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Lilly Center changes should be energy efficent

By Sunny Strader
On March 1, 2012

  • Junior goal keeper Maggie Steele who is tied for 1st in Depauw History for Career Shutouts (24). PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDA STRIGGO

When it comes to exercising, the element of vanity should be replaced with something constructive.

We work out to shrink our waists and tone our arms. We work out to wear bikinis and fit into jeans. What if all the energy we produced via exercise could be used for the betterment of mankind?

Students walk — and sometimes drive — to the Lilly Center in order to eliminate the calories acquired via Marvin's, The Den or the Hub. People seeking a cardio workout enlist the help of exercise equipment, like the treadmill or the stationary bike. We pedal, we row, we elliptical, and we run — without going anywhere. Gym rats exercise at exasperating rates using extraordinary amounts of energy.

The board of trustees recently approved a proposal concerning the renovation of the Lilly Center. I propose we renovate the facility with machines that generate electricity.

Electricity can be produced by converting the direct current from pedaling into an alternate current that shoots back to a power grid, according to Jay Whelan, CEO of the Green Revolution bike company.

When one uses a stationary bike with resistance, he or she creates heat. Unfortunately, our bikes here at DePauw do not store or save this by-product. The energy is completely wasted.

New weights and more space seem like enticing elements of a new Lilly, but stationary bikes with generators are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient machines that would benefit the masses.

ReRev, a leading company in the production of electricity-generating bikes, claims that one can purchase a retrofitted aerobic machine for about $1,000 a piece.

Imagine how much money the university would save in electricity bills if DePauw invested in such machines. Imagine how many natural resources we would preserve if DePauw adopted this trend.

Drexel University, James Madison University, Oregon State University, Texas State University and the University of Florida have already joined the bandwagon. A homeless shelter in Detroit opened its doors in 2009 with an invitation for the impoverished to get exercise and produce electricity for the city.

ReRev estimates that a spin class operating with over 20 people over the course of a year could produce enough electricity to light 72 homes for a month.

While it is apparent that there is much room for improvement, no skeptic can argue that this innovation is entirely pointless.

Last November, President Casey stated at the Campus Climate Forum that DePauw is "moving to a very mature place…DePauw is joining the world conversation of other elite institutions." Investing in retrofitted, electricity-producing aerobic equipment (bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, etc.) seems like a strategic move in DePauw's maturity process.

Let us convert our acts of vanity to a progressive movement.

— Strader is a sophomore from Danville, Ill., majoring in art history. 

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