EUGENE, OR -- Students at the University of Oregon’s (UO) student recreation center will help power the school by working out on 20 retrofitted elliptical machines tied to the electrical grid. They were debuted on May 11.

The university estimates that students will use the 20 machines for six to eight hours a day, which should generate about 6,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Officials said this amount is about enough to power a small energy efficient house for a full year.

"The ReCardio project generates a small amount of clean, renewable power on-site, but its most lasting impact will be the educational opportunity it provides for the thousands of students who use the rec center daily," Steve Mital, director of the UO Office of Sustainability, said in a statement released by the university.

The ellipticals were outfitted with devices that capture the kinetic energy created by exercising students, which is converted to electricity, then fed to a central converter before being transferred to a local power grid.

The idea to purchase the retrofitting equipment was suggested by a group of business students and a graduate student working in the school’s Energy Management Office. The resources to pay for the 20 devices came from a $7,000 EWEB Partners in Education Grant, $12,000 from the UO Office of Sustainability and $2,880 from the UO rec center advisory board. The costs cover buying the devices and installation, school officials said.

Watch for an upcoming story on energy efficiency in our June 2009 print edition of Club Industry’s Fitness Business Pro.