By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
The exploration of green energy, or energy conservation for that matter, is really a series of no-brainers.
People figured out a thousand years ago that the wind was a good source of energy. Solar power has been staring us in the face for ages. Geothermal is right under our feet, and its not going anywhere.
It makes sense to harness these renewable sources of energy.
But there’s also human power. Every day millions of us expend countless calories exercising our quads, glutes, biceps and cardiovascular systems. This energy also offers itself for the taking, and a nascent cottage industry appears ready to run with it — no pun intended.
The idea is as simple as basic physics: Fitness clubs could re-power their gyms and equipment, at least in part, with the energy that walks in the door every day.
Picture that sweating mass of bodies powering down on the fleet of ellipticals and charting miles on a line-up of recumbent bikes. Those arms and legs are moving pretty fast. Couldn’t they contribute to the facilities energy needs, helping operate the air conditioning and the big screen TV? Yes, they could.
One company that’s jumping in is Seattle-based SportsArt Fitness, a maker of exercise equipment. It’s putting the final touches on an inverter system — the Green System — that will draw power from 8 to 20 active ellipticals or stationary bikes and funnel it onto the grid. The usable electricity would feed directly back into the building’s electricity network, where it could power the TVs, iPods and possibly the fans as being used by clients.
The inverter, a small silver box, can convert up to 2000 kilowatts per hour. So if the gym is in full use, the customers could produce up to that amount, said Amber Maechler, marketing and communications director for SportsArt Fitness.
They users would never be able to power the entire building, but they could offset their own use of the facility, she said. “So you don’t have to feel guilty about using the lights, the fan, the TV.”
Fitness club owners have an even bigger reason to employ the system, Maechler said. Utilities are typically the second highest expense for clubs, and harnessing some human energy would definitely take a bite of out the electricity bill.
The company has not released the upfront cost of the SportsArt inverter system, but has tentatively estimated an ROI on its system of one year. The big catch: The system doesn’t work with just any equipment, but requires that users purchase a “pod” of cardio machines that work with the inverter.
Even with that capital expense, however, SportsArt claims that its system will beat competitors’ prices by offering a streamlined system that has no battery storage component. Battery storage is not that efficient and adds a lot to the cost of a system, Maechler said. Without the storage component, the system can only generate electricity when the exercise equipment is in use — but that’s when the electricity is needed anyway, she said.
Copyright © 2011 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network