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Urban Turbines

Pete Springer/OPB

Portlanders may have noticed a new addition to the downtown skyline this week when four wind turbines were added to the roof of developer Gerding Edlen’s new Twelve West Building on southwest 12th Avenue. These small-scale turbines (45 feet tall compared to the massive 400-foot turbines in the Columbia River Gorge) will only produce about one percent of the building’s total energy usage. However, the development company also hopes their presence will help promote renewable energy and help Portland stand out in the field. Portland isn’t the only city to try rooftop wind turbines. Boston, New York and Hampton, New Hampshire have all taken an interest in small scale wind power. Some green building experts have raised concerns about the economic and energy efficiency of urban turbines. Zoning laws would still have to change in Portland before people could install turbines on the roofs of their homes.

While the issues with integrating small-scale wind power into an urban landscape center mainly around questions of engineering and structural integrity, large-scale wind farms are still struggling with integrating their turbines with wildlife. And while urban and rural wind may still be an intermittent power source, the Bonneville Power Administration reported wind power generation was at an all time high earlier this month.

Have you considered putting a wind turbine on your home or business? What factors did you weigh in making your decision? Do you live near a rural wind farm? How has that impacted your life?

UPDATE: Sadly, we are going to start today’s show with a look at the legacy of Bob Gerding, the co-founder of Gerding Edlen Development, who died on Tuesday. Feel free to post comments here about his impact on Portland — or on green building more broadly — in addition to your thoughts on urban turbines.


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