Going beyond the hour

March 15, 2018 | Society

Fourth annual Earth Hour Race inspires local understanding of climate action


Despite the title, the Earth Hour Race is actually a two-hour competition hosted by MacEwan University and University of Alberta to help kick off Edmonton’s celebration of Earth Hour. The worldwide event aims to have every non-essential electrical appliances shut off from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time.

Students and staff sign up in teams of two, and the Amazing Race-style competition takes the participants to both university campuses to complete activities focused on environmental conservation and economic sustainability. The goal is to be as energy efficient as possible – competitors are not allowed to use their car or call a cab, and must take public transit or walk between challenges at the different campuses.

“The race opens the conversation for a lot of people,” says Leo Wong, an assistant professor in MacEwan’s School of Business, and the founder of the event. “It’s a novel experience to try and use no energy. In Canadian culture, we use a lot of energy, a lot of the time.” This year, Leo is participating in the race for a second time.

In 2014, Leo’s non-profit management class wanted to encourage more active participation in Earth Hour. “Instead of a campaign or an app, we wanted to plan an event. We thought it would be very appealing to the public to participate in a race.”

The event challenges are hosted by local groups, such as the Edmonton and Area Land Trust, oikos Edmonton, Future Energy Systems and departments at both universities. The activities, prizes, and affordability of the race, at only $15 per person, are intended to make it easy to learn more about economic and environmental change.

“The challenge is to sustain interest,” explains Leo. “To save energy for 60 minutes is good, but does it have a long-term impact? We really need to do things to make sure we’re continuing the conversation.”

Want to give it a try? Flex your competitive muscle and sign up to race with a friend – you’ll connect with peers from both MacEwan and University of Alberta! Or, help make the race a success by volunteering at one of our booths or running one of the activities.

Read more about sustainability at MacEwan:

Get MacEwan University news delivered to your inbox.
Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter