SDSU improves energy consumptions on campus

Luke Ganschow Columnist

 Welcome back to a new year at South Dakota State University. SDSU continually strives to be better. Having recently joined the Jackrabbit community as the energy conservation engineer, I am proud to dedicate my time, energy and knowledge toward improving the university and its facilities.

    SDSU committed itself to improving and controlling the use of energy on campus and has accomplished this goal in a variety of ways. These projects range from simple lighting upgrades and window replacements to boiler replacements, energy recovery systems, other mechanical system upgrades, heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment; all of which are important to SDSU’s commitment to energy conservation on campus.

    Provided is an overview of the university’s growth since 2005 along with corresponding data of the different energy sources used on campus. 

    Nearly 850,000 square feet of building space was added to SDSU within the past decade, which is a 31 percent increase, and the overall energy consumption decreased by nine and a half percent per square foot (SF) per degree day (DD*), which is a great accomplishment. SDSU also increased the air conditioned SF by 66 percent and increased the heated SF by 31 percent, all while using less energy per SF. Campus water consumption decreased by 18 percent per SF even with added irrigation.

    Lighting upgrades are an effective and relatively cheap way to reduce electrical energy consumption.  SDSU replaced around 95 percent of outdated, inefficient light fixtures on campus.  In the past, T12 (1.5” diameter) bulbs were used as the primary lighting source, which consume around 96 watts (W) of power per bulb.  The bulbs we use now are either T8 (1” diameter) or T5 (0.625” diameter) bulbs which consume around 25W of power per bulb, about 25 percent of the power required for a T12 bulb while providing the same amount of light. Another lighting source SDSU started to use is Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), which consume even less power, around 18W.  The university plans to replace the T12 fixtures with LED fixtures in parts of Berg Agricultural Hall, Plant Science, and the Lincoln Music Hall basement this fall.

    Along with more efficient light sources, SDSU implemented over 1,000 occupancy sensors, which works as a motion detector.  When an occupant leaves a room and no motion is detected for a given period of time, the sensor will shut off the lights until it senses motion again.  This is an effective way to prevent lights from being left on in unoccupied areas for long periods of time. Although occupancy sensors are helpful, the most effective method is to get in the habit of turning off lights when leaving a room. Also, be sure to turn off electronics (computers, AC units, fans, printers, etc.).

   *A degree day is a measure used to account for temperature variations in the weather and is very useful to get accurate data. The colder/warmer it is outside means more energy is required to heat/cool a building. Degree days account for the cold/warm weather and prevent data from being skewed.


Luke Ganschow is an Energy Conservation Engineer at SDSU and will write future columns.