OPINION: The Rec’s new sustainable machines aren’t worth the price

The new clean energy exercise machines purchased for the Rec are wasting more money than they are saving energy. ORACLE PHOTO/ ALEXANDRA URBAN

The Recreation and Wellness Center’s new SportsArt ECO-POWR ellipticals, cycles and treadmills will look, feel and operate like normal gym equipment if not for one key aspect: they will help power the lights and air conditioning.

However, the $66,000+ price tag on the machines sheds light on the current sacrifice needed to commit to energy efficiency.

USF’s initiative to pay hefty prices for energy efficiency is a positive move, but the high costs prevent a dependence on energy saving equipment.

If the high price tag is divided evenly among each of the new pieces of gym equipment, USF paid over $5,500 for each treadmill, elliptical and bike. Realistically, the cost per machine is lower, as installation likely significantly increased the overall price tag.

The cost of the project at USF included the machines, the installation and the materials to set up WiFi for the machines, according to a March 10 Oracle article.

Technogym is the brand currently used at the Rec. If USF had installed 12 of its non-electricity generating treadmills — each priced at $3,450 —  it would have saved over $2,000 for each machine.

Even after accounting for the high fee of installing energy efficient equipment, the cost for each machine is still greater than the cost of the Technogym machines. In part, this is due to the demand for energy efficiency. These machines must also be complex enough to have the capability to create energy.

With long-term use, the electricity producing capabilities of the new machines may prove to be cost-efficient by saving money on lighting and air conditioning. However, a $66,000 initial price tag is a strong deterrent from going green, regardless of long-term savings.

USF should continue to promote energy efficiency on campus. But until the costs of green equipment decrease, don’t expect continued major changes on campus.