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Photo of Port City Paper Building
The Charleston Vertical Farm Design Feasibility Study was done in collaboration with Clemson University's Centers of Economic Excellence in Urban Ecology & Restoration and Sustainable Development and the City of Charleston. The study evaluated the repurposing of an existing building to house a vertical farm, powering it with solar and wind energy and using enhanced cyberinfrastructure and environmental informatics to monitor and operate the farm by incorporating the Intelligent River® cyberinfrastructure network that will provide real-time remote-data acquisition.

As the world's population increases, developing farmable land will be a challenge. One option is to farm vertically instead of horizontally. Dense urban centers would have multistory buildings with floor atop floor of fruits and vegetables grown in highly environmentally efficient ways, such as using hydroponics and aeroponics.
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An interdisciplinary team was formed to conduct the analysis, which focuses on agriculture, horticulture, green building and the architectural potential of available sites that to be considered for a vertical farm location.
Research elements focused on water and energy self-sufficiency by incorporating elements of:

  • alternative energy sources and gray water collection and reuse;
  • green-roof and vertical garden technologies;
  • sustainable production of high­-quality organic foods within a reduced urban footprint;
  • enhanced hydroponics;
  • rooftop and vertical wetlands for urban farmwater quality treatment;
  • and multilevel community-based sustainable development education.