(245a) Implementation of Tower Gardens On An Urban University Campus | AIChE

(245a) Implementation of Tower Gardens On An Urban University Campus


Peters, R. W. - Presenter, University of Alabama at Birmingham

As society faces the problems of food deserts, diseases of civilization due to malnourishment, and countless environmental harm such as pollution or droughts, creating sustainable communities may serve as a solution to cope with these problems. Implementing green spaces in a form of vertical gardens will have positive environmental effects and offer improved access and quality of fresh produce in the urban as well as rural areas. Growing produce in tower gardens and consuming more unprocessed foods, can potentially reduce rates of undernourishment and many illnesses of longevity.

The Tower Garden® utilizes aeroponics to recycle 100% of its nutrients and water. Furthermore, the system reduces the need for use of pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides. Vertical gardens also use less than 10% of both water and land that are used in traditional farming. They have an undeniable benefit of high yield fresh, nutritious, produce.

Several Tower Gardens are being installed on building rooftops on the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) campus. Raised soil bedded roof gardens are already in-place on several buildings. Knowledge is being gained as to what is most successful in a roof garden in terms of soils and plant materials. Also under study is the growth of plant materials under varying degrees of water and nutrients, and differing locations with respect to sunlight.  The use of the Tower Garden will provide the researchers with another system to test and compare with the success of the raised soil bedded gardens already in place. The rooftop gardens promote a sustainable environment as they enhance cooling on rooftops and provide increase insulation for the host building rooftop. This serves to reduce energy use and lowers the building operating costs. The Tower Gardens add two additional benefits to the positive nature of vegetated roofs: (1) the plants grow in an air/water/nutrient mix, with most of the water returned to the atmosphere via evaporation, and (2) the main plant sources are edible produce. For this research project, the Tower Gardens make use of building collected rainwater and equipment condensate as the water source, thereby reducing the storm water runoff from rooftops.

All the benefits of vertical farming contribute to a more sustainable planet.


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