the most promising products, so keep a sharp eye out for
“You want to make sure the machine has third-party
verification or reports that validate how the turbine will
behave, particularly with acoustics and power curve,”
There are two certifying bodies for wind turbines:
The International Electrotechnical Commission
(IEC) offers comprehensive wind turbine metrics. These
includes design requirements, acoustic noise measurement techniques, measurement of mechanical loads,
and communications for monitoring and control of wind
The Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) ap-plies to small and medium turbines and has been adopted
by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). It
covers rated annual energy output, power, and sound
level. Certified turbines must also satisfy durability and
Power curves, annual energy performance curves,
“I would also urge any prospective investor to get project
and measured sound pressure levels are provided for all
models. Note the standard only verifies test results rather
than conducts them, and towers and foundations are not
within its scope.
references from a manufacturer’s clients,” adds Atkinson.
6) Anticipate Maintenance Service and Warranty
Your car needs periodic oil changes and so will your
turbine eventually. These units are not maintenance-free
and preventive upkeep is key to preserving your invest-
ment for years on end.
Like your roof, wind turbines are offered with a warranty, though these vary by manufacturer. Two years is
average for a utility-scale turbine and smaller ones may
offer up to five years of coverage, says Atkinson. These
generally cover parts for failures, though not always labor
for those repairs.
Maintenance can be purchased as a separate contract
through your vendor or you can connect with an indepen-
dent firm that specializes in maintenance services. Expect
one or two yearly visits for scheduled maintenance.
Blown Away by ROI
There’s no denying that the price tag of a wind turbine
may make some building owners blanch, but most would
be surprised to know they only need to wait a decade or
so to reap free energy.
“Make no doubt, these turbines pay for themselves
Beyond your utility bill, look for soft benefits. Intrigued
in 10-15 years, which is faster than geothermal or solar,”
Miller says. “Our clients aren’t speculative developers
that are going to turn around and immediately sell the
property. These are businesses that are building facilities
that will last 100 years, which allows owners to take a
long-term view with ROI and payback.”
“There’s three legs to the wind ROI stool – wind re-
source, utility rates, and incentives and grants,” Atkinson
adds. “You don’t have to be in a super windy spot or in a
high utility region. If you can get those three metrics to
align and optimize your upfront costs, wind can work out
Beyond local and state funding, owners can turn to fed-
eral incentives such as the Investor Tax Credit, which of-
fers a 30% credit for expenditures on small wind turbines
that are 100 k W or less or 10% for microturbines that are
2 MW or less. Take note that these expire in 2016, so time
is limited for eligibility.
onlookers may turn into potential customers or business
“There’s an enormous public relations opportunity
with wind, especially free advertising if your company
logo is painted on the tower,” says Miller. “A wind turbine
is showing a commitment by a corporation that they’re
all in with sustainability. It’s a real statement when your
company invests in a high-profile feature like this.”
“We’ve had many commercial customers tell us their
foot traffic increased by 20 to 30% after they installed a tur-
bine simply because people were curious,” adds Atkinson. B
Jennie Morton firstname.lastname@example.org is senior
editor of BUILDINGS.
This utility-scale turbine at Testa Produce was one of the first installed in Chicago. It helps to power a LEED Platinum freezer/cooler distribution facility with over 90,000 square
feet of office and warehouse space.
The 260-foot unit was installed in April 2011 and generates
880,000 k Wh annually, roughly 30% of the building’s power. One
of the project’s challenges was securing code approval, as zone
requirements had to be written from scratch to cover installations
in the Windy City.
CASE STUDY #3 | TESTA PRODUCE