Gallery: London Farm Tower: Sustainable Skyscraper Could Meet 20 Percen...

Martella’s vertical farm tower isn’t all about produce, however. About 100,000 square meters are dedicated to residential space. Residents receive social benefits including education and employment as well as labs, cafes and markets.

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  1. charles.brodhead3 August 14, 2011 at 3:44 am

    @lazyreader — Thx for applying some much-needed reality to the pie-in-the-sky vertical farm concept.

    According to
    The average American eats 1,996.3 lbs. of food per year. To be ultra-conservative let’s assume that Londoners only eat 1,000 lbs a year. The population of London (as opposed to the larger urban or metropolitan areas) is 7,825,200 people (, or ~7.8 billion lbs/year of food. Let’s compare that to the London Farm Tower’s 1.5 million lbs/year. The claimed “ability to meet 20 percent of London’s food demands!” is actually 0.02%. In other words you would need 1,000 of these vertical farms to feed 20% of London (assuming that they were sustainable in the first place). Not at all practical in the presence of far more efficient, effective, and less cost-intensive measures to reduce environmental footprint and energy-use.

  2. kraigkarson August 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Insert long boring comment to see myself in the “poor man’s spotlight” Great article.. sorry about the ego drones above

  3. lazyreader August 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Buildings (especially highrises) require huge HVAC systems to move air around buildings especially to keep the building from overheating and to equalize pressure. And air filters to prevent the spread of microbes, pathogens and fungal spores. You have to move immense amounts of air inside a multi story greenhouse to keep vegetables from rotting or succumbing to blight and diseases. Of course you have to keep the inside cool enough due to the vast array of interior lighting needed to grow food in the first place. Can’t keep the windows open which means you cant grow food in the autumn and winter time.

  4. lazyreader August 3, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Depending on rainwater or sunlight……………depending???? Almost every city has it’s own scheme involving vertical farms. The vertical farm, which has been largely discredited by real scientists and economists as impractical, expensive, energy intensive and useless. A detailed cost analysis of start-up costs, operation costs, and revenue has not been done (they never bothered to do one). The extra cost of additional lighting, heating, and powering the vertical farm may negate any of the cost benefits received by the decrease in transportation expenses. The economic and environmental benefits of vertical farming rest partly on the concept of minimizing food miles, the distance that food travels from farm to consumers. Transport is only a minor contributor to the economic and environmental costs of supplying food to urban populations. Fitting more food onto a truck makes the process more efficient. Food Miles are, at best, a marketing fad, we need to substitute food-miles with pounds moved per gallon of fuel used or pound-gallons and suddenly trucks are way more efficient than if you were driving a hybrid car to some local market to pick up some local produce even when the supermarket food is hundreds or thousands of miles away.

    The initial building costs will be easily over $100 million for a highrise; even more so in cities with huge real estate prices like New York, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Madrid, or London. Engineering constraints regarding the weight of soil, water, piping, etc. will add to the cost. For instance, in North America, corn farmers currently gross approximately $1000 per hectare. It is difficult to imagine a few additional hectares of vertical farm in the city, with its enormous expenses, profiting from growing corn, or any other staple crop. It would be like using a Rolls Royce as a tractor. As the normal amount of light, which is over 90 percent utilized by field crops, is being split between 30 or so floors, ten to forty watts per square foot of supplemental light will be required to illuminate the interior of large towers. According to Bruce Bugbee, a crop physiologist at Utah State University, believes that the huge power demands of vertical farming would be too expensive and uncompetitive with traditional farms using only natural light which is essentially free. Regular greenhouse produce is known to create more greenhouse gases than field produce largely due to higher energy use per kilogram of produce. With vertical farms requiring much greater energy for produce, mainly through increased lighting, than regular greenhouses, the amount of pollution created will be much higher than that from field produce.

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