Archive for June, 2007

Manhattan envisages skyscraper farms

The BBC reports that scientists at Columbia University have devised a plan for interior skyscraper farms for New Yorkers.

Columbia University Professor Dickson Despommier and his students took existing greenhouse technology as a starting point and are now convinced that vertical farms within city skyscrapers are a practical suggestion.

In their design, energy is generated from a giant solar panel, with incinerators which use the farm’s waste products for fuel. All the water in the entire system is recycled, and the plan’s whole complex sustainable.

This project parallels the fresh foods from urban wastes pilot project currently being undertaken by Central Queensland University, led by Professor David Midmore.
Columbia University’s Professor Despommier told the BBC that advantages of this CBD agriculture include year-round crop production in a controlled environment; minimal exposure to pests (and therefore organic produce); elimination of dangerous agricultural runoff into river systems; and zero food miles, as produce would be conusmed locally.

This is a practical way to address climate change, the report says. The BBC’s Jeremy Cooke reports of a design that incorporates:

a 30-storey building with glass walls, topped off with a huge solar panel. On each floor there would be giant planting beds, indoor fields in effect. There would be a sophisticated irrigation system.

Even if it’s not quite natural…you’re going to get back the rest of the earth

Professor Dickson Despommier

And so crops of all kinds and small livestock could all be grown in a controlled environment in the most urban of settings.

That means there would be no shipping costs, and no pollution caused by moving produce around the country.

The report says these types of city farms would free up cleared farmland to be reforested.


June 21, 2007 at 12:37 am Leave a comment

A beautiful way to fight climate change

June 5, 2007: “Green roofs have really captured many people’s imagination as a beautiful way to fight climate change and save money.” The words come from Steven Peck, Founder and President of Toronto-based Green Roofs for Healthy Cities-North America, which has more than 1,300 members among North American municipal governments and green roof businesses.

“Green roofs deliver more public and private benefits than any other green building technology. This is why we anticipate continued strong growth of the North American green roof industry”, he said.

According to Mr Peck there was 25% expansion in 2006 of the green roof industry of Canada and the United States. In the intensive green roof sector (where larger plants are incorporated into rooftop designs) the expansion was 110% in 2006, he said.

“The green roof industry is growing rapidly in response to the pressing need for cleaner air, better storm-water management, improved energy efficiency an more usable green space in our communities,” Steven Peck said.

Strong growth of North America’s rapidly expanding green roof industry is expected to stimulate similar growth in Australia.

  • Pictured: A lack of green urban spaces prompted a group from Dalhousie School of Architecture — Asher deGroot, David Gallaugher, Kevin James, and Jacob Jebailey — to create a whimsical artistic response: a grassed walking-wheel, which hints at sculptural possibilities for turf on every angle. This (and other marvellous photos) was taken by photojournalist André Forget. Pic sourced from Inhabitat.


  1. February 25 and 26, 2008: First biennial “Introduction to Green Roofs” course at Brisbane Technology Park, Eight Mile Plains, Queensland. Register interest with
  2. February 27 and 28 2008: Second annual “Green Roofs for Australia” conference, at Brisbane Technology Park, Eight Mile Plains, Queensland. Register interest with
  3. April 30- May 2, 2008: Sixth Annual “Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities” conference in Baltimore, United States – at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel and Baltimore Convention Center. Information here.

June 5, 2007 at 2:40 am Leave a comment