The Summit Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday, March 25, in support of Earth Hour, scheduled for 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29.
Earth Hour is a lights-off event that was organized in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
It has since grown into a worldwide event with more than 7,000 participating cities and towns.
The county commissioners passed the resolution to serve as a reminder to the public, “that by working together we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with energy conservation and efficiency to thereby reduce our community’s carbon footprint,” according to the language in the resolution.
By declaring 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday as Earth Hour in Summit County, the commissioners are asking residents, businesses and government offices to participate by turning off all non-essential lights and to commit to taking steps to reduce energy consumption during the coming year.
During the meeting, Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier spoke about some of the steps the county has taken in recent years to reduce its carbon footprint.
The county recently participated in an energy audit and implemented recommendations to make county buildings more energy efficient.
The county also has constructed six solar panel systems at various county buildings estimated to produce 70,000 kWh of electricity annually. Those systems also are estimated to save the county $300,000 and offset more than 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of the next 20 years.
“It’s a great opportunity to highlight energy efficiency projects and renewable energy projects we have in place,” Stiegelmeier said. “It’s also a great opportunity for residents to slow down, light a candle and enjoy a conversation with the people they care about.
“I think it’s also a unique way to connect with neighbors and discuss simple ways to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Summit County manager Gary Martinez said the county has participated in Earth Hour for at least the last five years.
The event has gained worldwide attention through the participation of iconic landmarks, from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the Great Pyramids of Giza, which also will go dark during Earth Hour.
Locally, Stiegelmeier said non-essential lights at the County Commons and the Silverthorne Recreation Center will go dark during Earth Hour.
On Tuesday, the town of Breckenridge passed a similar resolution and pledged to turn off all non-essential lights at town buildings during the one-hour event.