Luther and Pepsi collaborate to save energy by turning lights out in vending machines

Feb. 18, 2010

It’s “lights out” for vending machines on the Luther campus. Luther College, in collaboration with Pepsi, has removed the lights from 32 beverage vending machines on campus in an effort to conserve energy as part of Luther’s sustainability initiative.    

The once energy-consuming lights have been replaced by signs that explain why the lights are out, educating students about the energy saved by de-lamping the vending machines.   

Removing the lights from just one machine saves 3.34 kilowatt hours per day, resulting in approximately 1,219 kilowatt hours saved per year.

Previously, the electricity used to light the vending machines was produced by fossil fuels, resulting in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The lights in one vending machine produced approximately 1,674 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. 

“By de-lamping 32 machines, Luther will save nearly 53,600 pounds of carbon dioxide each year,” said Maren Stumme-Diers, Luther assistant sustainability coordinator.     

“After compiling a list of vending machines on campus, everyone I spoke to on the Luther campus supported the idea,” said Stumme-Diers. “With approval from campus security, residence life and facilities, we were able to put the de-lamping process in motion.”    

A few years ago, Luther installed vending misers in all the campus vending machines. The misers worked to regulate the machine temperatures to save energy, and they also had smart sensors that detected whether the machine has been used in the last few minutes. If it hadn’t, the machine would enter into an energy saving mode.    

“The de-lamping of the machine goes one step farther than the misers,” said Stumme-Diers.  “This was Pepsi’s idea, and they were excited to see how this initiative fits so well with Luther’s energy conservation goals and programming.”  

In conjunction with the de-lamping project, Luther is discussing getting more redeemable containers from Pepsi to help collect cans a bottles that require a five-cent deposit. The proceeds from returning the containers will go to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Currently, students place most of their redeemable containers into general recyclable materials bins on campus.  A student recycling crew picks up the bins a few times each week and delivers them to the lower level of the Red Barn on campus, where they are sorted by the Habitat for Humanity group.     

Increasing the number of redeemable container bins is expected to speed th sorting and handling process.      

“These projects are examples of ways Luther and Pepsi can work together towards our sustainability commitments and goals,” said Stumme-Diers.