The Pittsburgh Public Market has been spending a small fortune on its electricity bills since opening last year, but as luck would have it, there’s a solution right in its own proverbial back yard.
The Public Market will install a 20-foot-tall vertical wind turbine on its roof, made just down the street at WindStax.
“One turbine can save us around 10 percent, which is great,” says Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip. “Once we get one up there, we could look for funding to do some others. In our plans all along, we’ve been talking about a green roof and other things to make the building more energy efficient.”
WindStax, which started in a two-car garage in Apollo, opened its factory at 3220 Smallman Street last spring. The company makes vertical wind turbines from an original design by native Pittsburgher Ron Gdovic.
“I really can’t overemphasize the significance of doing such a high-profile project right in our backyard,” Gdovic says. “This isn’t just a local company supporting a local company. It’s something we’re very proud of and we’re really glad that they’ve embraced the technology and are eager to work with us.”
Gdovic says that the roof of the Public Market has the capacity to fit up to eight of his turbines, and that the first turbine should be installed later this spring. The turbine will be custom-designed to match the market’s color scheme. It may be just the beginning of an energy revolution along Pittsburgh’s waterfront spaces, especially the Strip.
“Since it’s so self-contained, it could be used on existing buildings,” Rodgers says. “I’m sure many of the businesses in the Strip want to be more energy efficient and this is a way they can do it.”
“We’re really hopeful that this will be the springboard for some other turbine applications,” Gdovic says. “The concept of an urban wind farm or micro grid is something we’re certainly interested in.”