Update!! Parking Garage Turbines Spin!!!

I rode my bike right by this parking garage yesterday, on my way from the bank to the post office running errands, and to my astonishment the big white turbines were spinning! Well, about half of them were spinning. The two at the base were really going.

So there, I was wrong. I said the turbines “probably [couldn’t] generate enough electricity to lift the ticket gate a single time.” There was almost definitely that much electricity produced.

It sure was windy yesterday. How windy, I wondered? The bank receipt read 9:54 am, so I did some digging and found this, from a weather station a few blocks north:

Instantaneous climate data

And it was windy like this most of the day:

more pertinent data

But to consistently produce electricity, wind turbines must be consistently spinning. This is the reason that wind farms are located on agricultural farms. Consistent wind. Even one on of Chicago’s windiest (and warmest) days this winter, the turbines on the Greenway garage were apparently averaging somewhere around their cut-in speed, the point at which they begin to spin.

On site energy generation is an important component of how buildings and infrastructure will need to function in the future. We as architects have the power of persuasion with developers when it comes to including such elements in new construction. By analyzing the successes and failures of existing projects, a business model can be developed that decides that higher first cost investment is justified by offsets in building operations. The Greenway Self Park is a project that architects can learn valuable experience from, and then apply this to future urban wind projects, so they will actually do what they’re ostensibly designed to do.

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