On rotation 

Piece by piece, 18 helices are being installed on the roof of OMRF’s new research tower to turn Oklahoma wind into energy.

The project makes OMRF one of the first entities in the U.S. to receive the helix turbines, and they will stand alone among medical research facilities that receive on-site wind-generated power.

All together, the turbines will be capable of generating 85,000 kilowatts of electricity per year. That could meet up to 10 percent of OMRF’s energy needs.

Dr. Steve Prescott, president of OMRF, said the idea to put wind generators on the roof grew from a need for expansion and innovation. The foundation’s building was at capacity when the new tower was proposed at 820 N.E. 15th.

“We were just completely handcuffed because we couldn’t recruit new scientists,” Prescott said. “We didn’t have the space to put them.”

wind turbines atop OMRF's research tower
Shannon Cornman

The new building was designed with energy efficiency in mind, a quality that can be difficult to achieve since many pieces of lab equipment need a large, constant power supply.

Among other things, the tower relies heavily on natural light and was designed to catch warm rays from the sun in the winter. It reuses rain water and was landscaped with plants that do not require a lot of supplemental irrigation.

Prescott said recruitment played an important role in making the new tower green. OMRF recruits worldwide for young scientists who generally are looking for organizations that embrace creativity and collaboration and fit with their lifestyles.

“They would see a building like that as a statement of what we believe in,” said Prescott.

Once installed, the wind turbines will become the most prominent display of the building’s energy-saving design. But getting them in place requires some patience.

“The turbines are coming from Thailand and the generators are coming from China and something else is coming from somewhere else,” Prescott said. The turbines should all be installed by early June.

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