Plantagon, a Swedish food technology company, has released an office building design called “Plant Building”, and plans to build the first such magnificent indoor farm + office building in Linkoping, shetland, Sweden. Due to the unique business model of this farm, the urban farmers who cultivate here do not need to pay any rent at all, because the heat energy generated by the farm is enough to pay the amount.
The Plantagon underground farm, like other indoor farms, will grow plants in buildings with LED lighting. But the difference of Plantagon is that the heat generated by the lighting in the original room is usually discharged from the room to prevent the plants from overheating, but the Plantagon directly collects the heat and stores it in the building’s thermal energy storage system, which can assist office buildings. people keep warm in winter.
The way this underground farm collects heat energy is to use the water pipes passing through the LED lights to store heat energy in the water and then lead it to the heat pump system. This thermal energy storage system will allow the building to save 700,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, which is equivalent to saving three times the rent of the basement. In addition, the carbon dioxide produced in the office will also be discharged to the farm, and the fresh oxygen produced by the farm’s fruits and vegetables will be sent back to the office workers.
“The building owner agreed to let us pay rent for three years, so we don’t have to pay a dime for the basement right now,” said Hans Hassle, co-founder of Plantagon. “For urban farmers, if you really want to To grow vegetables and fruits in cities, we must find novel business models to make the food less expensive.”
The company plans to sell fruits and vegetables directly to office workers in the same building and two restaurants in it; about 1/3 of the production will be sold to nearby grocery stores, and the delivery process is close without consuming any petroleum fuel ; The other 1/3 of the production will be sold in the shop in the building.
“In Sweden, people are more interested in locally grown food than in organic food,” says Hassle. “People usually want to know where the food comes from.”
Hassle adds that if a piece of organic lettuce is shipped hundreds, or even thousands of miles, to the store, it could have a higher environmental footprint than lettuce grown on a local indoor farm.
Plantagon plans to open 10 underground farms in Stockholm within the next three years, starting with buildings already equipped with underground heat pump systems. The preparatory team is also discussing with local energy companies the possibility of selling the remaining thermal energy to other buildings in the area.
In Linkoping, a city 2 hours away from Stockholm, the company is planning to expand its underground farm into a 16-story “plant skyscraper”. In addition to the production of fruits and vegetables in the entire building, 2/3 of the space will be rented out for office use to maintain stable operations. The program is expected to be implemented in 2020 or 2021.
Another similar indoor farm project by Plantagon will also be implemented in Singapore. In this country that lacks arable land, most of the crops are imported from neighboring countries, like Malaysia, and when countries like Malaysia have less and less irrigable land and more and more people, Singapore has begun to be concerned about what can be done within its own territory. Plantagon urban farms that grow food generate interest. Similarly, some cities in China where it is difficult to get enough food have also started to discuss cooperation with Plantagon.
The company is raising funds on the crowdfunding platform FundedByMe to build its first farm. Hassle wants the initiative to reach as many people as possible, not just for financial reasons, but because he believes every citizen needs to be an active shareholder in urban agriculture.
“For us, food production is different from running other businesses. Food is like water. It is part of human rights,” Hassle said. “So we have a greater social responsibility and responsibility for the environment. This is the reason what we actively invite people to own some equity is because everyone should contribute.”