August 27, 2010

Vestas going solar?

Vestas Wind Systems has announced it is moving its North American sales and service headquarters to an historic building in Portland’s Pearl District.

Renovations to the 80-year-old Meier & Frank Depot Building are slated to begin in October and finish up in early 2012. Increasing the construction timeline is the addition of a 22,000-square-foot fifth floor and a design plan to achieve LEED Platinum Certification.

In going for the highest LEED certification possible, Vestas incorporated a renewable source of energy into the building, and as one of the world’s biggest producers of wind turbines, a rooftop wind farm would seem like the obvious choice. It wasn’t.

In the end, Vestas decided to go with what the company believes will be the largest roof-mounted solar energy array in Portland’s central district.

So, what is more counterintuitive: A wind-power producer going solar, or using solar panels in a place where the sun shines 48 percent of the year, according to Portland weather data?

What the Vestas headquarters will certainly take advantage of is Portland’s average 37 inches of rain each year with an eco-roof terrace and gardens, and a system to collect rainwater for reuse in the building.

By the numbers:

  • Project cost estimate: $66 million
  • Total square feet: 172,000
  • Capacity: 600 employees; 850 if parking is eliminated
  • Vestas employees in Portland: 400
  • U.S. employees: 2,400
  • Turbines supplied globally since 1979: 40,500
  • In North America alone: 11,000
  • LEED Platinum buildings in Portland: 15

Forbes.com recently praised a new product that is the perfect marriage of two things people hate most: work and exercise.

The TrekDesk Treadmill Desk by name is self-explanatory, but picture a treadmill with your office desk in front of it at an ergonomically appropriate height.

Work an eight-hour day? That means you’re walking eight hours a day, too. Work just squared itself.

The company says on its website that it believes the combination will improve mood, prevent depression, build the brain, increase productivity, restore health and help users lose weight. But why stop there? Hook up a generator and have employees literally keep the lights on.

Health insurance premiums might go down, but workers’ comp claims will probably go up. Dress codes will have to be rewritten to include tennis shoes. What if the power surges? YouTube has plenty of footage of what happens to people when treadmills go too fast – or stop suddenly.

While this is a clever combination, it might be better to power home television sets or children’s video games – things that require no higher brain function. Walking and chewing gum is one thing; walking and balancing a multi-million dollar budget is another.

Retailing for $479, the TrekDesk does not include the treadmill.

Vestas Wind Systems has announced it is moving its North American sales and service headquarters to an historic building in Portland’s Pearl District.

Renovations to the 80-year-old Meier & Frank Depot Building are slated to begin in October and finish up in early 2012. Increasing the construction timeline is the addition of a 22,000-square-foot fifth floor and a design plan to achieve LEED Platinum Certification.

In going for the highest LEED certification possible, Vestas incorporated a renewable source of energy into the building, and as one of the world’s biggest producers of wind turbines, a rooftop wind farm would…

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