Sustainable aquaponic systems to end hunger and homelessness and provide employment in the inner cities of America

EPA Grant Number: SU836128
Title: Sustainable aquaponic systems to end hunger and homelessness and provide employment in the inner cities of America
Investigators: VanGinkel, Steven
Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: November 1, 2015 through October 31, 2016
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment


The objective our project is to improve aquaponics so it is affordable to the masses, especially those in food deserts and homeless veterans. Even though aquaculture and hydroponics are mature and profitable industries, aquaponics is not yet widespread. We at Georgia Tech think that aquaponics is ready to break through its glass ceiling and become more widespread.


We plan to improve the efficiency of aquaponics in terms of water, energy, and materials, We will capture rainwater, use photovoltaics wisely without the use of expensive batteries and inverters to power the system, solar water heating, efficient greenhouse design in terms of energy, and innovative ways to convert food waste into fish feed, the sole nutrient input to the system. We will perform life cycle assessments (LCA) on the system during baseline conditions and when the above efficiency measures have been added to show that we can increase capital and operating costs to the point that it can be affordable to the masses and help cure food deserts.

Expected Results:

In the first year, we plan to install a turnkey system developed by Dr. Rakocy called the University of Virgin Island system or UVI. We will perform mass balances on the system and develop an LCA by tracking water, energy, and material inputs and fish and produce production. We then implement several efficiency measures as part of a class at Georgia Tech and monitor how we reduce capital and operating costs. Our goal is to create a highly efficient prototype for homeless veterans to own, operate, and feed their community. Profits will be reinvested to build more systems to cure more food deserts.

Supplemental Keywords:

aquaponics, food deserts, homelessness, veterans, efficiency, sustainability, capital and operating costs, urban farming, food system resiliency, renewable energy, food waste, food

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report