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Vending company cuts electric bill 40%

When the City of Evanston announced it had hired a sustainable programs coordinator, the city’s focus on increasing sustainable practices inspired a company already doing business with the city to play an active role in its green movement.

Daniel and Mark Stein, residents of Evanston and co-owners of Mark Vend Company, identified a way to help the City reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The brothers, whose Northbrook company stocks 46 vending machines in 16 city buildings, designed energy-saving vending misers and installed the devices on almost all of the City’s machines, making Evanston an energy-saving beta test site on Mark Vend Company’s client list.

"We want to help the City meet its energy saving mission," Daniel Stein, Mark Vend vice president, said. "Retrofitting the machines with these devices was the right thing to do."

Stein said vending machines fall into the category of devices called ‘vampire loads’ that draw power constantly. "Their lights are always on, even when no one is in the room eying their contents," he said. Mark Vend covered the costs of $4,000 plus labor that included motion sensors and misers that work together to reduce vending machines’ energy usage by as much as 40 percent.

Evanston’s vending machines were estimated to use 2,547,934 kilowatt-hours; with the misers installed, the machines will only use 1,568,206 kilowatt-hours.

The annual savings is equivalent to electric usage for 98 homes; 1,926 barrels of oil; or 158 cars removed from the road and is estimated to prevent 2,351,345 pounds of carbon monoxide from being emitted per year. Evanston taxpayers will realize a financial savings of approximately $5,000 annually.

A vending machine is plugged into the vending miser, which is attached into a wall and plugged into an outlet. The motion sensor is plugged into the vending machine. "Lights will come on if someone triggers the motion sensors," Stein said. Additionally, Stein said the misers increase the efficiency of the machine compressors. "The machines run less frequently, but keep the integrity of the products,"

Stein said. "Soft drinks stay cold; there’s no need for the compressors to run continuously." Machines with snacks only do not have compressors to maintain a temperature; therefore, only motion sensors were required. "Lights in the snack machines stay off 12 hours a day," Stein said. Stein said two of the machines were not done because they were too old and not compatible with the retrofit.

Carolyn Collopy, Evanston’s sustainable programs coordinator, said, "We are grateful to have such an environmentally-committed and generous partner as a vender."

"The place to be environmentally responsible is businesses," he said. "If everyone takes these kinds of steps, they will contribute toward bigger solutions."

Mark Vend is investigating other ways to be environmentally-friendly. The company is testing Eco Cups for coffee at the City’s Robert Crown Center, 1701 Main St., and plans to bring the cups in for use throughout the other City buildings. The cups are lined with a corn-based resin, instead of oil, that are compostable and break down faster in landfills.

Additionally, Stein said Mark Vend will install rain barrels at their garages to collect rain water for washing their trucks and will plant prairie grass to replace half of the grass in front of their warehouse.

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