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posted: 3/28/2014 7:38 PM

Creating a more sustainable future starts at home

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Tony Marusic

As a reminder of the small steps that everyone can take to save energy and conserve natural resources, ComEd will join the city of Chicago and the World Wildlife Fund to celebrate Earth Hour on March 29 with a symbolic "lights out" moment at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Now in its eighth year, Earth Hour is the world's largest annual voluntary environmental action event to raise awareness about climate change. The highlight of every Earth Hour is watching local iconic landmarks go dark for one hour. This year, the city of Chicago and ComEd will commemorate Earth Hour with a 'lights out' event outside the Chicago Cultural Center. Families and friends can take part in Earth Hour at home and with this year's partners, including:

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• Spider-Man, the official "superhero" sponsor of Earth Hour, will join Sony and other partners at the Chicago Cultural Center for kids' activities and fun tips and giveaways to save energy at home.

• Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants' select Big Bowl locations will offer a free kid's meal for families who dine in on March 29 (one free kid's meal per adult) and fill out the ComEd Energy Efficiency Pledge. Plus, all diners receive a free energy efficiency gift bag.

• Yoga studios will offer candlelight classes in honor of Earth Hour, including: Bloom Yoga Studio in Chicago's Lincoln Square; Namaskar Yoga in Near North Chicago; Nspired Yoga in Rockford, and Village Yoga in Chicago's Lincoln Park.

Prior to the "lights out" moment, the city of Chicago will receive a grant from the World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour City Challenge, a yearlong competition recognizing cities that advance renewable energy or energy efficiency projects in the community. Earlier this month, Chicago was selected out of a group of 60 cities as the United States' Earth Hour Capital by a global jury of experts convened by the World Wildlife Fund. Chicago will use the grant award to launch a partnership to help make going solar more affordable.

"The city of Chicago is proud to celebrate the Earth Hour moment with ComEd and WWF," said the city of Chicago's Chief Sustainability Officer Karen Weigert. "We are honored that WWF has recognized Chicago's tremendous level of engagement and impact. Residents and organizations of all types are driving results in delivering Mayor Emanuel's vision to make Chicago the most livable, competitive and sustainable city."

"During Earth Hour and every day, ComEd is committed to creating a stronger, more sustainable future for the region," said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd. "At ComEd, we're constantly working to make our own operations more efficient and to offer residents and businesses the tools and technology to conserve electricity and protect the environment."

The Earth Hour event at the Chicago Cultural Center will take place simultaneously as thousands in Chicago and Illinois join millions of others across the globe in observing Earth Hour by turning off their nonessential lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m. local time.

The Chicago Cultural Center is one of hundreds of buildings, institutions and landmarks around Chicago and the state turning off their exterior lights in support of Earth Hour. Other recognizable Chicago buildings participating in this year's Earth Hour include Chase Tower, Chicago Theatre, Daley Center, James R. Thompson Center, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower and the Wrigley Building. In Springfield, the Capitol Building and the Governor's Mansion also will go dark for the hour.

Created by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007, Earth Hour is celebrated across the globe as households, businesses, and landmarks symbolically switch off their nonessential lights for one hour to raise awareness about climate change.

Earth Hour 2013 took place in more than 7,000 cities and towns in 153 countries and territories across all seven continents. Last year's "lights out" events included some of the world's most recognized landmarks, including the Forbidden City, Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, Golden Gate Bridge, Table Mountain, Christ the Redeemer statue and Sydney Opera House. All are expected to go dark again this year.

ComEd's sister utilities, BGE in Baltimore, and PECO in Philadelphia, also are participating in recognizing this global event.

ComEd's sponsorship of Earth Hour supports the company's focus on environmental programs and energy-efficiency education and action. ComEd provides easy-to-follow energy-efficiency tips for households and businesses at www.comed.com/smartideas. For more information about Earth Hour, visit comed.com/EarthHour. You can also follow Earth Hour Illinois on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EarthHourIL or on twitter: @EarthHourIL.

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