Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates

EPA Grant Number: SU834321
Title: Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates
Investigators: Powers, Susan E.
Current Investigators: Powers, Susan E. , Bentley, Ethan , Bonnell, Sean , Buel, Kyle , Carnahan, Quinn , Darocha, James , Doyle, Ryan , Gilbraith, Nathan , Gonyer, Daegan A.J. , Howley, Bridget , Jacobs, Nathan , Ludovici, Eric , Shaddak, Laura
Institution: Clarkson University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Current farming practices are inadequate for feeding our growing population in a sustainable manner. Industrialized farming has depleted top soil and its nutrients, requires substantial additions of fossil energy and agrichemicals, and results in food production in a few geographic areas that requires processing and long-distance transport to consumers. An alternative agriculture model for local food production is proposed that utilizes a smaller land area, has a longer growing season and provides steady year-round employment. This new approach will help to sustain the nutrition needs of our population while reducing the environmental impact associated with the increase in our current agricultural practices.

The basis of this proposal is the hypothesis that growing plants in a high-tech, high-rise greenhouse environment (CEHRF) would help regions with cold climates to grow food for their local needs while reducing cost and environmental impacts. The use of high-tech plant growth and lighting components within this food production system will greatly reduce water, nutrient, land and transportation energy requirements. The specific goal of the proposed one-year project is to complete the design, feasibility analysis and impact assessment of a pilot CEHRF facility.


An interdisciplinary team of students will build a bench scale prototype and develop a mathematical model of and a business plan for the CEHRF system to explore and identify the most sustainable means of food production with this type of system.

Expected Results:

The deliverables will include: a working lab-scale CEHRF test system with aeroponic system; a mathematical model quantifying monthly average mass and energy flows; a business plan and conceptual engineering design for a pilot scale CEHRF system; lifecycle assessment to quantify sustainability metrics for CEHRF; and, reports and presentations for the P3 competition and local communication. The completion of this project will include an interdisciplinary team of Clarkson students and their classes, the expertise of many external experts, and outreach to local high school classrooms.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 6 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

controlled environment farming, green energy, waste to energy, aeroponics, high efficiency lighting, lifecycle analysis, land use, closed loop recycling,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates