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Vertically Integrated Greenhouse

Vertically Integrated Greenhouse in Cafe with Strawberries
By Arup Engineers, Kiss + Cathcart Architects,New York Sun Works, The Vertical Farm Project, Dickson Despommier
for The Buckminster Fuller Challenge
Abstract
The Vertically Integrated Greenhouse (VIG) combines a double-skin building facade with a hydroponic greenhouse, offering one pathway toward energy-efficient cities that can grow their own food.

strawberryverticalVertically Integrated Greenhouse in Cafe with Strawberries

By Arup Engineers, Kiss + Cathcart Architects, New York Sun Works, The Vertical Farm Project, Dickson Despommier for The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Abstract

The Vertically Integrated Greenhouse (VIG) combines a double-skin building facade with a hydroponic greenhouse, offering one pathway toward energy-efficient cities that can grow their own food.

The Problem

Increasing urbanization and the global construction boom have underscored the importance of efficiency in the built environment. In the United States, the buildings account for 39% of energy use, 68% of electricity consumption, 12% of water consumption, and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions.  Figures for Europe are similar.

In a less tangible shift, the natural world is being marginalized and green space is increasingly remote as people live and work in ever-taller structures.

Agriculture has an equally significant impact on our world. Modern agriculture feeds billions of mouths every day, but is the world’s largest consumer of land and water, the source of most water pollution, and the source of 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Once grown and harvested, fresh produce travels an average of 2500 km to reach U.S. cities, adding to traffic congestion, air pollution, and carbon emissions. Exacerbating the strain, global warming is predicted to lead to widespread shortages of food, water, and arable land by 2050.

Today’s notion of green building is not green enough, nor widely enough applied, to reverse these trends. A more aggressive solution is well within reach.

Growing food crops on buildings can reduce our environmental footprint, cut transportation costs, enhance food security, save energy within the building envelope, and enrich the physical and psychological comfort of building occupants.

officeverticalVertically Integrated Greenhouse in Office Facade with Leafy Greens

The Vertically Integrated Greenhouse:

The Vertically Integrated Greenhouse (VIG) is a highly productive, lightweight, modular, climatically responsive system for growing vegetables on a vertical curtain wall facade. The system is achievable with extant technology.

Hydroponics, the culture of plants in water, is a technically sophisticated commercial practice in most regions of the world. As publicly demonstrated by New York Sun Works at the Science Barge greenhouse in Manhattan, recirculating hydroponics can produce premium-quality vegetables and fruits using up to 20 times less land and 10 times less water than conventional agriculture, while eliminating chemical pesticides, fertilizer runoff, and carbon emissions from farm machinery and long distance transport.

In the building sector, the double skin façade (DSF) is an innovation which can reduce the energy used for space conditioning in modern high rise buildings by up to 30%. A DSF consists of a vertically continuous void space enclosed by a second curtain of glazing over the entire facade. A DSF provides solar heat in winter, buoyancy-driven cooling flows in summer, and allows opening windows year round. Despite these advantages, DSF applications remain limited due to economic concerns and the need to install a large shading system within the cavity to realize the full benefits.

The Vertically Integrated Greenhouse combines a DSF with a novel system of hydroponic food production, for installation on new high-rise buildings and as a potential retrofit on existing buildings. In addition to producing food, plants can reduce building maintenance costs by providing shade, air treatment, and evaporative cooling to building occupants.

See more about this project here.