Over the weekend, Hoffman Construction lifted four Southwest Windpower turbines into place on top of a new building, Twelve West. Located at Southwest 12th Avenue and Washington Street, Twelve West includes a mixture of office and apartment spaces and was designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects to achieve LEED Platinum certification. ZGF included the turbines in early renderings, and developer Gerding Edlen, probably the foremost green developer on the West Coast, determined to give the turbines serious chance.
The turbines appear to be the first to be applied to a building in Portland. According to the Portland Business Journal, Gerding Edlen, ZGF, and Energy Trust of Oregon all chipped in to pay for the small wind turbines, and only time will tell if the investment pays off.
In May 2009, Building Green ran a feature article entitled, "The Folly of Building-Integrated Wind," which put a damper on the excitement growing for urban, small wind innovation. Executive Editor of Environmental Building News and all around green building guru, Alex Wilson, wrote, "[building-integrated wind] turbines must overcome several challenges to meet performance expectations and be cost effective."
Which means, in most cases, building integrated wind doesn't make sense …
But I guess you could say there's still a chance that building integrated does make sense, and that's what the project team for Twelve West wants to figure out. The turbines cost about $10,000 each and together provide ~9,000 kilowatt hours yearly, or roughly one percent of the building's electricity. But this project isn't just about generating energy, it's about learning what works and what doesn't. And Twelve West will be a good laboratory for that.
Photo credits: Indigo @ Twelve West.