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Dining Services Installs Green Technology to Reduce Energy Use

eCube in a Pomona College walk-in refrigerator

Pomona College Dining Services has added new energy-saving technology as part of its continuing efforts to increase the sustainability of its operations. Last spring, Dining partnered with students in the Environmental Analysis Senior Seminar to test three green technologies to reduce resource use. Based on the positive results, Dining has purchased eight eCubes, one for each of its walk-in refrigerators and freezers.

The eCube fits over a cooler’s thermostat and mimics food temperature, increasing a cooler’s efficiency. In most coolers, the thermostat measures air temperature, which can increase rapidly when the door is opened, causing the cooling unit to switch on, making the refrigeration unit work harder than necessary. “When fitted to the thermostat sensor, which controls the compressor, an eCube® significantly reduces the frequency of the refrigeration cycles which are now based on food temperature rather than fluctuating air temperature,” according to manufacturer’s website.

Five EA students worked with Dining staff to test several new sustainable technologies in the kitchens: John Hasses, Shahriyar Zarafshar, Hsuanswei Fan, Erika Falsgraf and Jeremiah Steuterman. For the eCube, they performed a two-week test in Frary’s walk-in freezer. Installing the eCube produced 19% reduction in energy use and a 56% reduction in cooling cycles. Based on the energy savings, about 27,000 kWh, the eight new eCubes should produce a cost savings of approximately $3,000 per year, leading to a payback period of 16 months. Because the eCubes also make the cooling systems more efficient, by reducing the number of cooling cycles, additional savings in mechanical costs and maintenance are also expected.

“We were realty excited about the eCube results,” says Samantha Meyer, sustainability and purchasing coordinator for Dining Services. “It’s a relatively inexpensive technology that is easy to install and results in big energy savings.”

The same group of students also tested turbopots and low flow, higher-pressure water nozzles in the Frank Dining Hall. “The turbopots seem to work well, but they haven’t fit into our operation quite yet,” says Meyer. “The low flow nozzles are great, and we will use those as we replace old nozzles.” 

For more information on the technology visit