Innovative green building has come a long way with The Plant, originally a meatpacking facility in Chicago that’s being converted to provide multiple dimensions in eco-living while adding green jobs, technology enhancements and growing a deeply sustainable (and healthy!) community.
Calling itself a Farm for the Future, The Plant encompasses 93,500 square feet. Its unique methodology is to combine food and energy as a vertical farm and to create 125 green jobs in an economically troubled area of Chicago. By focusing on renewable energy derived naturally, The Plant has designed a system that will use landfill food waste to supply its power and heat.
An interesting diagram and video in action showing how this whole process works is featured on The Plant’s website. From Kombucha Tea, Plants, Fish, Algae, Grains, Brews, Waste and more, their sophisticated practice of utilizing only repurposed items in an infinite loop is a strong model for future development throughout society.
The Plant will house aquaponic growing systems as well as develop food businesses providing reduced rent and energy costs to nourish these environmentally-focused companies. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity helped fund this net-zero energy endeavor with a grant for $1.5 million.
It’s a social enterprise model well worth examination for many cities. Closing the loop on waste, nothing goes unused and everything is being filtered to assist in the fluidity of green design. Plans include the installation of an odorless anaerobic digester for doing business off-the-grid; it’s expected by 2015 that 27 tons of daily food waste (make that 10,000 tons per year) will be fully fueling The Plant.
The methane obtained from waste will be capable of producing electricity at 400 kWh along with the power to heat the 12,000 square foot brewery New Chicago Beer Company. Ever imagine that fish would be able to grow vegetables? The science behind this process is the symbiotic closed-loop Aquaponics that will generate nitrates to feed plants, which in turn clean water, which will then be used for fish farming.
More food businesses in the venture include a bakery, kombucha brewery, mushroom farm and shared kitchen. Self-sustaining in every way, these green businesses are moving toward technology that’s 100% interconnected with the 21st Century socially-responsible intention of prospering together while creating novel green jobs for a community that truly needs greater employment opportunities.
To inspire The Plant’s concept design be adapted and replicated throughout the country, a complimentary case study will be added on their website with all the financial and technological details, initially as an outline expected in late 2012. They will also be hosting tours and seminars for everyone whether green professionals, college or grade school students, seeking to reach society at large in the hopes of fostering a fresh course in agriculture.
Learn more about this remarkable green building and business model by visiting their website: PlantChicago