Eugene, Or — Students at the University of Oregon's (UO) student recreation center are helping the school cut electricity costs by working out on 20 retrofitted elliptical machines tied to the electrical grid. The new equipment debuted last month.

Devices on the ellipticals capture the kinetic energy created by exercising students. That energy is converted to electricity, then fed to a central converter before being transferred to the local power grid.

An educational kiosk was set up in the rec center lobby to explain the project to students, says Dennis Munroe, UO director of physical education and recreation.

Business students and a graduate student working in the school's Energy Management Office suggested the idea to purchase the retrofitted equipment.

“Our campus has a lot of activism and student involvement around sustainability,” says Munroe. “It's a trend across the country, really. Young people in many universities are gaining an awareness about their role in protecting our future.”

The Eugene Water and Electric Board provided $7,000 in grant money for the project. The remaining funds included $12,000 donated from the UO Office of Sustainability and $2,880 from the UO rec center advisory board.

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 year.

To read more about exercise equipment that creates user-generated energy, view the online companion article to this month's cover story at www.fitnessbusinesspro.com.