A Greener Gym


In 2017, UConn will begin the construction of its new recreation center. This gym will contain all new facilities, intended to last for a long time. As the UConn recreation center’s website says, “If the University is going to move forward with a major undertaking such as this, the goal is to do it right the first time.” With this in mind, we should look into the most environmentally friendly options for exercise equipment.

Most gym equipment doesn’t require electricity to operate, except for some of the popular cardio machines. Treadmills, tread climbers, and stair climbers use large amounts of energy. Each treadmill, for example, can consume 1.5 kilowatts of energy every hour, leading to as much as 3,000 kilowatts used by all the treadmills each week. Luckily, there are already some green cardio alternatives. The ellipticals, cross trainers, stationary bikes, and rowing machines are mostly self-powered; the energy created from using the machine generates some or all of the electricity that powers the display.


As we look towards a new gym, there are several state-of-the-art green cardio machines that we can consider. ReRev is a company that retrofits certain exercise machines with power generators that create enough electricity to send some back into the building’s power supply. They’ve modified equipment in dozens of schools, including Drexel University, James Madison University, and UC San Diego.



Some brands are creating new equipment specifically for efficient compatibility with ReRev, or for generating their own electricity without accessories. Woodway has created a new type of treadmill that is both more environmentally friendly and more intense to workout with. This product, the EcoMill, is a human-powered treadmill that can generate 16 watt hours of electricity per mph of speed. There are also individual products that generate electricity without ReRev systems, such as SportsArt’s ECO-POWR line. These ellipticals and indoor bikes simply plug into the building and give back the energy produced from the user’s exercise.

As UConn continues to grow, it is important to incorporate more sustainable technology into the new facilities. Energy efficient cardio equipment could be a great addition to the new recreation center.

-Ben, OEP Sustainability Intern


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