Vertical Farms: The Smart Buildings That Grow Food

Mar 19, 2020

Smart buildings control temperature, humidity and light to create an environment where the occupants can thrive. It’s complicated when the occupants are human, but what if they were fruits and leafy greens in a vertical farm? That would be an excellent application for Isowall® insulated panels.

Driving Forces Behind Vertical Farms

Vertical farming is getting more attention. Two factors behind this are land scarcity and transport costs. (And behind transport costs there’s growing concern over the environmental impact of importing food from faraway places.)

Around our major cities land is very expensive. That’s pushing farms further out from population centers, which increases transport costs. In Canada we’re not short of land but on a global scale there may not be enough to support continued population growth.

An issue we do face in Canada is our climate. Many of the fruits and leafy greens people want to eat are seasonal. Yes, polytunnels and greenhouses extend the growing season but they are expensive to heat.

So why not grow food the same way we house people in urban areas – indoors and vertically?

Vertical Farming in the Smart Building

Plants are fussy about temperature and humidity. They also need lots of light. Multi-floor structures only allow light in from the sides, which isn’t ideal. So why not forget about windows and use LED lighting with a spectrum that matches sunlight?

Clearly, this lighting needs to come on and go off at appropriate times. That’s a good job for an automated system, as is maintaining the ideal temperature and humidity. Conceivably, pilferage could become a problem in an urban vertical farm, so automated access control might also be desirable.

Now we’re talking about a smart building.

Temperature Control with Isowall Insulated Panels

Windows would be a problem in the smart vertical farm. Sunlight streaming in would raise temperatures in some parts of the building, complicating climate control. Plus, heat would go out through them in winter. Isowall insulated panels present an affordable alternative. With their high R-value these will minimize heating and cooling demands and help improve the economics of vertical farming.

About Isowall Insulated Panels

These are solid panels made from a rigid expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam core sandwiched between steel outer skins. They form an excellent thermal barrier where performance doesn’t drop off over time.

Isowall insulated panels are manufactured in a standard width and interlock for quick assembly. Various finishes are available, they are easily cleaned and are mold and mildew-resistant.

Crops for Vertical Farming

Vertical farming has one rather obvious disadvantage when compared with the wide open spaces of traditional agriculture: even if the floors could take the weight, there’s no space for large machinery. Consequently, it’s more suited to smaller fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Crops like lettuce, arugula, strawberries and tomatoes are all good candidates. Start looking out for a vertical farm using Isowall insulated panels in your neighborhood!