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Fitness Center looks to go green, seeks student input for facility name

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 20:09

FItness Center

Jessica Smith

Salem Dashti, freshman, works out on a SportsArt elliptical in the cardio room. Some of the older ellipticals will be among the equipment replaced with SportsArt and EcoFit’s new line, the Green System.

Tech’s Fitness Center is preparing to install an environmentally friendly cardio room Sept. 28.

The Fitness Center, Facilities and Business Services and the Sustainable Campus Committee have partnered to bring the Green System, a product by SportsArt Fitness and the EcoFit company, to Tech as part of the campus’ commitment to going green.

“Awareness is a huge part of it, but it’s us doing what we can to aid that,” Suzann Hensley, assistant director for campus recreation, said. “We use a lot of electricity in [the fitness center], and anytime that we can do something that reduces that, that’s what we need to do. This equipment was available to us, and we thought, ‘Why not?’”

The former cardio room, temporarily called the Green Room until a name is chosen, will have 16-18 pieces of Green System equipment such as ellipticals, recumbent cycles and upright cycles to replace some of the older equipment.

The system will convert about 75 percent of energy generated by users back into the Fitness Center’s electrical system as reusable energy. Each piece of equipment will be connected to a DC voltage booster that will send the human-generated energy back into the building’s power grid through inverters.

According to the SportsArt Green System fact sheet, which will be accessible in the Green Room, “Each pod can provide 2,000 watt-hours of energy from exercisers every hour.” Tech will have two pods.

“It won’t ever be enough power generated to run the whole building, or definitely not to go past the building and into the main grid on campus, but it’s just, you know, maybe to operate a computer for a little while or something like that,” DeLayne Miller, project manager of facilities, said.

Hensley said, “It’s kind of small in scale to a certain degree, but you have to think of the concept and what it’s doing. You know, it’s the impact that it actually has. The more people we’ve got, the more power we’re producing.”  
While it may seem small in scale, Tech’s Green Room is making large strides in this particular effort to go green. This effort, Miller and Hensley said, could bring notoriety to Tech.

“My understanding is, we are the first school, club, whatever, in the U.S. to dedicate and have a whole area of this size dedicated to green,” Hensley said.

She said after SportsArt and EcoFit were awarded the bid to come to campus, they spoke with Tech about being a flagship for them, meaning other universities and businesses will likely visit the Green Room to see it in operation. There is also the possibility that Tech could receive recognition through media outlets such as CNN.

Tech’s Green Room is most comparable to the setup at the Victoria Athletic Club located in the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

According to the March 21 press release from SportsArt Fitness and EcoFit, “The Victoria Athletic Club has installed two pods of 10 machines and expects that it will save approximately $3,000 in electricity costs per year.”

Hensley said she believes with the number of hours the Fitness Center is open combined with the number of students who will likely use the equipment, Tech’s savings could be significantly better than the Victoria Athletic Club’s.

EcoFit cards will be mandatory to use the Green System equipment. Students may buy their cards at a minimal cost, Miller and Hensley said, but the first 25 to 50 will be given out for free. Tech will announce when the EcoFit cards will be for sale.

The EcoFit cards will save data about students’ energy output and fitness statistics, both from the current session and over time. Using this data, students can keep track of milestones they hit in wattage production.

At certain milestones, students may receive prizes such as T-shirts and water bottles.

Tech is leaving the room’s permanent name to students. Miller said the name should be something that will be relevant to Tech and the premise of the power generating equipment.

To make a suggestion, fill out a slip at the drop box in the main lobby of the Fitness Center.

The submission deadline is Oct. 1.

The student whose suggestion is chosen will receive his or her EcoFit card for free and will be awarded a 30-minute massage at the Fitness Center.  
The room will be closed during installation, but Hensley hopes to have it reopened by Sept. 29.

 

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