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 Greaterthangreen.com 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.

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