Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Logan Airport Wind Turbines


Tags: airport, Boston, building, efficiency, energy, government, management, Massachusetts, turbine, wind

Boston's major airport employs wind turbines in an urban setting.

As of July 2008, the roof of Logan International Airport's main office building is lined with 20 10-foot-tall wind turbines expected to generate nearly 100,000 KWH annually. The installation of wind turbines at Boston's major airport was intended to cut energy costs by $13,000 per year, while helping to offset pollution generated by concentrated air travel. The power generated by Logan's turbines amounts to roughly two percent of the office complex's monthly power consumption-estimated at 291,000 KWH. Each turbine measures 6 feet wide by 8 feet tall and weighs 90 pounds. Their downward-angled shapes are designed to help stabilize the machines in turbulent conditions, as well as to helping them capture air flow from building aerodynamics in even low-wind conditions.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan and several airports and transportation hubs in the Boston area, commissioned the project in consultation with Groom Energy Solutions. AeroVironment manufactured the turbines, which are part of its "Architectural Wind" system, designed specifically for installation on "big box"-type buildings. The Authority, commonly referred to as Massport, is currently exploring the possibilities of other renewables for installation on the site. Like the wind farm project, all such renewables initiatives would need to comply with Massport's comprehensive energy management plan.

Energy generated in May and June 2009, a year after installation, fell far short of expectations at 1,430 KWH. Massport representatives remained hopeful that the region's notoriously cold and windy autumn and winter weather would kick up production, and that over time turbines and other renewables would come to meet an increasing proportion of the building's energy demands.

In August 2008, the Environmental Leader reported that proposed changes to the Boston zoning code would accommodate wind turbines in certain urban zones according to size and power generated. Height restrictions, noise levels, and safety were major issues addressed in the discussion surrounding these proposals. Logan Airport's wind turbines helped bring this zoning issue to the table by placing wind energy facilities in a highly visible location. The urban location of the wind farm offers an interesting alternative to the controversial Cape Wind Project, an offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound whose legislative approval is still pending after 10 years of debate.


"Logan Airport Wind Energy Excursion A Success." Environmental Leader (July 4, 2008). Accessed online April 11, 2011.

"Boston Sets Rules for Turbines." Environmental Leader (August 25, 2008). Accessed online April 11, 2011.

Brooks, Walter. "Boston Airport Installs Its Own Wind Farm." Cape Cod Today (March 5, 2008). Accessed April 11, 2011.

"AV's Architectural Wind System Installed At Boston's Logan Airport." Space Daily (July 9, 2008). Accessed April 11, 2011.

Ritchie, Ed. "Architectural Wind." Distributed Energy (July-August 2009). Accessed online April 11, 2011.

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