip in power demand at Trafalgar Campus during the Earth Hour weekend (orange line) compared to a typical weekend (blue line). It is estimated this reduced 1,092 kWh or enough to power a home for over a month!Although the data are not available, additional electricity use was also likely reduced at HMC, which also participated in Earth Hour.
Not counting HMC, Sheridan avoided 1,551 kWh of electricity use and 119 kg of greenhouse gas emissions.
Beyond the Hour
Earth Hour is meant to be more a symbolic awareness-raising event rather than a strategy to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. By quantifying the impact of Earth Hour at Sheridan, we hope to showcase the magnitude of Sheridan’s energy use compared to a typical home and to highlight the impact that businesses can have by participating in energy efficiency programs.
As part of its IECMP, Sheridan College is doing its part to install energy efficient lighting, gain control over heating and cooling of spaces, and improve energy efficiency. This helps us reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.
Individuals can help us reduce energy use by turning off lights when you leave an empty room, shutting off your computer and monitor when not in use (as well as at the end of your work day), and letting Facilities know when your space is too hot or cold.
Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Earth Hour possible including Facilities managers and operations staff, Security & Parking, Health & Safety, Communications and External Relations as well as everyone who participated. For questions/comments about Earth Hour or what you can do to go “Beyond the Hour,” contact the Office for Sustainability at firstname.lastname@example.org.