Chat with us, powered by LiveChatLights out: it's time for bright ideas

Lights out: it's time for bright ideas

Earth Hour events are a chance to talk about long-term ways to save energy. For landlords more focused on rental returns than environmental movements, the symbolic act of turning off household lights for an hour can seem like tokenism. But the environmental campaigners behind Earth Hour insist the annual event, which began in Sydney in 2007 and has spread to more than 5000 cities in 135 countries, is about initiating continuing change. The WWF's director of conservation, Dr Gilly Llewellyn, says Earth Hour gives landlords and property managers a good reason to meet with tenants to compare notes on sustainability measures they could implement or have already undertaken that save not only energy and water but money too. "Many of the tips around living sustainably do actually help cut costs, so you can both save yourself money and be on a journey towards sustainability", Dr Llewellyn says. "There's a groundswell of community support around sustainability and it's a way for you, as a landlord, to connect with your tenant and your community to be part of that conversation". For landlords who want to move beyond the basics - registering at earthhour.org, turning off non-essential lights at home between 8.30 and 9.30pm on Saturday, March 31 and encouraging tenants to do likewise at their rental property - an Earth Hour event can be a useful ice-breaker. "We're encouraging landlords to take an active engagement in Earth Hour", Dr Llewellyn says. "We've got materials on the website - posters and flyers - so they can raise awareness with their tenants. It would be great if landlords want to host an event - sign up, bring your tenants together for a conversation about sustainability. Earth Hour's a great way to learn from each other about what people are doing day-to-day to help reduce energy and water. On the Earth Hour webpage, we've got lots of tips for living sustainably that might be of interest: installing solar panels, using energy-efficient white goods, how you can save water and emissions by using AAA-rated shower heads - even the simplest things, like turning lights off". The launch this year of Earth Hour Unplugged events means landlords, tenants, businesses and individuals can also sign up to host a community event that raises money and casts the net even wider. Among the events already registered are an acoustic opera in Brisbane, a solar-powered boat cruise in Newcastle and an Autumn Slow Food Dinner at a winery in Rutherglen, Victoria. For tenants unsure about their landlord's commitment to investing in sustainability improvements, Dr Llewellyn suggests inviting them to an Earth Hour gathering - especially with other tenants. "You might be surprised by how receptive they could be to suggestions that help improve sustainability and help the overall efficiency of the building" she says. "You may actually be able to help your landlord save money. Use it as a chance to take the initiative and send a message up the food chain". Tips for landlords > Turn off non-essential lights during the day in corridors or install motion-sensor lighting. > Install energy-saving lights and devices, such as timers. > Switch the property's electricity to Gold Standard Green Power. > Provide recycling facilities and services for tenants. > Install rainwater tanks for watering gardens and lawns. > Tell your tenants, neighbours and anyone else about your participation in Earth Hour and about the positive actions you are taking. For more information visit: www.wwf.org.au/earthhour