On April 17, over 18,000 visitors descended on the 2010 Live Green Expo, organized by the City of Plano. The event included over 200 exhibitors who educated the community about sustainable practices and promoted products and services to help people “Go Green”. The 2010 Expo achieved a “Zero Waste Event” milestone by planning clever waste diversion strategies in advance. 1,260 pounds of materials were recycled and 1,265 pounds of organics were collected for composting. Over 90% of the waste produced by the event was diverted, and only 300 pounds of trash were generated, proving that large public events in North Texas can occur with minimal waste accumulation.
I attended the 2010 Live Green Expo representing the University of North Texas Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering to help students in our senior class deploy their capstone design project, dubbed the Pedal Power Booth. This display included a human-powered generator built around six mountain bikes that charged a bank of batteries. Energy stored in the batteries powered a large television set and a Nintendo Wii. The display was an educational spin on human-powered exercise equipment (see my post: “Collecting Energy from a Human Powered Gym“).
However, instead of trying to promote this technology for commercialization (a quick return-on-investment analysis shows it cannot be economically viable), the display’s purpose was to allow booth visitors to “feel” the amount of physical effort required to operate common entertainment center electronics. Expo visitors who alternated between playing video games and pedaling bicycles quickly realized the exhausting amount of peddling necessary to power the technology many take for granted. This experience will remind people to turn off electronics, lights, and other energy guzzling appliances when they not in use - a slight change in behavior that nonetheless has a dramatic impact on energy conservation.
Our successful educational demonstration earned UNT’s Pedal Power Booth a hat-tip from Pegasus News; see: “Live Green Expo in Plano draws speaker Joel Salatin, record crowd“.