Resorts, Others Going Dark Saturday for Earth Hour
by Dave Smith
Several hotel chains with properties on the Big Island will join other businesses and millions of people as they go dark for one hour Saturday as part of Earth Hour 2012.
The Fairmont Orchid resort in South Kohala will be one of more than 60 Fairmont hotels and resorts around the world are taking part in the program organized by the World Wildlife Fund to raise global awareness about energy sustainability and climate change.
The event will last from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Portions of the Big Island resort will use candles to provide light, and guests are encouraged to join in the Earth Hour celebration by turning off their room lights during the period.
The Fairmont Orchid will be offering stargazing during the hour assisted by local astronomer Wayne Fukunaga and his team from Star Gaze Hawaii.
Also taking part in the event will be the 11 Starwood Hawaii hotels including the Sheraton Keauhou Bay resort in Kona.
Starwood officials said this will be the company’s second year observing Earth Hour and is in keeping with the its goal to reduce its energy use by 30% and water use by 20% by 2020.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the first Earth Hour took place in 2007 and this year hundreds of millions of people are expected to turn off their lights at 8:30 p.m. their local time.
The WWF describes the event as “a global celebration of a commitment to protect the one thing that unites us all — the planet.”
“Earth Hour aims to display the actions that people, businesses and governments world-wide are taking to reduce their environmental impact,” the organization said.
The WWF said the event is not a black-out, and asks that only non-essential lighting be turned off.
“Safety and security lighting should definitely remain on,” it said. “Earth Hour is also a celebration of the plant so it’s important to enjoy the moment in a safe environment.”
According to the organization, the last weekend of March was selected as the time for Earth Hour because it is around the time of the spring and fall equinoxes in the northern and southern hemispheres, respectively. That allows for near coincidental sunset times in both hemispheres, thereby ensuring the greatest visual impact for a global “lights out” event.
Update: This article was updated at 12:07 p.m. Friday to reflect the participation by Starwood Hawaii hotels.