Sky High – Project C2

Energy saving and optimisation of environmental performance

As the world’s population continues to grow and the demand for food continues to rise, climate change has slowly decreased agricultural production resulting in an even greater demand for land-use change. Agriculture currently contributes 26 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions when considering the full value chain, which contributes to climate change that further reduces yields. On this basis, the global food system needs to greatly reduce its climate impact whilst increasing food production and ceasing to damage natural environments any further.

Source: Signify

Vertical farming is a technology that aims to address these challenges, by stacking production in sealed boxes that are artificially lit and ventilated to carefully control growing conditions. Vertical farms are water efficient, nutrient efficient, highly productive, and do not require herbicides or pesticides. They can also be constructed much closer to cities where demands are highest, which can greatly reduce food miles. However, vertical farms require a massive amount of energy compared to other production systems.

Project C2, as part of the Sky High programme, explores ways in which the energy consumption of vertical farms can be reduced by leveraging symbiotic relationships with the built environment. The research focuses on improving the energy efficiency of the vertical farm itself then explores how the energy performance of vertical farms can be improved further by integrating its electricity, heating, and resource systems with buildings and cities. Finally, the research will determine the carbon implications of these propositions to see if it is possible for vertical farms to be comparable to greenhouse production in terms of carbon emissions.



Programme: Perspectief
Grant amount: € 5.000.000
Contribution to TU Delft: € 500.000
Role TU Delft:  Project partner
Project duration: September 2020 - September 2024
TU Delft researchers:        Andy van Den Dobbelsteen - PI
Dr. Andy Jenkins - Postdoc
Ir. Tess Blom - PhD

Project partners

This research is part of the TTW Perspectief programme “Sky High”, which is supported by AMS Institute, Bayer, Bosman van Zaal, Certhon, Fresh Forward, Grodan, GrowX, Own Greens/Vitroplus, Priva, Signify, Solynta, Unilever, van Bergen Kolpa Architects, and the Dutch Research Council (NWO).

Academic partners: Wageningen University & Research, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, Utrecht University, University of Applied Sciences (Den Bosch).


Dr. Andy Jenkins