Building Integrated Wind in Chicago

A mixed-use project in Chicago has been getting a lot of attention for its green elements.  Most noticeable, perhaps, is the beveled corner that holds 12 vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWT) by Helix Wind.  The turbines are stacked in two columns on the building’s southwest corner and were included in the HOK designed-facade to cover all exterior lighting costs.

If successful, Greenway could pave the way for similar installations in all kinds of buildings, including future condo and multifamily projects.  The turbines grab wind from all directions and can start generating electricity in as low as 11.1 mph winds, according to Architect Magazine.

Helix S594 is the aluminum turbine used in this structure and it retails for about $16,000.  S594 can produce up to 4.5 kW of power, according to the manufacturer, depending on myriad factors, including, without limitation, wind conditions and siting.

Each turbine measures 16’x4′ and weighs approximately 1,330 pounds.  A steel support tube, steel base plate, and second steel support tube brace each turbine to the chamfered, windy corner of Greenway Self Park.

Credits: Flickr/John Picken.

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  • drgreen

    I have watched those turbines for months now and have only seen them make maybe a quarter rotation at best. This is green washing at its best

  • MrSteve007

    Complete, utter and total greenwashing. The first wind turbine company they specced pulled out of the project because they were worried about how low the wind resources were at the site:

    “Greenway’s turbines were made by Helix Wind, though the initial plan was to use Aerotecture, a Chicago-based solar and wind energy company. But after studying the wind patterns near the garage, the company decided the site was too “low power,” says Bil Becker, Aerotecture CEO. To avoid making himself–and the burgeoning wind-power industry–look bad, they withdrew from the project. “They’ll try to [force] you into building a sculpture, he says, “but we don’t make sculptures.”

  • Wells Rawls

    I have to agree with the other comments. Who would sink a turbine down into an cityscape with other buildings around to block the wind? Moreover when is a parking garage going to be built out in a field where there is enough wind? This is a example of design over function.

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