Vertical farming and agriculture are featuring more heavily in urban planning and architecture, not purely for food production but also for combating CO2 production. The latest phase in this trend has been heralded by architecture firm Influx_Studio who are looking at retrofitting buildings with green areas and sustainable technology to lower CO2 emissions.
The firm clearly feel that this is the future of green building design, particularly in Chicago where they estimate that around three quarters of CO2 emissions in the city originate from office blocks and other buildings, fitting vertical farms and hydroponics systems in these places would provide a practical and environmental solution.
As part of a wider initiative called “Decarbonise Chicago”, the firm are looking at retrofitting an existing block, the Marina City’s Tower with a range of sustainable technologies including solar panels, windfarms, hydroponics bays and also an algae bioreactor. The gardens will form a semicircular balcony on each of the bays given residents the chance to raise their own produce. Interestingly it is the algae bioreactors which offer the greatest advantage to battling CO2 emissions.
The building hopes to take a three pronged approach to tackling carbon emissions. Firstly, carbon will be directly taken from the air using the algae bioreactor, a highly successful and natural CO2 absorber. Secondly, carbon dioxide will be absorbed by the algae and vertical farms as the plants grow, finally due to the implementation of sustainable energy technologies being utilised within the building, carbon emissions are further reduced as less fossil fuels are used to maintain the building. Each element not only reduces CO2 individually but because of the ways they integrate, for example the wind turbines bringing air into the algae system, they combine to increase effectiveness.
For Influx_Studio the project goes beyond simply retrofitting a single building but a new school of thinking that makes buildings as sustainable as possible and incorporates multiple technologies to help reduce carbon footprints. Clearly, these buildings will play a role in future urban planning and the combating of climate change – naturally, hydroponics will have its part to play too.