Pedaling Global Warming

There are eco-friendly clubs springing up in big U.S. cities, using conservation techniques that reduce the byproducts of food and beverage sales and generate in-house electricity, among other options.

Clubgoers like to par-tay, and the environmentally conscious hipsters will drive to the clubs in hybrid cars – unaware that the nightspots likely use 140 times the energy of an average household.

Now, in a year of Live Earth concerts and an environmentally aware Wal-Mart, clubs are springing up that use less energy and have less byproduct.

Chicago club owner Mark Klemen has built the Butterfly Social Club where employees make most of the drinks, avoiding the excess of waste of cans and cardboard boxes. The club sits next door to his other, established club that follows standard protocol but, "at the end of the night we have 19 trash cans full of bottles. Yeah, we recycle them, but where are they going?"

Employees at the Butterfly Social Club pedal on a bicycle to power the DJ booth and drink machines. The club is built out of waste products like clay and straw, has a recycled wood floor and uses solar panels.

Manhattan club owner John B. is opening a new club called Greenhouse that is also built from recycled materials. The venue is applying for LEED certification, a designation granted by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

South Beach has a few eco-friendly clubs where the dance floors are illuminated by LEDs, which give off five times the light as an incandescent bulb for the same amount of energy, experts say.

In the Netherlands, a company called Enviu is working on a prototype dance floor that captures the vibration of dancers and transfers it to batteries.

But is any of this reducing energy?

"Without them providing an estimate of energy reduction or environmental impact, it seems like hype to me," said Glenn Hill, a Texas Tech University professor who specializes in sustainable architecture.