How a campus fitness center is going green

Users generate energy with equipment at Penn State Altoona

Students at Penn State Altoona are getting in shape in a way that also contributes to Mother Nature’s health.

During fitness center renovations at The Pennsylvania State University commonwealth campus three years ago, fitness managers installed elliptical machines and stationary bikes that produce energy while students work out.

“We wanted to make a splash, and students have really responded,” says John Carey, the director of recreation and athletic facilities.

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The ECO-POWR equipment, manufactured by SportsArt, can generate up to 250 watts per hour and send the energy back into a facility’s electrical grid. Fitness officials have partnered with the university’s sustainability council to help spread the word about the equipment on social media and other channels.

Carey and his team encourage students to download SportsArt’s SA WELL+ app to connect their workouts to a leaderboard that shows how much energy they’ve generated and saved.

“When it comes to sustainability, most of the time people think recycling; they’ve never thought, ‘Wow, recreation and sustainability,’” Carey says. “That’s pretty much cutting edge.”

SportsArt equipment has also been installed at The Ohio State University, Stony Brook University in New York, Tennessee Tech University, Wenatchee Valley College in Washington and Western Carolina University in North Carolina.

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Higher ed leaders have focused on recreation activities and facilities to make their campuses more sustainable. Washington State University, for example, operates the Coug Bikes bike-share program to reduce traffic and carbon emissions on campus.

Missouri State University provides walking tours to show off sustainability components of its Bill R. Foster and Family Recreation Center. UCLA Recreation has launched several sustainability initiatives, such as green landscaping at sports facilities, water conservation and bicycle recycling.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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