Every time I visit a Southern California college campus I leave energized and hopeful that we may someday find a way to live in a more sustainable way. As a UCI alumni I visit that campus the most but I've also visited several other campuses over the past year and the sustainability vibe is very strong at every one of them. I mentioned to some colleagues that its near impossible to go 15 minutes on any Southern California Campus and not hear someone mentioning sustainability. Its clear that these students love thinking about innovation around sustainability. That's also the reason why they love Fit for Green!
Part of our efforts this year will be directed to working closer with these students. We'll likely focus on the 4 year college campuses in Southern California and time permitting we'd also like to start visiting some of the 2 year colleges and even High Schools in our area. We'll start by working more with some of the student sustainability organizations that we've been following on Facebook. So far this year we have one Hackathon and one Sustainability Symposium with more of these events on the horizon!
Activity for Fit for Green has been low lately but we're planning to pick up the pace. Our last event was on May 25th when we attended the UCI Sustainability Symposium. We were able to share and demonstrate the latest Fit for Green developments with many of the attendees and were also able to listen to 4 great speakers. 2 of the speakers spoke about building sustainability into the product supply chain. Another speaker, a former classmate of mine, spoke about the advances of wind energy usage in Denmark. The last speaker spoke about possibilities for IBM Watson and big data in the fight for sustainability. An excellent event for networking with others that share our passion for sustainability. I'll definitely look for this event again next year!
The purpose of the video below is to supplement the Fit for Green Demo video that we released last month. The video goes into some depth on two specific feature areas of the Fit for Green platform; gamification and enviornmental charity donations. These are 2 of the feature areas that differentiate Fit for Green, and two areas that we will be spending a lot of our development time on going forward.
In recent weeks, I've been researching the nexus of Wellness and Sustainability. Part of my motivation for this research stems from the fact that we’ve been challenged to position Fit for Green as a solution for one or the other. Instead we continually get pushed back to it being for both Wellness and Sustainability. A second motivation is to rekindle what sparked the “Why” of Fit for Green. I plan to continue my research but wanted to share initial findings in this post with special attention to one research paper.
The map above illustrates the convergence of Health and Sustainability which brings us very close to the topic I set out to research. The map comes from a research paper called The Greening of Health (Falcon and Lueck, 2011). The catalyst for their research came from a larger initiative, a branch of the Institute for the Future(IFTF) called “Health Horizons Program”. The paper explains the Genealogy of touchpoints in history where health and sustainability have crossed paths as well as a potential futuristic path that has the two merging.
At Fit for Green, our goal is to add a branch to the map in “The Greening of Health”. The plan is to bring sustainability into gyms across the world, not unlike the way it was brought into youth and outdoor organizations noted in the map. It would certainly be an honor to tie Fit for Green’s lineage back to Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting and John Muir a naturalist, explorer and one of the founders of the Sierra club. Ideally, we’ll be able to bring sustainability into the gym and to make it part of wellness before the need becomes urgent.
What sparked the idea for Fit for Green, as mentioned in my Ted talk, was a firsthand experience with air pollution. I’ve heard there were places in the world where people couldn’t see the stars for months at a time because of air pollution but never imagined what that would be like. That time, when I experienced it, I didn’t have to imagine it and my feelings were of concern and disappointment. Scientific predictions that explain climate change effects as cataclysmic and catastrophic certainly don’t instill confidence that this problem is being handled adequately.
Consumers will naturally drive these solutions that blend sustainability with other goods and other places. We’re fortunate that great leaders like Elon Musk are paving the way. Most recently with his announcement to release roofing that keeps out the weather and creates power. Or even more notable, an emission free car that finally makes sense. It’s a great time to be part of using technology to drive sustainability into new places. The road, the roofs, and soon commercial gyms across the world!
Fit for Green will deliver features that provide a means for charitable contributions through exercise. These features will enable people to donate their exercise effort, while on Fit for Green equipment, to a charitable cause. While exercising for charity is not a new concept, our goal is to be the first to offer it through fitness equipment on an ongoing basis. Committing to these features will further reward our users and strengthen our commitment to address our world's sustainability issues.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore three of the key issues that we must work through as we refine the charitable donation requirements. First we’ll look at how the appeal to donors. Next, we explore some of our thinking about which charity(s) to contribute to. Lastly, is the issue of how to provide auditing and tracking to ensure accurate accounting of the donations. We do realize that there will be other details to work through but we believe that thoroughly vetting these three will start us off on the right foot.
Appealing to Donors
The plan for developing a donor base is to approach large organizations that market to the Fit for Green user base. Our thinking is that associating a donor’s brand with Fit for Green will help users to understand which brands are committed to the sustainability charities being supported. The plan is to show the logos of all the donors for a workout on the screen as user’s exercise. We will do this in a subtle and non-interfering way so that Fit for Green does not become a platform for advertising. See example below.
Deciding Which Charities to Give to
The proceeds of the charitable donations will go to charities that focus on sustainability. While some may expect Fit for Green to extend the focus on environmental sustainability, we must also appreciate that the charitable donation features will offer freedom to focus on the broader problem of sustainability as defined by the 3-pillar model shown above. This broadly accepted model defines the sustainability problem to include Social, Environmental, and Economic factors.
There are many charities to consider and bring awareness to so it becomes a challenge to decide on just 1 or what the process is for selection or many.
The following options are under consideration:
We measure the exercise per how much power is returned to the grid, we believe this is a non-controversial metric that will be consistent across machines. This will be the basis for the donation. The power returned is communicated to the users in the form of LEDs. Every 5 LEDs generated = 1 watt-hour of power being returned to the grid. This is a fair and unbiased way of measuring and reporting since it directly represents to the amount of work done. Another benefit of using LEDs generated is that the measurement is directly related to the environmental sustainability contribution of that workout.
Fit for Green will provide accounting in one or a combination of the following ways:
Fit for Green is committed to merging the issue of Sustainability with Wellness. Workouts on our machines are different because users are actively engaged in addressing our world’s sustainability issues as they exercise. This gives users a more rewarding and gratifying user experience making them feel even better about exercising.
AASHE Institutional Member
Fit for Green, Inc. Deepens Commitment to Sustainability
Fit for Green, Inc. has recently become a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to further campus efforts toward building a healthy and just world. Through membership in AASHE, Fit for Green, Inc. will receive additional support in advancing its sustainability initiatives throughout the nation and in the community.
AASHE enables higher education institutions to meet their sustainability goals by providing specialized resources, professional development, and a network of peer support. Membership covers every individual at an organization, so the entire community can take advantage of member benefits.
“We are delighted to have Fit for Green, Inc. on board and participating in the sustainability community,” said Paul Rowland, executive director of AASHE. “This shows a real commitment to playing a leadership role in some of the biggest challenges of our time, and provides the community with access to thousands of examples of best practices in sustainability.”
AASHE hosts the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a comprehensive sustainability rating system that enables institutions and organizations to measure their progress and learn from others. With STARS as a roadmap, institutions and organizations can select meaningful and appropriate pathways to sustainability while conserving valuable resources, combating global warming, and building healthier communities. AASHE also offers extensive online resources and discussion forums for professional development and sharing knowledge.
AASHE is one of two supporting organizations for the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Over hundreds of presidents and chancellors so far have committed to lead their institutions and organizations to climate neutrality as soon as possible.
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. To further its mission of empowering higher education to lead the sustainability transformation, AASHE provides resources, professional development, and a network of support to enable institutions and organizations of higher education to model sustainability in all areas, from governance and operations to education and research.
AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations. AASHE is a member-driven, independent 501(c)(3).
STARS – www.aashe.org/stars
ACUPCC – www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org
AASHE – www.aashe.org
AASHE Discussion Forums – www.aashe.org/forums
AASHE Resource Center - www.aashe.org/resources
Come on out and join us! We'll spend most of the day speaking with young engineers about sustainability. Fit for Green will have a short session before the panel to talk about contributions to sustainability through Fitness Generated Electricity. Looking forward to tapping into these young minds to brainstorm on where to go next. Maybe electricity generating aerobic floors or basketball courts? We have to get our cardio equipment out there first but its always nice to dream about future possibilities and even better when you can turn them into reality.