Community keeps fitness center going

Maddison Potter | Reporter

Students, employees and alumni exercising in the Green Room at the campus fitness center may be contributing to keeping the building’s lights on.

Five years ago, officials installed equipment to harness the energy produced during workouts. A box-like converter attached to the front of each piece of exercise equipment sends the energy to an inverter, which returns the energy back into the building’s power supply.

Assistant director Suzann Hensley said the room contains the largest environmentally friendly system in the United States, with seven ellipticals, four recumbent bikes, four upright bikes and treadmills. The equipment and essential parts cost about $80,000, she said.

The room is equipped with recumbent bikes, upright bikes and ellipticals that produce energy when in use. The treadmills are energy efficient, but they do not contribute to the power generation, Hensley said.

Funds collected through the student sustainability fee help fund the equipment and room construction, DeLayne Miller, executive officer of the Sustainable Campus Committee.

When the fitness center needed new equipment, school officials discovered SportsArt, a company that produces environmentally friendly fitness equipment, that also generate power, Hensley said.

Tech was one of five universities that implemented the system, Hensley said.  

Since then, Hensley said representatives from more than dozen other universities have inquired about the system.

Hensley said it is unknown how much energy and savings are generated, because the equipment does not collect data.

SportsArt’s website provides an energy saving estimate. An inverter attached to 10 pieces of “green” equipment can produce 2,000 watts of energy per hour- enough to power a laptop for 40 hours.

Hensley said their main concern is energy efficiency.

“I think it’s about awareness and letting our students know that we are trying to do everything that we can to be on that forefront of green equipment and making sure that we are contributing to that,” Abbey Jaffe, coordinator for health promotion programs said.

Miller said she hopes to see more eco-friendly equipment in the new fitness center now under construction on Willow Avenue.

 The updated SportsArt equipment will not need converters, Hensley said. Instead, the equipment plugs directly into an outlet and feeds straight into the power grid and is capable of tracking data, Hensley said.

“I think in the new building, we will get even more use out of those pieces of equipment, because they’re going to be in a space that has rows of equipment all facing out of a big glass window in the same direction,” Jaffe said.