Simply called ‘The Plant,’ one of Chicago’s latest industrial renovations is providing some innovative groundwork for companies looking to make a sustainable, and profitable, communal contribution. The three-story aquaponic farm in the Back of the Yards Park area is being molded out of a retired, 93,000 square foot meat-packing facility. One third of the building will consist of the vertical farming operations, with the rest being leased to sustainable startups – including the New Chicago Brewery, a kombucha tea company, an artisanal bakery, a tilapia farm, and more.
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The most interesting part of the project is the way these ventures support and sustain one another. Through creative industry pairing and some innovative engineering, the products of each venture will become the raw materials for other businesses within the complex. For example, the oxygen created by the vegetable farming operations will be used in kambucha production, which will produce carbon dioxide for the plants – the plants will also clean the waters for the tilapia, while the tilapia themselves will feed on the spent barley from the brewery. Organic waste from all of the companies will be fed into an anaerobic digester, which feeds biogas into a generator to create electricity for the entire complex.
The video below showcases how the recycling of materials allows the plant to be extremely efficient and achieve net-zero energy standards – all while providing over a hundred ‘green’ jobs for the local community.