Adding Wind Power NYC

by | May 17, 2019 | New York City, Sustainable Design

In New York City, you can add a small wind turbine on the roof of a building as a renewable energy source. There are some restrictions on wind turbine size, noise, safety, even color.


Adding Wind Power in NYC

  • Only Small wind Turbines are Allowed
  • Wind Loads
  • Design Standards for Wind Power
  • Wind Turbine Safety Features
  • Wind Turbine Design Color
  • No Lighting
  • Wind turbine Access
  • Turbine Noise Control
  • Shadow Flicker
  • Setbacks for Wind Turbines in NYC


Small Wind Turbine Code Regulations

In New York City, you can install a small wind turbine on a building roof or property.

The following are the requirements to qualify as a small wind turbine as per the NYC Building Code Requirements.

  • The Turbine’s “Swept area” must be less than 200 square meters or 2152.78 square feet.
  • The wind power Generates less than 1,000 Volts AC or 1,500 Volts DC

Turbine Wind Loads

A wind turbine must withstand winds of 130 Miles Per Hour or higher in certain circumstances

Design Standards for Wind Power Turbines

The New York City Building Code lists the following Design Standards and Reference Material.

  • American Wind Energy Association
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
  • California Energy Association
  • Small Wind Certification Council
  • British Wind Energy Association
  • International Electrotechnical Commission
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Underwriters Laboratory

NYC Safety Requirements for Wind Turbines

  • “a small wind turbine shall be equipped with a redundant braking system and a passive lock, including aerodynamic over speed controls and mechanical brakes”
  • “If a hurricane or strong wind conditions are expected, the commissioner may order that small wind turbines equipped with passive locks be stopped and locked”.

Wind Turbine Colors in NYC

The New York City Building Code has color requirements stating a wind turbine must be white, off-white, grey, or “another non-obtrusive color specified by the commissioner.”

No Lighting for Wind Turbines in NYC

You cannot have lighting specifically for the turbine.

Wind Turbine Access

Electrical components of wind power turbines must be locked.
The turbine tower should not be climbable except by authorized personnel up to 10 feet

Wind Power Noise Control

Wind turbines must follow the New York City Noise Control Code requirements.

Shadow Flicker

Wind Turbines should be designed and located to minimize shadow flicker on neighboring buildings.


Wind Power Turbines cannot be located near a property line within a distance equal to half the height of the turbine without written consent of the neighboring property owner.


Small Wind Turbine Program

The New York State Energy Research and development Authority (NYSERDA) has incentives available of individuals or organizations who install wind power in New York State. The incentives are available not only for a residential wind turbine but also commercial, institutional, and government owned sites. The incentive is available for wind power systems up to 5 MW (Mega Watts) and the system must be hooked up to the electrical grid. The maximum incentive available is for up to 50% of the system installation cost with a $1,000,000.00 cap.  You can go to the NYSERDA website to learn more about the Small Wind Turbine Incentive Program.


Adding Wind Power in NYC

As an architect, I study Building Codes and Zoning closely, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to Adding Wind Power in NYC. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Wind Power in NYC.

I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can Contact Fontan Architecture directly.


Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.