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Vending Machines Receive Sustainable Upgrades

Vending machines at the University of Houston are currently receiving sustainable upgrades – with motion sensors and memory technology reducing unnecessary energy consumption.

The vending machines are receiving a box which will detect motion activity for the machine’s lights, and a sensor for the internal temperature. This way, the lights will only be activated with use and the compressor will not be running constantly.

Paul Cantu, from Coca-Cola, took a break from these installations to explain how the new boxes work.

“For the first seven days it’s actually learning the memory,” said Cantu. “Right now, it doesn’t have any memory. It picks up a pattern – how many people are walking by, how many drinks are being bought, […] it’s just learning.”

If the pattern changes on the seventh day and there is no activity, the system will record additional activity for two more days. At the end of 10 days, the lights on the machine will adjust for the pattern that it detects.

However, if activity alters significantly again, it will “re-learn”, so to speak, storing this new information and continuing to adapt.

Eventually, the data will be sufficient enough that the lights will remain off unless a person physically stands in front of the machine.

The compressors, however, cycle off and on according to the temperature of the machine, which is measured by a refrigeration sensor. This ensures that the drinks stay cold.

“It’s definitely worth it.” said Cantu. “Often times, these compressors never shut off. But this forces them to turn off.”

According to Cantu, 171 vending machines across campus will receive these upgrades. Green stickers are placed on each of the machines which read, “Coca Cola has equipped this unit with a unique energy management system that keeps drinks cold and reduces the energy consumption used.”

Cantu was pleasantly surprised at the level of student interest in this green upgrade. “I’ve been really surprised at the students that are here. They actually ask questions. They’ll stop – ‘Hey, what are you doing? What’s that sticker up there? Are y’all going green with that?’ It’s really interesting to them.”

UH keeps finding ways to be greener, adding sustainable measures such as these to serve a vital role in protecting our environment.

For more information about green initiatives at the University of Houston, visit www.uh.edu/green.