On the roof, wind turbines to bring power
Tel Aviv residents are likely to encounter a new sight on local rooftops in the coming years. No longer will there just be the walls and fences on high-rise rooftops that currently surround the various devices and machinery, but there will also be wind turbine farms that will supply part of the building's electricity needs.
One Tel Aviv high-rise building will soon install wind turbines from the Alte Company, which develops methods for utilizing alternative energies in high-rise buildings. This will be an experimental project, in which the ability to exploit wind energy will be used to supply part of the building's electricity needs.
This weekend there will be an opportunity to get acquainted with the concept of utilizing wind energy in residential buildings, as part of the "Batim Mibifnim" (houses from within) project in Tel Aviv. It will enable visits to different homes throughout the city, and provide a chance to see various architectural projects. Alte Company representatives will show imaging of the project in their offices and explain its principles.
According to the company's founders, Architect Erez Elah and economist Guy Shahar, they are in contact with several developers to build wind turbines on several future homes in the city. They also hope to export the idea to other countries, and to obtain approval to build such a turbine farm on a state-of-the-art building to be built in Louisville, Kentucky.
A typical turbine farm is usually located on the ground, and includes turbines with large blades that can supply large quantities of electricity. The turbine farm on the building rooftop will be of a smaller scale, and feature vertical turbines where the blades rotate with the wind and create energy that can be transformed into electricity. The real challenge facing entities such as Alte is persuading developers to invest the money in building such turbines on the rooftops of the homes they build.
"Today nearly every contractor wants to build something that will be defined as green," notes Elah. "But in the end they want to know what the financial cost of the whole thing is. We tried to build a model that will make setting up a turbine farm economically feasible."
"We take something that in any case the developer has to build, which is the roof floor, where there is a fence or wall that is used among other things to conceal machinery and also as a safety measure," explains Shahar. "Instead of building a regular wall, he can created a kind of wall of turbines, and also save money by reducing spending on electricity in the building."
Using ideas developed by the company's technology officer, Danny Cohen, the wind turbine farm should enable the efficient conversion of wind energy into electricity, which will provide around one-tenth of Israeli high-rise buildings' electricity consumption.
"This is primarily for buildings that are 20 stories or higher and have good wind conditions," explains Elah. "The use of wind will be only one component of a variety of alternative solutions that will also include the use of solar energy."
Wind energy meshes well with the trend to switch to green building in Israel. This trend is reflected in other ideas such as that of Knafo Klimor Architects, which recently won an architectural competition in China. They presented a project to build a residential building that includes a greenhouse to grow fruits and vegetables, which would be located on a number of floors and on the roof. Ventilation for the greenhouse will come from a chimney, and it will have a drip irrigation system. A solar system will provide the energy needed to heat the growing areas.
Currently there is already an approved standard for green construction in Israel. In the community of Ganei Tikvah, the first project enabling the recycling of gray water (water used for bathing) for use in watering plants was completed, and it is awaiting the Ministry of Health's approval.
Two months ago in Kfar Sava, the "Green Building's Environmental Pamphlet" written by Architect Shlomo Lavi was completed. It includes detailed instructions primarily with regard to energy. Among other things, it discusses planning solar systems for heating the home, improved tiled roofs with aluminum foil that enables better ventilation in the summer, and installation of a central system to absorb and filter air from the kitchens.
"Areas such as the Dan region or Ashdod can be transformed into a green metropolitan area like the city of Chicago, which decided to become a center of green construction," says Shahar.
He and Elah note that many countries around the world are offering financial incentives to anyone who includes environmentally beneficial components in buildings, such as using alternative energy. According to them, it's not yet being done in Israel, but there is willingness on the part of the Ministry of National Infrastructure to start doing so.
The Batim Mibifnim project that will be taking place in Tel Aviv for the second consecutive year is one of the biggest architectural events in Israel. It features visits to individual apartments, urban villas, public buildings, churches, scenic places and unique gardens. The curator of the event this weekend is architect Alon Bin Nun and his wife, Aviva Levinson, who are producing it in collaboration with the Tel Aviv municipality.
This year it will be possible to visit 120 buildings, almost double the number that were featured last year. Among other events, there will be several sites and activities connected to environmental protection. In addition to the wind turbine project, visitors can also see an ecologically minded apartment under construction on the Jaffa coast, where there is a project to transform the area that served as a waste dump into a promenade. There will also be a meeting with green organization activists at the Bayit Hayarok, which is the house on Nahalat Binyamin Street where most of the green organizations have their offices.