Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, February 21, 2018

SD Mines Students Offer Plan to Save City Hall $200,000

Four South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students on the Hardrocker Sustainability Team have completed an energy audit of the Rapid City/School Administration Center (CSAC). 

RAPID CITY, SD (Feb. 20, 2018) – Four South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students on the Hardrocker Sustainability Team have completed an energy audit of the Rapid City/School Administration Center (CSAC).  The team worked in partnership with the Rapid City Sustainability Committee through the SD Mines Engineering/Science Projects for Community Service (EPICS) program. The Hardrocker Sustainability Team presented findings of their energy performance review to the City Council of Rapid City this week.

The Hardrocker Sustainability Team includes SD Mines students Jamie Caffee, Sierra Doyle, Justin Nielson and Peter Carvalho. These students spent the last five months conducting an energy performance review of CSAC to understand the energy usage of building occupants and to determine energy and cost savings opportunities. The team primarily studied the use of lighting. They also examined the use of office equipment such as printers and computers. The team conducted a brief examination of the buildings heating and cooling HVAC system.  

Team members found that replacing current lighting with energy efficient LED bulbs and fixtures will result in a large cost savings. The building contains approximate 2,000 light bulbs and fluorescent tube fixtures. The team calculated the cost of labor and material for updating the lighting in CSAC. They then calculated the annual savings from more efficient lighting and added in a 50 percent rebate from Black Hills Energy for making the change. They found LED lights would save the city approximately $9,400 per year in energy costs. The team calculates a three-year return on investment with a total savings of approximately $200,000 over the 16-year lifetime of the LED lights. The team also estimates this change will result in a 75-ton reduction of annual CO2 emissions. 

“This is a fine example of Mines’ students having a positive impact on the community through our EPICS program. These kinds of community projects give our students a chance to use their science and engineering education in real world applications that matter,” says SD Mines president Jim Rankin.  

Team members also found a significant energy savings in consolidating and networking office equipment such as scanners and printers. The audit found that currently these items are spread at a ratio of about six devices for every 10 people. ENERGY STAR guidelines recommend this ratio to be one printer or scanner for every 10 people. 

Team members conducted a brief look and survey on the building’s HVAC system. They found that renovations to the building over time did not always include moving thermostats. Some thermostats are in closets or in other hard-to-reach areas. This is one factor leading to uneven heating or cooling of the building. Team members found some office areas that are uncomfortable to work in without supplemental space heaters or fans, devices that drive up energy costs. They are recommending a more in-depth review of the CSAC HVAC system in the future for potential upgrades and renovations that could result in overall cost savings. 

Hardrocker Sustainability Team members further point out that the Rapid City School System is planning a move out of CSAC to a new location. This move will require some building renovation and city officials can maximize construction cost savings if they conduct the LED lighting and other upgrades at this same time. 

“For me, the most exciting thing about this project is that it opens the door to future relationships between Rapid City and SD Mines. There are still so many opportunities to improve; this project is a good start because it demonstrates Rapid City's devotion to sustainability,” says Jamie Caffee, a senior mechanical engineering at SD Mines, and the Hardrocker Sustainability Team spokesperson. “It is our hope that through continued partnership sustainable building design practices will become standard in our community” 

Jennifer Benning, Ph.D., associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at SD Mines serves as faculty advisor. The Hardrocker Sustainability Team will continue their work at CSAC and in other areas of the community in the coming years.



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.