Innovation That Matters

Generating electricity by working up a sweat -- update

Work & Lifestyle

It’s no longer unheard of to use the energy people expend dancing to power night clubs and cell phones, as we’ve reported on a few occasions over the last few months. So it seems only natural to see health clubs getting in on the action with ways to capture the energy of working out. Last year we covered efforts along those lines at Hong Kong’s California Fitness gym, and now a brand-new gym in Portland, Ore., is doing something similar–inspired, in fact, by the Hong Kong example. The Green Microgym, which just opened last week, is a 2,800-sq-ft neighbourhood gym that generates a significant portion of its own electricity through the sweat-producing efforts of its members. Fully equipped with name-brand cardio equipment, a full weight room and a room for yoga/stretching, movement and core training, The Green Microgym uses a combination of solar and pedal electricity for a chunk of its energy needs. Solar panels atop the site generate almost 3 kilowatts of electricity, while the gym’s Team Dynamo and Spin Bikes–engineered by founder Adam Boesel to connect to wind-generator motors–can collectively generate up to 750 watts. In addition, the Green Microgym is working on ways to capture the excess energy from its elliptical trainers as well. The Green Microgym also aims to use less resources than the average health club. Its SportsArt EcoPowr Treadmills, for example, use 30 percent less electricity than others, and the facility features EnergyStar-rated (and member-controlled) ceiling fans, compact fluorescent lights, lower-energy LCD TVs and double-flush toilets. It also avoids the need for large water heaters by not offering showers. Floors are made from recycled rubber, marmoleum, and eco-friendly cork flooring; billing is paperless; and the gym uses nontoxic soaps and cleaning supplies. Membership costs USD 100 for enrolment and USD 49 in monthly fees. Boesel says he hopes to generate as much as 40 percent of his gym’s energy needs, with improvements as time goes on, and he now offers consulting to help other gyms set up green initiatives of their own. Fitness entrepreneurs in London, Paris, São Paulo–how about you? Spotted by: C. Tynan



Download PDF