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Feb 122010
 

By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now

South Carolina’s Furman University, one of the schools that has signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, will be using a new form of renewable energy to improve its carbon profile: Student power.

Along with other schools such as the University of Kansas and the University of Florida, Furman is going to tap the energy of exercising students (and faculty) and turn it into electricity.

Fifteen Precor elliptical exercise machines will be installed at the university’s Herman W. Lay Physical Activities Center (PAC). The energy generated by the machines will then be put back into the campus power grid. Thirty minutes on the elliptical will power a light bulb for two to three hours or a desktop computer for half an hour.

The initial set up is expected to cost $15,000 – $20,000 will be a gift from the class of 2010. The seniors, who began their fundraiser this month, plan to raise $30,000 – $40,000 to cover those costs.

Furman, a private university with 2,600 students that was founded in 1826, has spent the last 18 months developing its climate action plan, which calls for the university to become carbon neutral by 2026.

“From the outset, we determined that any effort in this area ought to be much more comprehensive than simply planning to reduce carbon emissions,” said Furman President David Shi.  “Instead, it needed to encompass a long-range sustainability master plan for the university, which would include not only those activities relevant to its carbon and ecological footprints but also the much broader scope of the university’s mission and function, including the curriculum, co-curriculum, and projects and partnerships in the greater Greenville community.”

With the Board of Trustees vote to adopt the university’s sustainability plan last Saturday, Furman University will take many steps to become carbon neutral. “It will take nothing less than a full commitment from the entire university if we are to achieve the challenging initiatives laid out in this plan,” said President Shi.FURMAN_LOGO

The climate action highlights five specific strategies that will reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions:

  • increasing energy efficiency in all campus operations
  • creating a campus-wide culture of conservation to decrease energy use
  • creating a more sustainable campus transportation system
  • investing in renewable energy projects
  • creating local carbon offset projects and energy-conservation service projects in the community

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