Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates

EPA Grant Number: SU834757
Title: Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates
Investigators: Powers, Susan E. , Gonyer, Daegan A.J.
Institution: Clarkson University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2010) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Our goal is to create a Controlled Environment High Rise Farm (CEHRF) in order to maintain the supply of fresh organic produce across a 50-mile radius in a cold climate. The CEHRF is a new organic farming model based on recent innovations in the respective areas of aeroponic crop growth, artificial lighting and HVAC efficiency. The CEHRF will fill a critical need as the fresh produce industry undergoes drastic changes as the price of oil and transportation continues to rise in the coming years. There will be a point where the cost savings of growing produce in only in warm climates will be offset by the cost of transporting those products to the end consumer.


Phase II will investigate the full integration of all mechanisms and systems proposed for use, including: aeroponic growth chambers, efficient artificial lighting, insulated structure with a transmissive wall, climate control systems, and night time insulation of the transmissive wall. Phase II will allow in depth replicate testing of multiple growth systems allowing control over factors that were not within the scope of Phase I. The knowledge gained here will be a true proof of concept for the entire system integration operating under real conditions. A mathematical optimization model utilizing these results to make projections on the design parameters of full scale implementation will be developed. This will allow for a thorough systems design, structural design, and business plan ready to be implemented. The environmental impacts and business plan will be refined as the engineering design and mathematical model progress. Direct impacts from Phase II will also include local fresh produce supplementing campus dining, as well as potentially the local food co-op.

Expected Results:

The output of the Phase II investigation will include the operating pilot plant system to prove the CEHRF concept; an investor ready prospectus that can be presented to future investors; a detailed engineering design consisting of: layout view, rack design, and structural analysis; a mathematical model that optimizes the design of the CEHRF system based on the requirements of the target location; identification of energy and waste heat recovery options; and a market analysis of Saratoga Springs, NY. Finally, using the research gathered during Phase II Clarkson students will begin to pursue the amount of capital required in order to launch a full scale operation.

Supplemental Keywords:

lettuce, tomatoes, waste heat, greenhouse,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011
  • Final

  • P3 Phase I:

    Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates  | Final Report