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These Kids Are Powering Their School Just By Walking

January 20, 2014
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These Kids Are Powering Their School Just By Walking
Alex Wong/Getty Images
You've heard of wind and solar power...but what about floor power?

There are few schools in the world that would encourage students to stomp up and down the hallway, but at Riverdale Country School in New York City, the kids might be encouraged to do just that — and learn about sustainability while they’re at it.

The college prep school is the first in the country to install Pavegen floor tiles that harness kinetic energy from foot traffic and convert it to electricity, Riverdale announced. The tiles — installed right outside the cafeteria — are linked to two LED boards that displays the amount of energy produced when stepped on. It’s also connected to a stand that charges smart phones, the school said. So how much power can the simple act of walking produce? As Fast Company reported on the product, “Each footstep can generate between one and seven watts, or about 30 seconds of light for an LED street lamp.”

MORE: Too Much Sitting Isn’t Just Bad For Your Health, It Wastes Energy 

These mostly rubber floor tiles have a greater purpose beyond saving money on electricity bills: the students are learning all about clean power. Pavegen inventor Laurence Kemball-Cook told Fast Company, “If the students spend a year walking over the PaveGen tiles, they’ll know about sustainability.” The technology works best in places with high foot traffic and has been successfully installed at the Paris Marathon, the London 2012 Olympic Games, and about a dozen schools in the UK. Kemball-Cook hopes it’ll soon come to a floor near you: “Our aim is to take the same price as normal flooring. And then it can be in every normal floor in the world. It can be seamlessly linked to data, to your home, to your school.”

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