EcoMill: Just how energy efficient is it?

By Katie Luong

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Hello again, from Team Energy! One of our projects this year involves finding ways to increase energy efficiency in the John Wooden Center at UCLA. This week, our team visited the gym and looked out for EcoMills, eco-friendly treadmills purchased by UCLA.

What is so special about these treadmills? According to Woodway, the manufacturer of EcoMill, “The EcoMill is a totally self-powered treadmill that provides a unique green alternative…[and] has been proven to burn up to 30% more calories than motorized treadmills, engaging more muscles for a superior workout.” EcoMill treadmills have the ability to convert kinetic motion such as walking or running into alternative energy.  In fact, the company claims each mph of speed equates to an average of 16 watt hours (Woodway). In other words, a person exercising at 5 mph would produce 80 watt hours! This energy can then be fed back into a building’s electrical system to power other uses.

Naturally, we expected people to use EcoMills because of their health and environmental benefits. Instead, we found that most EcoMills were either not being used or were out of order, and many people were using standard treadmills instead. Our approach to tackle this problem is to obtain and analyze data usage on EcoMills and strategize ways to promote EcoMills and its benefits. We plan to promote energy efficiency at the Earth Day Fair and at Ecochella, UCLA's annual bike-powered concert. Ecochella will allow us to gather raw data on the amount of energy generated from riding bikes, which can be applied to stationary bikes at the gym.

Our ultimate goal is to educate students to make their workouts more eco-friendly. If we can persuade more students to use EcoMills, we may be able to generate enough energy to power other facilities on campus!  Together, we can make UCLA more sustainable.  Next time you go to the gym, use EcoMills!