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Pierre’s Prototype for Wind and Solar - Capitol Lake Plaza

June 3, 2010 - 3:22pm


Capitol Lake Plaza sits centrally on Pierre, S.D.’s government plaza. Originally built in 1974, the building has been undergoing major energy renovations since being purchased by the state two years ago. Two major components of the renovation are about to appear at the building’s highest point: solar panels and wind turbines are being installed on the roof.

The 80 photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system and two vertical wind turbines will produce up to 40 percent of the building’s total energy usage, says Rich Ivey, project engineer at South Dakota’s office of the state engineer.

“The combination of vertical wind turbines and solar panels will maximize the on-site generation and meet structural and space limitations,” says Ivey.”The decision to use both solar and wind was to diversify the on-site generation opportunities.”

Preliminary estimates show that by producing a portion of its own power, Capitol Lake Plaza will save nearly $37,000 a year on energy costs—an amount that will pay back the investment in only 15 years.

“It’s going to serve as a prototype building,” says Ivey. “It’s the first commercial building in the city that has on-site power generation. It’s really a showcase project for other buildings looking to do projects like this.”

Putting the pieces together

While the renovation itself is coming from South Dakota’s state budget, all of the energy components of the project are being funded by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s State Energy Program.

Two years ago, South Dakota passed legislation that all new and major renovations to government owned buildings had to meet the “silver” standard set forth by the United States Green Building Council (USCBG)’s LEED certification system.

As a result of the LEED certification, the building will not only receive solar panels and wind turbines; it will install many environmentally-friendly measures in the new building including high-efficiency lighting and low-flow bathroom fixtures.

Real-time monitoring

Another one of the building’s new features will be a real-time monitor in the building’s entry way displaying how much energy is being produced on site.

Ivey hopes this kiosk—which will also show information about LEED certification—will serve as an observation point for anyone coming into the building.

When the building is complete, it will house 120 employees from two offices: the South Dakota Lottery Office and the Department of Tourism and State Development.

“The building occupants are excited about being a part of this project, knowing that the improvements will favorably impact the energy use while provide a much healthier working environment. The community is watching with anticipation,” says Ivey.