Several factors play into the economical feasibility. First you have to look at the building or structure required. As an architect, I am a bit more knowledgeable about that piece of the puzzle. Skyscrapers are one of the most expensive “land” in the world. Some quick math below.
Lets assume that land is worth $1.00/s.f. (conservative number). The owner of a skyscraper can expect to pay more than 200(x) that per s.f. for his building. Add the costs of electricity to pump the water up the vertical rise and keep the plants bathed in artificial sunlight all day. The concept appears to be an inefficient mess. Looking at those numbers, you need one thing to happen, prices of food to increase significantly. Lets not all chant that at the same time.
So if building structures are not economically feasible, what about adaptive reuse? This is the process of reusing an old site or building for purpose other than which it was built or designed for. This is happening right here in Mesa where Apple is reusing a building created by First Solar. For more info, click here. The idea is to purchase a building for cents on the dollar to make it economically viable.
Recently a vertical farm opened in a suburb of Chicago. It is not as vertical as a high rise, but sits upon 2 floors of an existing structure. It is within an abandoned warehouse of 90,000 s.f. It is called FARMED HERE. It allows this facility to grow plants within an existing structure indoors, away from bugs, diseases, pesticides and weather impacts. It uses an aquaponic system and can operate discharging virtually no water. The water is recirculated and also raises fish. It’s products are sold in some familiar stores such as Whole Foods. This supports many local grocers within the Chicago area.
So with the economic crisis that has left so many abandoned buildings and empty malls in its wake, is this a viable solution?
Could this be a support for local farming close to home with minimal transportation costs? With the stats that by the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth’s population will reside in urban centers have an impact on our farm land?
If we are living within cities, can we bring the farming of food, not feed, with us in a more economical footprint?
I believe its worth DOODLING about.