“It’s not only good for the planet, it’s good for business,” says an enthusiastic Steve Eddleston, operating manager of Planet Fitness on Pace Avenue off Bald Hill Road. Since responding to a National Grid flier last year to make his gym more eco-friendly, Eddleston has had a lot to be happy about. He estimates the changes have reduced energy costs by 35 percent, an annual savings he says of $25,000. The gym’s success has even prompted National Grid to put Eddleston on the front cover of their fliers and website promoting their small business energy saving initiative.
Operating 24-7, lighting is a large part of Planet Fitness’s energy expenses. Powerful custom lights cover the gym’s ceiling. National Grid replaced the 400-watt bulbs in these lights with more efficient 250-watt bulbs. To further reduce energy consumption, occupancy sensor lighting was installed in the bathrooms and storage areas. This ensures no lights are needlessly running. National Grid installed some technological updates to the heating system as well.
“It allows me control and [to] monitor the temperature [of the gym] from my laptop even when I am not at the gym,” says Eddleston.
National Grid hopes Planet Fitness’ success will encourage other small businesses to join the energy efficiency program. Last year, the program partnered with 211 small businesses in Warwick and Cranston. National Grid says the energy saved from the changes is equivalent to the power needed to annually provide electricity for 450 homes.
The University of Rhode Island Outreach Center has taken on the project of spreading awareness of how other businesses can also go green. National Grid will send an energy engineer to any small business to provide a free energy assessment. The
business will then receive a report with energy saving recommendations but has no obligations to make changes.
As an incentive for businesses to join the program, National Grid has agreed to pay 70 percent of the cost of installation. As a result, Planet Fitness paid about $13,000 of the $51,000 total cost for the changes made. A percentage of National Grid’s revenue provides the funding for the program.
“Small businesses are already indirectly paying for the changes through their energy bills,” says URI Outreach Assistant Director Rachel Sholly. Last year National Grid paid $1.3 million for the energy efficient equipment upgrades. Businesses can register for the program online at powerofaction.com/smallbusiness.
As for Eddleston, he plans to implement the same green changes in the two other Planet Fitness gyms he manages in North Kingstown and Providence.