Chicago's Unique Wind-Powered Parking Garage

In August, the new Greenway Self Park garage in downtown Chicago was dedicated. It uses the powerful winds coming off Lake Michigan, other green elements and stunning architecture to demonstrate what practicality and sustainability are all about. The 11-story highrise is equipped with a 12-paired array of vertical wind turbines that run up one corner of the building—exposed for all to see—to harvest wind energy to power the exterior wall lighting of the garage. These vertical-axis turbines operate regardless of wind direction, work in winds as low as 1 to 2 mph, and function silently in high winds and extreme weather conditions. The turbines are estimated to generate 10,000 to 15,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

Open-screen walls provide ventilation, reveal the cars inside, and let passersby marvel at the helix-shaped vertical turbines. Electric meters show patrons how the garage is spinning them backward to return extra power to the grid throughout the year.

The 24-hour parking garage includes multiple green elements to make the entire structure energy-efficient. The building has a naturally ventilated external wall of a layered fabric of breathable glass channels. The garage also has a cistern rain collection system and electric car plug-in stations to fast-charge electric vehicles.

Lobbies on each floor include information about how to live sustainably and the garage has energy-efficient lighting. The garage is pursuing LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Greenway Self Park is a joint venture managed by Chicago developers Albert Friedman, president and CEO of Friedman Properties, and Myron Warshauer, former president and chairman emeritus of Standard Parking. The garage fulfills a need for new parking in the River North market and adds more than 14,000 square-feet of retail space on the structure’s ground level.

About the Author

Mike Breslin

Freelance Writer
Mike Breslin is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He has 30-years experience writing for newspapers, magazines, multimedia and video production companies with concentration on business, energy, environmental and technical subjects. Mike is auth...

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