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Wind Turbines Are Developers' Newest Building Ornament

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Wind turbines are starting to pop up on the roofs of new developments in the outer boroughs, and the Times is on it. But, they simultaneously ask, are the turbines actually good for anything? The answer: yes, but really no. While turbines do provide energy, the effect of having only a couple of them on top of a huge building with dozens of apartments is negligible at best. "A tiny windmill on a big building is just silly," the executive director of the Urban Green Council told the Times, while the director of the turbine program at the state energy research agency admitted, "Our installers spend more time convincing people not to build turbines than to build them." Instead of actually trying to save money (or the world), developers seem to be using the turbines as attention-grabbing decorations, trying to lure younger buyers and renters with the outward appearance of environmental consciousness.

[Wind turbine at 388 Bridge Street, viewed by from the roof deck, photo by Will Femia]

1) Brooklyn's new tallest tower, 388 Bridge Street, has two turbines sitting atop it. They power a LED light display, and even developers the Stahl Organization admit that they're basically for show (as if being the tallest building in the entire borough didn't make it stand out enough).

2) The Pearson Court Square one-ups 388 Bridge Street with three turbines. Located in Long Island City, the development is right next to Sunnyside yards, which means that there aren't any neighboring blocks to block the wind, but even so the turbines only provide enough energy to light the building's common areas.

3) An unidentified six-story affordable housing building in the Bronx is also mentioned. The developer installed a row of ten turbines in 2009, but was disappointed with the results, as they can only power the common areas "on a good day."

4) In the non-residential sphere, the new Gowanus Whole Foods has a solar and wind installation that powers the lights in the parking lot, and a Sunset Park recycling facility is planning the largest turbine in the city.

UPDATE: We received the following statement from Scott Van Pelt, Vice President of Engineering for the Urban Green Council, the company that has made most of the turbines:

On-site renewable energy, including wind turbines and solar panels, are an important part of the mix of sustainability measures that minimize a building's impact on the environment. Beyond producing a portion of a building's energy, wind turbines add value by starting a crucial conversation about all of the sustainable aspects of a building -- many of which are not as visible.

We're proud that forward-looking developers are installing our turbines to draw greater awareness to these issues, and our goal is that awareness will translate to higher demand for buildings that have put in extra effort to go green. · Turbines Popping Up on New York Roofs, Along With Questions of Efficiency [NYT]
· Go Inside And On Top Of Brooklyn's Tallest Tower, 388 Bridge [Curbed]
· The Pearson to Bring 197 Rentals to LIC's Court Square [Curbed]

388 Bridge Street

388 Bridge St, Brooklyn, NY 11201