CASE STUDY #1
MCGLYNN ELEMENTARY and
This municipality-owned turbine at the McGlynn Elementary and Middle School was identified as an opportunity for energy independence by Medford, MA.
Installed in February of 2009, the congested city site was
predicted by AWS Truepower to have an average wind resource of 4. 6 m/s ( 10. 3 mph), but in actuality has experienced
winds of 4. 3 m/s ( 9. 6 mph). As a result, the annual energy
output has been lower than anticipated but well within expectations for this type of urban installation.
The low height profile of the 37-meter tower and quiet
permanent magnetic direct-drive (PMDD) operation ensure
that the school’s neighbors are not adversely affected. A web
monitoring program tracks energy output, carbon emission
offsets, cost savings, and other historical data that can be
accessed online by classrooms and the community.
“The opportunity with wind for schools is not only to edu-
cate tomorrow’s leaders about energy and the environment,
but also to gain real savings that can translate to teacher
positions, arts programs, facility improvements, and even
asks. “Each of these goals directly impacts the size of
2) Calculate Your Wind Resource
the turbine you need.”
Beyond diversifying their energy sources, the
majority of owners use wind to manage their utility
spend. It’s key to know how much your building is
consuming so you can appropriately match the tur-
bine output, says Adam Miller, founder of Summit De-
sign + Build. Even better, use submetering throughout
your facility. This will lay the groundwork for ROI
if you can concretely say your wind generation in a
given year will satisfy 100% of your lighting needs or
85% of your HVAC consumption.
Wind resource is the amount of wind your site
receives annually. Sure, you can step outside and feel
the direction of a stiff breeze by licking your finger
and sticking it in the air, but that’s only good for
movie characters, not real life.
“If you’re going to spend seven figures on a tur-
bine, you want to make sure the wind is going to be
there,” says Ari Killian, project manager for Summit
Design + Build.
Note that the viability of wind power is dependent
on geography, adds Killian. Solar is likely to have an
edge in southern and western states, but wind is more
prevalent in the plains and coastal areas. And even
if your region has strong wind throughout the year,
performance varies on a daily basis, even more so
than sunny days.
“Wind speeds can fluctuate between 20 to 25%
each year, whereas solar is within 2 to 3%,” Atkinson
There are two ways a commercial property can as-
sess its wind resource. The most common is to
use national weather data.
“There are a number of online databases that
“Every year you collect data, you radically reduce
utilize hundreds of weather stations. While they
are a pay-for service, you can put in your building
location and it will give you a highly accurate
assessment of your wind resource,” says Atkinson.
“For a single distributed-scale turbine project that’s
100, 200, or even 300 k W, the online data is ex-
tremely reliable. We’re talking about a nominal 3 to
4% accuracy range from what is measured on-site to
what was predicted.”
The other option is to install a wind tower that uses
anemometry to document wind speeds, says Miller.
This is the same technology a wind farm developer
uses to study the microclimate of a potential site.
These feasibility studies are an added expense and
typically run for several years, but they may save you
from installing a wind turbine that ultimately won’t
meet your goals.
the uncertainty of your wind resource,” emphasizes
3) Determine Your Siting
Given how large these structures are, you need to
carefully consider where on your property to place
Even if you have the land space required, you can’t
just plop these anywhere, Killian stresses. There’s the
view of your neighbors to consider, adjacent structures,
bird safety, airport traffic, power lines, and even landscaping such as tall trees.
Your municipality will have zoning guidelines you
other renewable energy projects,” noted Michael J. McGlynn, mayor of Medford
at the time of installation.
The city obtained incentives from numerous sources, such as the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust LORI grant, Massachusetts Energy Consumers
Alliance grant, Clean Energy Choice grants through the National Grid GreenUp
Program, annual renewable energy credits, state appropriation general laws,
and Chapter 312 of the Acts of 2008.
www.buildings.com BUILDINGS 27
INFORMATION AND IMAGES COURTESY OF NORTHERN POWER SYSTEMS