Family health center showcases 'green' business practices during monthly sustainability event

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Christopher Card, operator of Olympic Gym, gives a tour to a group of green-minded community members.For Christopher Card, operator of Olympic Gym, a passion for sustainability was instilled at a young age.

"My mom and dad got me into being green," Card said, "So if we teach the younger generation it will stick with them as well."

The family health club has since become an example for other businesses across East Multnomah County looking to reduce waste. From the time the Card family bought and moved into Olympic Gym's location at 23500 S.E. Stark St., they have made changes to improve the quality for members and to search for new ways to reduce their footprint on the environment.

Card showcased the efforts at the club during the latest Gresham Resource Efficiency Assistance To (GREAT) Businesses program's Green Coffee Hour Wednesday morning, June 27. Those who attended also got to tour the facility, which includes a cardio room, smoothie counter, pool and spa, multiple weight rooms, a basketball court, daycare facility, tanning room and cycling studio.

Olympic Gym added LED lighting, important for a business with such long operating hours, and put in huge windows and skylights to utilize natural light as much as possible. That allowed the gym to significantly reduce its monthly electricity bill.

"I am a huge believer in LED lights," Card said. "It has made a big difference."

Another important change was reducing the use of paper towels by members looking to dry off or clean equipment after an intense workout. The gym implemented washable gym towels for staff and clients, buying old hospital towels that were destined for the garbage basket. While there are still paper towels available, the new system has proved popular at the club.

For the pool and spa, Olympic Gym turned to a high-tech new system. They put in place low-energy Jacuzzi pumps, upgraded their hot water system and began using an ultra-violet and salt system to reduce pool chemicals. Card's favorite part is that if the levels in the water are off, the pool system will send him real-time updates via Wi-Fi.

Olympic Gym, which is celebrating its 24th year at the current location, has worked hard to be more sustainable while still providing the best service possible for members. And while it has received numerous recognition from the GREAT program, there is always more that can be done.

"Being green is a never-ending project," Card said. "But it's one we are excited to keep working on."

The GREAT program provides free outreach to help reduce waste, water and energy while certifying businesses throughout the community for their sustainable efforts.

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