Monday, June 18, 2012

Buffalo Rising article on Living Green Institute of Buffalo and Plantagon

Could Buffalo, one day, be home to a Plantagon?

 Buffalo Rising
 By Jennifer Zeh:

Buffalo has been presented the opportunity to be the third city in a 100 city initiative to grow a greener urban world.

Plantagon International AB, a global brand leader within urban agriculture, is currently in the process of building the first Plantagon outside Stockholm, Sweden. The production is scheduled to be completed in early 2013.

A Plantagon (facebook) is a vertical greenhouse for urban farming which would eliminate the need to transport fresh and organic produce to consumers. The result is simple: better food at a better price while reducing environmental damage and creating jobs in the city.

Plantagon is partnered with SWECO, an international consulting company with sustainable engineering and designs, and is selected to partner with Swedish company SymbioCity.

Plantagon is seeking to construct a second structure in China, with Buffalo as a possible third, and then Barcelona as the fourth. At this point spokesman and director of the Buffalo project Pierre Wallinder told me that he is hoping that The City would play a role in helping to make this happen, and that Plantagon has expressed a willingness to come up with a portion of the funding. Other funding sources would be dependent upon site locations and configuration studies, and Pierre is currently in the process of seeking appropriate partners. "The goal is to produce, on a 12-month cycle, organic and local produce at lowered prices," Wallinder said. "The Plantagon concept is flexible and could come in many forms - the Plantagon being built in Sweden is a $15,000,000 project, which, when considering the benefits, is not a prohibitive figure."

With Buffalo being the third poorest city in America it has a substantial need for organic produce. Buffalo also has immense potential with its location being able to access 40 million people within a four hour commute. "I would not be surprised if we see a continued integration into this area," Wallinder said.

Along with being cost-effective, Plantagon is more space-efficient and the helix process it utilizes increases the production possibilities. The energy efficiency is also higher than that of a normal green house.

Along with the produce benefits, Plantagon would work in cooperation with the Living Green Institute of Buffalo (facebook) under executive director Laurianne Griffis to provide nutrition education to citizens.

The structure is also considered to be attractive and would create jobs for local industries such as construction, hospitalities, agriculture and tourism. The structure can be free-standing and designed and built to utilize space provided, or it can revamp an existing structure or area, which is more eco friendly and would give certain Buffalo landmarks a helpful spruce.

The chosen architect for the project is David Stieglitz of Stieglitz Snyder Architecture.

Places that have been considered for the Plantagon location include the Broadway Market, the waterfront and the old grain silos, a Buffalo invention and the largest collection of silos in the world. Wallinder said that ultimately the location decision will be based on the community's wants, but the Buffalo team feels that the Outer Harbor would be best due to its accessibility. "We are finally seeing that area rising up. Our whole lives should be down there," Griffis said.

Among other initiatives being put into action around the city, Plantagon would help change Buffalo into America's first and largest green and sustainable city. A sustainability center would benefit Buffalo by not only selling the organic produce but by cooperating with local farmers to expand the organic options in a complete market, providing for restaurants and cafes, a recreation and health center and an educational center.

Integrating Plantagon into an existing infrastructure of the city would take the current surplus heat and waste and would put it to use, creating food out of wastes and decreasing energy costs and emissions. Other advantages to Plantagon are food security, decreased CO2 emissions, selling directly to consumers, better land use and an increase in value of surrounding properties. The payback period is estimated to be three to five years.

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