RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — An energy audit by South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students has found Rapid City could save thousands of dollars by installing energy-efficient lighting in its administration center.

The four students studied energy usage at the City/School Administration Center in Rapid City over five months through a partnership with the city's sustainability committee and the school's community service program. They discovered that replacing old lighting technology could save the city almost $10,000 annually.

Student Jamie Caffee told the Rapid City Journal that 2,000 light fixtures could be switched from incandescent and fluorescent-style lighting to LED technology. The lighting changes alone are estimated to save about $9,400 annually and nearly $200,000 based on the projected 16-year lifespan of LED lighting. The move could also result in a 75-ton reduction of yearly carbon dioxide emissions.

Caffee said the team also found an unnecessary amount of office equipment and inefficient heating and cooling systems, which are driving up energy usage.

"There is a heck of a lot of office equipment in this building, much more than an office building should have," he said.

Caffee said the building's remodeling over the years has created inefficiency in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

The students presented their findings at a city council meeting last week. They recommended that the upcoming move of the Rapid City Area Schools offices to another building could be a good time to implement the lighting fixes.

Ward 2 Alderman Ritchie Nordstrom said changes likely won't happen this first year.

"But I believe it deserves more scrutiny," he said. "I look forward to hearing more about this."


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com