Wheat & Weeds – “Earth Hour” is Smart Business

Mariott’s turning the lights out at its hotels. And here’s a list of buildings participating in New York City alone:

Landmarks in NYC that will hit the lights on the 28th include: Empire State Building, Citigroup Center, Coca-Cola Billboard in Times Square, New York Life, Time Warner Center, The New York Public Library, 7 World Trade Center and the other Silverstein Properties buildings, The Helmsley Building and other Monday Properties buildings, and the Grand Hyatt New York. You’ll pardon me if I suspect environmentalism isn’t all that’s at work.

Imagine being the CFO of an enormous office building or hotel chain and being able to deprive your tenants and customers of an hour’s worth of power without their being able to complain. (I’m guessing no one’s rent/bills will be pro-rated). Kaching! Nothin’ but net.

This is like 10 years ago when hotels started placing those little “save the planet”/ “help us to be good corporate citizens” signs in the washrooms asking you to please admire their thoughtfulness in not wanting to give you fresh towels (although they’re available should you be selfish enough to insist). That this would also cut their water bills and allow them to hire fewer people for the laundry room had nothing to do with it I’m sure. Marketing genius. …

For some businesses, at least, Earth Hour is unsafe, not to mention expensive and with potential legal problems:

The first concern is security cameras. If they turn off, say, a lobby’s lighting, they’ve essentially lost their security system as well, as their cameras can no longer see what is going on inside. If their remote cameras go down, the building owners I spoke with said they would need to hire additional security guards to ensure the safety of their assets and those of their tenants.

So it’s stimulus too! A marketing triumph and eligible for a couple billion from TARP!

See? They won’t even miss those potted palms.