Chicago Vertical Farm Gets Grant for Renewable Energy System

Cindy Zimmerman

An innovative sustainable food production project in the Windy City has received a grant for a renewable energy system that uses waste materials.

The project called “The Plant” was recently awarded a total of $1.5 million in grant funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to support a comprehensive renewable energy system that will accept up to 12,000 tons of food scraps annually. Most of the material will be spent grain from an onsite craft brewery, New Chicago Brewing Company, and from other breweries around Chicago – material that is currently sent to landfills.

By installing an anaerobic digester and combined heat and power system, The Plant will create about 380 kilowatts of electricity and 2.1 million BTU of heat – enough to meet the full energy needs of the 93,500 square-foot facility. The digester will allow The Plant to become independent of the grid and produce power and heat at between one-quarter and one-third of current utility costs to its tenants. In addition to the craft brewery, The Plant has plans for a bakery and aquaponics growing systems.

The total project costs are approximately $3 million and will be completed by June 2013.