Green’ is the color of money

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

Finding ways to improve SDSU and make it more energy efficient – and therefore more “green” – is an ongoing process that SDSU’s Facilities and Services Department works towards.

Robert Milbrandt, the Energy Conservation Engineer at SDSU, said his job is to implement the university’s planned projects as they come through or to propose new ones as they study the buildings and find things that need upgrading.

“Energy costs have been going up year after year,” Milbrandt said, and the costs for next year are estimated to rise even more, from the $2,788,456 it cost them in 2007 to $3,269,233 in 2008 to $3,761,782 in 2009.

“As costs keep going up, I’m sure we’ll be stressing more and more of these projects,” he said.

In 2008, their projects included steam tunnel upgrades to reduce heat loss and replacing the existing lights in the HPER Center – many of which are original from when the building was built, around 38 years ago – with modern, more energy efficient fixtures.

Dorm windows, which are very inefficient, are slowly going to be replaced, Milbrandt said, but “window replacement is costly.” Mathews had its windows replaced last summer, and Brown will have the same done this year.

“It’s a slow-moving process,” Milbrandt said, “because we’re sort of dictated on funding, that we can’t just go through and replace stuff without money being tied to it.”

Right now, the department is working on the smaller, easier projects around campus. “Once you get the easy things to replace ? done, the rest of the energy efficiency upgrades become more costly, and they become much bigger projects,” he said.

All new buildings will be much more energy efficient. The South Dakota State Legislature has mandated that all buildings must now be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited, an energy efficiency rating system. According to the U.S. Green Building Council Web site, the LEED Rating System “is a third party certification program and the nationally-accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.”

“That means we have to be designing the [new] buildings at a fairly high energy efficiency level,” Milbrandt said. “At least all the new buildings will be energy efficient, and we’ll have to work on getting the old ones up to speed.”