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Student workouts will help wellness center generate electricity, go green

The new UNF Wellness Center is making room for new technology that will change how students see energy usage.

Some of the cardio equipment in the new wellness center is expected to be outfitted with a system that will capture user-generated energy and cycle it back into the building.

The renewable energy system, called ReRev, takes energy that would normally turn into heat and converts it into electricity that can be used to power other things.

Hudson Harr, president of ReRev, said the system not only promotes the use of renewable energy, but it also shows students how they can personally be connected to it.

“By producing a kilowatt hour with your own body, you really get to know what electricity is,” Harr said. “Students will be able to say, ‘That’s my power going into this electricity, this light.’”

Jim Baur, manager of the Dottie Dorian Fitness Center and assistant director of recreation at UNF, said he expects the new wellness center to have 10 pieces of equipment tied to ReRev within the first year or two of operation.

Baur said linking 10 pieces of equipment to ReRev will cost about $12,000, which will come out of the wellness center fee built into tuition. In time, the system will pay for itself.

Each machine will generate about 50 watts of electricity for every 30 minutes of use, Baur said, which is about how much it takes to power a laptop for the same amount of time.

He said there will also be a monitor that calculates how much electricity is being generated from the ReRev-equipped machines.

While Harr said any sustainability movement is good for a university, ReRev is unique because of the high level of involvement from students.

“Most technology is out-of-sight and out-of-mind,” Harr said. “No one really interacts with it. With ReRev, you’re an integral part of the equation.”

Baur said he sees students becoming more involved in the use of renewable energy sources.

“I think society, in general, is trying to be more environmentally friendly,” Baur said. “It’s popular in other universities and wellness centers. It actually motivates the user to work harder because they’ll be able to realize ‘not only am I taking care of myself, but I’m taking care of the environment.’”

Gene Leybag, a UNF business management freshman, said he thinks ReRev will motivate him to put more effort into his workouts.

“That’s really cool that it helps sustain the building,” Leybag said. “It’s cool that it would be using fewer resources. I like helping the environment, so I would probably work harder.”

Baur said the ReRev equipment will be just as user-friendly as other machines, and students will likely not realize the system is in place because it will be very discreet.

Harr said while he is happy to see ReRev catching on at many universities, he anticipates ReRev to move into mainstream commercial areas in the future.

“Universities are often the early adopters,” he said. “They’re the ones thinking about renewable energy. Universities pick up on what is cutting edge now but will be mainstream later.”

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  • Y

    Yea...Feb 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Wouldnt it be more “environmentally friendly” if the people using this equiptment where to go outside and do their workouts? If your on, for example, a treadmill creating that 50 watts of power, thats not even enough electricity to power the light that is turned on right over that same treadmill. Make a real difference, and go outside and exercise! The fresh air won’t kill you.

    I am all about protecting our natural resources, but stuff like this is more about “feeling good” and not very much based on common sense. Then again, I am an engineering major, so I look at the actually numbers, not the “woohoo we are ‘green'” aspect.