UB Saves $21,000 Annually with "Green" Vending Machines

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: February 17, 2006

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo is leading the way in energy savings as the first university in the country to completely replace its campus-wide beverage vending machines with green technology.

A study recently released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that UB saves nearly $21,000 a year on electricity due to new energy-efficient beverage vending machines installed in August 2004 in all campus facilities, said Mitch Green, executive director of Campus Dining and Shops.

A previous study found that before the installation of the new machines, the university's yearly energy bill for beverage vending machines was $50,000.

In terms of power, UB now saves more than 260,000 kilowatt-hours annually.

"The energy savings at the University at Buffalo are preventing the emission of over 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas," said Kate Lewis, marketing manager of the EPA's Energy Star program.

Green said UB began to investigate energy-efficient vending at the end of 2003 after the expiration of the university's "pouring rights" contract with a former vendor. Walter Simpson, UB energy officer, requested the university take advantage of the situation to explore greener options.

When a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the new beverage contract was circulated, it asked that the potential vendor provide "energy-efficient vending machines for all facilities." Pepsi won the new contract and its vendor, Dixie-Narco Inc., supplied UB with 132 energy-efficient beverage machines. Green said that compared to traditional machines, the new models are not only more environmentally friendly, but "there wasn't an appreciable difference in the cost."

"They work just as well as the old machines," he added. In fact, aside from the machines' new look and Energy Star labels, he said students can't tell the difference.

"The University at Buffalo actually got the first 100 energy-efficient beverage machines Dixie-Narco ever produced," he noted.

The New York State Research and Development Authority contacted UB about conducting a study, said Green, and the project soon developed into an EPA project. The EPA, he explained, oversees the Energy Star program and wanted to test the first of the energy-efficient machines produced by Dixie-Narco in real-world operation.

Green said there currently are few companies nationwide producing energy-efficient vending machines. However, Lewis noted that UB's leadership and the dramatic savings revealed by the EPA are spurring interest in such green machines.

Last month, she explained, Simpson posted a message to a "green schools" listserv that touted the results of the study. "An added advantage to achieving energy savings," he wrote, "is that it puts pressure on beverage distributors to shift to energy-efficient vending."

Lewis said Simpson received a number of positive responses from officials who say their institutions intend to follow UB in exploring energy-efficient options.

UB's strong stand on energy efficiency is paying off in more ways than one, said Lewis.

"The University at Buffalo is showing the world that partnerships between business and environmental concerns can lead to results that benefit everyone."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.