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ESW looks to the wind

May 2013
student studying wind patternsNorthwestern University’s Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), the student group which already made a big impact on campus by leading the implementation of NU’s 16.8-kilowatt Centennial solar array on the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center is back at it! Now they’re looking into the feasibility of small wind turbines on NU’s Evanston campus. Facilities Management, the Office of Sustainability, Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), and Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor Patricia Beddows have been helping with this effort. Rachel Scholes, Brooke Stanislawski, and Josh Kaplan have been leading the study, collecting wind speed data from rooftop locations on the Evanston Campus.

“The goal of the project is to understand wind patterns and the feasiblity of having wind turbines on NU’s Evanston campus.  This is both educational and practical,” stated Rachel Scholes. The team chose two roofs to monitor, the Technological Institute and SPAC. Every week, with the support of Facilities Management, ESW students used hand held anemometers and compasses to determine maximum and average wind speed and direction.

With the help of ISEN funding, the team hopes to install semi-permanent anemometers to both roofs to track wind patterns for a year. This will allow the team to collect more complete data to determine the amount of power that can be generated and then use this information to evaluate the economic and environmental benefits of building integrated wind.

“We want to explore every available option for clean, renewable energy on campus,” said NU’s Director of Sustainability, Rob Whittier. “The ideal solution is probably a portfolio of technologies that includes wind, solar, geothermal, and cogeneration.”