Blog Post

Urban Wind Turbine: A Rare Species Spotted

Ask a die-hard altpower fan if they’ve ever seen a functional wind turbine in the urban jungle, and chances are, the answer is no. Today we bring you some exclusive footage of this rare species. This Skystream 3.7, built by Altira-backed Southwest Wind Power, sits atop a remodeled corner house in San Francisco’s Mission District. The blades sit on a skinny 45-foot pole dropped in by crane. Here is the turbine in action on Wednesday’s windy afternoon.

While many wind turbines have been installed in rural areas (Southwest Wind Power alone has sold more than 700), a working wind turbine in an urban setting is a new, and long-awaited, development. “To my knowledge, it’s the first residential wind turbine in an urban environment in the country,” said Robin Wilson, founder of Meridian Builders and Developers, the green construction company in charge of the project, and proud owner of the home.

With a dozen laborers adding the finishing touches to her eco-manse, Wilson proudly ticked off the site’s sustainable features. The home boasts an integrated rainwater and greywater catchment system, Trendsetters solar water heating, and an energy-monitoring system that will be viewable online at within a month.

“Now I just gotta figure out how to pay for it,” she said.

All the new sustainable gadgets and building materials didn’t come cheap. Wilson estimated the cost of refitting the property’s 4,800 square feet at $2.5 million, or $521 per square foot — and about $121 more per square foot than one Sf builder’s calculations.

“I’ve lived there for ten years,” Wilson said. But last year, she struck a deal with Sunset Magazine to remodel her place into an Idea Home, one of two built this year. The house will be zero-energy, meaning that it will take no power from the grid. Wilson hopes that it will become a model for other zero-energy homes in the region.

27 Responses to “Urban Wind Turbine: A Rare Species Spotted”

  1. Here are links to media coverage of a true urban turbine Skystream 3.7 at Six Feet Under Restaurant Westside in Atlanta, Georgia. Covered by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN, WXIA-TV Atlanta NBC affiliate, and others. Arguably the most media coverage ever generated by a single installation of a small wind turbine. Installed by Soenso Energy, Marietta, Georgia. , , , .

  2. buildingturbines

    We are manufacturing Horizontal Roof Mount Turbines for Urban Commercial Buildings. We harness the buildings updraft wind use a series of deflectors concentrators and augmentors to amplify or funnel the wind into the sail blades.

    Using a sail type material, we engineered the blades to be safe for roof tops, birds as well as people down on the ground.

    We are starting production and are offering equity of the company for production financing. Please see our website to inquire about the turbines and or investing in urban wind turbines for roof tops. Thanks,
    John F. Graham Sr.

  3. homewindturbines

    We sell Home Wind Turbine Kits. That has every component with it (except batteries) which you buy locally, is a matched kit of components. It’s really a handyman level install, many folks put it in themselves and many have an electrician finish it up for safety. Pay by credit card secured, takes about 1 week to pack and ship, Most kits go out UPS Ground. Free Shipping. Have a look at our site which s chock full of wind energy articles and DIY pictures and directions.

  4. Chris Coco

    Why is the video of the turbine SPED UP? Watching the video, you’re focused on the turbine’s blades, but the person painting or washing the house on the left is obviously working at SUPER SPEED. I am all for getting off the grid, but please don’t manipulate the truth.

  5. Our company designs vertical-axis wind turbines and one of the first projects we worked on was a turbine that could fit into the urban environment. If you think about it, it’s where most of the power is consumed anyways, not on a farm miles from the nearest city. I think we see more urban locations using turbines in the next few years.

  6. This is a piece that really needs to get out there. Anything is possible. There is so much force behind this movement, but it’s not going in the right direction… There are a lot of hurdles we need to get over (political, financial, corporate lobbying, etc), but if we can stand up to all of those things that have prevented us from progressing, we can really make a positive impact. I told the people at CleanTech News to put this up, and I’ll tell others, so keep it going and let everyone know

  7. Elizabeth Knowlton

    Fascinating piece and just as fabulous a price tag.

    During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the Feds were pushing ‘alternative’ energy and even put some serious funds into Small Business Administration Loans for solar energy companies, electric car research and other struggling start ups. No one wanted another ‘oil embargo’ or to worry about oil reserves and the effect it would have on the US economy. (What’s that quote about those who don’t study history….?)

    Then, as now, alternative energy seemed to be the only planet-friendly solution. Then, as now, the Feds fizzled after their initial publicity campaign and the public’s interest waned.

    Kudo’s to Robin Williams, Meridian and Sunset Magazine for proving it is possible to slow global warming if we have the political (and financial) will.