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April 12, 2011

Toronto 2061 Tower Wind Generators

by mark mclean

Part of the discussions around what Toronto might look like in 50 years includes changing the ways we use energy. Recently I attended a company sponsored lecture on green technologies in the building industry given by CMHC and I started to think about our construction crazy downtown core and wondered if a residential or office tower could generate its own power? Take a look at two examples of forward design and engineering. The first picture is of the Strata Tower in South London.  It is one of the first high rises to incorporate wind turbines in the design. The 42 floor building consists of over 400 suites and has three 19 kilowatt turbines that will hopefully produce 50 megawatt hours of power each year or 8% of the energy required to run this building. Each turbine has five 30 foot blades. Recently Strata Tower, nicknamed “The Razor” was voted Britain’s ugliest building. One of the judges proudly exclaimed that he would feel ill if he had to look at it every day. Love it or hate it, the building is on the leading edge and it certainly captures the imagination.

Check out The Phare Tower designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects located in Paris. At 300 metres high, it is the largest skyscraper in Paris and one of the tallest in The European Union. The design includes a host of energy saving features but of particular interest is the cluster of helical vertical-axis wind turbines that sit above the 69 floor office building. It is a powerful statement of environmental responsibility literally crowning the building. The energy generated is meant to power the upper floors of the tower.

So, here are two examples. There are many more out there. Obviously the idea of putting wind turbines on residential and office towers is a bold idea.  Back in 2008, in a speech delivered at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas,  New York mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested wind turbines on the tops of skyscrapers and bridges would help make his city greener.  It will be interesting to see if it is an idea that will catch on. Lets hope it will deliver on promises of lower energy costs without breaking the bank. But if positive performance data continues to be gathered, it is only a matter of time before it could be a common feature in the downtown core. One thing is for sure, buildings of the future will need to, whether through legislation or public demand, adapt some strategies to become somewhat energy neutral.


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