OWC Launches Wind Turbine, Goes 100% Wind-Powered

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We don't often cover fluff-press releases at The Mac Observer, but this is a cool one: Other World Computing (OWC) announced Thursday that it has become the first technology manufacturer and distributor to become 100% on-site wind powered, courtesy of a new wind turbine the company has been building for some time.

According to OWC, the turbine is projected to generate 1.25 million killowatt hours per year, which is more than twice the company's electricity needs across its entire operation, including its data center.

The firm's commitment to the environment also extends to the very building of the facility being powered. The building was build to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum specs, though it is still waiting official certification. LEED is a third-party certification program for energy efficiency, and the Platinum spec is the most stringent level of efficiency.

For the wind-power nerds: The tower is 131 feet high, and can generate power at wind speeds as low as 9 mph (average wind conditions for the area are 10-15 mph). The blades extend the height of the installation to 194 feet, and the blade housing can rotate 360 degrees in order to face into winds as high as 150 mph (the blades can go flat for extreme winds above 150 mph).

OWC head honcho Larry O'Connor told us earlier this year that the US$1.25 million cost of the installation is projected to pay for itself in 10-14 years with current energy costs. By extension, it would be sooner should energy prices increase. In the meanwhile, excess energy produced by the turbine will be sold to the local power company and fed directly into the grid.

Other features of the facility from the LEED Platinum specs:

  • Geo-thermal ground-coupled heat pump system
  • Fiber optic rooftop light-harvesting technology
  • High insulation value glass windows and exterior sunshade technology for reduced cooling costs
  • High insulation value materials throughout the building for reduced energy use
  • "Smart" sensors to detect and adjust energy in unused rooms
  • Permeable Paver system for environmentally friendly run-off water handling
  • Bio Swales landscaping for water conservation
  • Use of native plants and prairie grasses for water conservation
  • Sloan Waterless Urinals and dual-mode toilets for water conservation
  • Sloan high-efficiency hand driers in washrooms for energy/paper savings
  • High-efficiency drinking water filtration system to eliminate need for delivered water
  • Company-wide recycling with near zero waste generation
  • Facilities for employees to commute to work by bicycle
  • Low-impact cleaning products

The company has posted a photo gallery showing the wind turbine being built.

OWC Facility
OWC's LEED Platinum Spec Building

OWC Wind Turbine
OWC Wind Turbine

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Bryan Chaffin

I’ll be the first to point out this seems like a fluff piece on the surface (in fact, I did in the lead paragraph), but the Greenie in me thinks this huge. I’ve been looking forward to covering this since Larry told me about it this summer!

I love that a Mac company has taken such an aggressive stance in going green, and I love even more that they did so in order to make money - it’s the proof in the pudding that going green can generate profits and jobs.


Some of this stuff will not work very well.  After a year, come back and ask the employees how things are working.  I hope there are no health issues.


I think its awesome. I hope others follow. What a bold move, considering a r.o.i. in 10 - 14 years.


Some of this stuff will not work very well.  After a year, come back and ask the employees how things are working.  I hope there are no health issues.

Um.. can you be more specific? Are they going to get health problems from the fiber optic rooftop?

I’m not suggesting that you don’t have a valid concern/point, but you certainly didn’t make it with that broad statement.

I, for one, think waterless urinals are disgusting because they don’t work well.


WHat health hazards from a Fiber Optic Light Harvesting roof are you talking about? It is taking sunlight and amplifying it and sending on to various rooms inside the building how can that be a health hazard.
I guess when some folks try and do the right thing and show concern for the Planet and it’s environment there will always be naysayers and those who have to take jabs at how it maybe detrimental.
Instead of giving kudos to OWC for leaving a smaller carbon footprint, these morons want to just raise doubts.
GO DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE before making disparaging remarks ....


If you wish to save some water when taking a piss, try using a sink, you will use less water to clean the sink than to flush a toilet and if you are smart you will wash your hands while you take a leak thereby getting a two for one deal, washed hands and a cleaned sink.
Boy I dislike those who just want to be negative in thinking….


My experience using low flush toilets is that they are a maintenance headache.  The high energy efficient buildings are built very tight to eliminate air infiltration similar to an airplane fuselage.  So the health issue concerns restrooms working properly then the heating and cooling systems working properly. Occasional when one is on a long airplane flight, there are respiratory problems because of the recirculated air.
Wind or solar power is installed only because of the tax breaks.  That power is partially paid by the taxpayers. Without tax breaks,  wind and solar power is not cost effective.
This article is mostly doctor feelgood. I doubt the future problems in this building will be reported.


Wind or solar power is installed only because of the tax breaks.

The same has long been true for coal (stimulus bill), oil (access to public lands), and nuclear (liability caps) as well. Please try a different argument.


Remembering how poorly heat pumps worked when the temperature dropped below 50 degrees F/10 degrees C, I wonder how warm they’ll be in the winter.  Aren’t they in the Chicago area?  It is miserably cold in the winter.

On the other hand, they’ll have all the wind they’ll need.

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