Rooftop wind turbines becoming green status symbol in New York City

Helix-shaped turbines appearing on luxury apartment buildings

May 29, 2014 |
Photo: Branko Radovanovi? via Wikimedia Commons

New York City developers are using rooftop wind turbines in an effort to attract buyers by highlighting a building’s green credentials.

A recent example is Pearson Court Square, a 197-unit apartment building in Queens which is adorned with three turbines resembling “huge carbon-fiber strands of DNA strung around a 10-foot mast,” according to the New York Times.

“We anticipated a lot of our tenants would be drawn to something different,” Ron Moelis, principal of L&M Development, the developer of Pearson Court Square, told the Times. The developer has been using sustainable design elements such as solar panels, insulated glass, and super-efficient boilers for many years. This was the developer’s first use of wind turbines.

While conventional turbines require a steady breeze of 10 miles per hour or more, helix-shaped turbines can capture winds from any direction and at lower speeds. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority helped pay about half the $100,000 installation cost and will study the turbines’ efficacy.

Some green advocates bemoan this use of funds, however.

“A tiny windmill on a big building is just silly — it might as well be a pinwheel,” said Russell Unger, executive director of the Urban Green Council. “It’s a lovely idea, if people want to pay for it and test it out, but as far as return on investment goes, it’s a waste compared to more insulation and efficient building systems.”


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