Waltham, Ma — Some health club operators are getting in on the environmental movement by switching out their normal utility services for an “on-site utility.”

Companies, such as American DG Energy Inc., can outfit health clubs with the ability to create their own energy on-site. The on-site energy can help club owners save $10,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on a facility's size.

“Our on-site utility agreement provides equipment at no cost and no operating responsibility,” says Barry J. Sanders, president and COO of the company. “The club only pays for the energy, which is discounted.”

With no capital or operating costs, the on-site utility allows clubs to produce more efficient electricity, heat, hot water and cooling. The company designs, installs, owns, operates and maintains the complete combined heat and power and cooling systems tailored to a club's specific site requirements. American DG Energy then sells the energy that is produced on-site. Clubs typically sign 15-year agreements and pay only for the energy they need and use, Sanders says.

So far, American DG Energy has worked with Club Fit in Westchester, NY; Weymouth Club in Weymouth, MA; JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, NJ; and Westfield Area YMCA in Westfield, NY.

“We are just now working with the clubs on how to market to their members,” Sanders says. “We have created a plaque that they can mount in the lobby that shows the environmental benefits in terms of acres of forest saved and automobiles removed from the road.”

The on-site utility systems can operate 24 hours a day and have greater efficiency than a standard utility power plant. A typical system at a single property can offset more than 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of planting 300 acres of forest land or eliminating the emissions of more than 190 automobiles, Sanders says.