Saturday, January 23, 2016


When I was standing in line recently at a local farmers market in downtown Houston, I was glancing around at this office building and got to wondering "what are those things on on the roof?"  So I had to do some research and found the following:

This is the City of Houston's Permitting Center building.  It was a 1920's rice warehouse that they rehabbed into a usable modern space.  There are awesome features inside, including light shafts for natural lighting, showers for employees that bike to work, and a green bike loaner program that allows employees to borrow bikes for short errands during the work day.  

But the neatest part is the roof.  The objects on the roof are urban wind turbines (by Honeywell).  They are connected to a weather station on the ground that can control them based on weather conditions.

Honeywell Urban Wind Turbine
And what you can't see from the ground is that that in addition to the wind turbines, the roof is covered in solar panels.  This building is completely self powered and sells energy back to the grid.

Solar and wind, Houston building, image courtesy of

It's nice to see city buildings do this, we just wish there were more.  We would love to have solar and/or wind at the farm.  We have researched options and it might be viable for us, in time.  We've actually thought about doing it in parts, perhaps powering the barn and shed with solar first.  And maybe a solar panel and battery set up in the garden area.  If nothing else immediately, we will choose solar operating lighting for different parts of the property.

As for wind, not sure how to incorporate that but we're looking at options.  

It's a beautiful weekend here, cold (30's/40's) but sunny and clear.  We are sending warm wishes (and stay safe) to those in the NE United States who are enduring the wrath of Winter Storm Jonas...


  1. That is nice. Soon, maybe, there will be more.

  2. That's really cool. In terms of your property, perhaps you could start with solar powered hot water service. It's still expensive but it requires less monitoring than a house system (actually no monitoring). We have a gas booster installed with ours (cause we are not on the grid) which helps when you have lots of rainy days. Another thing to perhaps consider is converting your lights to LED's. They use about 3 watts each but can cast a lot of light and they have come a long way in recent years. A great way to conserve energy and a great head start for when/if you eventually go solar.

  3. Those are some great features and food for thought on how to become more self-sufficient. My electric company is offering to help their customers with installing solar panels and then buying back the surplus energy - maybe the supplier for the Farm has a similar program.
    It was a little cool this afternoon but I couldn't resist that beautiful sun, so I spent some time in my garden, picking things for a stir-fry for supper.

  4. This is my kinda building! I wish more buildings were made with at least a little effort to go green. All that unused flat rooftop space - solar panels are a no brainer.

  5. That's incredible! No idea they made that building eco friendly. Thank you for the research and info. Way to go Houston!

  6. How progressive! I wish any new commercial construction (or rehab) was required to implement these types of functions. Thanks for sharing!


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