10. Pure Roots Urban Farm: Assessing the energy demands of indoor vertical farming


Project Title

Assessing the energy demands of indoor vertical farming

Organization Name

Pure Roots Urban Farms


Traceability, indoor farming, vertical farming, energy use

Related Course Concepts

Food security

Organization Information

Organization Name

Pure Roots Urban Farms

Mission and Vision of Organization


Connecting people to their food and their farmer while bringing pure, sustainable and nutrient rich foods to communities around the world.


To make a positive global impact on the nutrition and availability of local produce in the most sustainable way possible.

Guiding Principles + Values

Sustainability, traceability, innovation, honesty, science.

Contact Information

  • Primary Contact Person(s): Lena Syrovy or Bailey Fischl
  • Email: lena@purerootsfarms.com, bailey@purerootsfarms.com
  • Phone: (306)290-8786
  • Address: #230 - 111 Research Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 3R2
  • Website: https://www.purerootsfarms.com/

Preferred Method of Contact

  • Best method(s) to contact: Email
  • Best day(s) to contact:Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
  • Best time(s) to contact: Mornings, Afternoons

Project Description

Context: What challenge or issue does the project aim to address?

Environmental conditions, seasonality, and availability of land and water resources limit where and when food can be grown. As a result, perishable foods are often grown far from where they will be eaten and transported long distances to the consumer. Especially out of season, produce can be in transit under refrigeration for several days before it reaches the store, lowering quality and consuming energy in the process. Indoor, aeroponic vertical farming can begin to address these challenges by allowing perishable foods to be produced year-round where they will be eaten. Aeroponic growing reduces water and fertilizer inputs by 95 and 85% respectively, and can grow an equivalent amount of produce annually on less than 5% of the land compared with outdoor growing.

Pure Roots Urban Farms develops small footprint, modular farms using aeroponic technology to grow fresh produce in urban areas. Despite its benefits, indoor production requires energy to manufacture and transport all the components and growing inputs, as well as operate the system. At Pure Roots we are very interested in better understanding our energy consumption, and finding ways to lower it.

Currently based in Saskatoon, SK, we are establishing a location in Surrey, BC during the 2020 growing season. As we prepare to open our new facility, we want to have a better understanding of:

  • How much energy we consume in growing, packaging, and transporting produce
  • How the energy consumed by our local vertical farming model compares with the alternative of sourcing from outdoor local growers for half the year, and importing produce the other half

Main Project Activities

Reviewing research, finding information, calculating energy consumption for different models, making comparisons, making recommendations

Expected Project Deliverable(s)

  • Written report
  • Oral presentation with Q&A
  • Infographic

Student Assets and Skills (preferred or required)

  • Interest in indoor farming, technology-based agriculture and food security

Student Assets and Skills (to be developed through the project)

  • CO2 footprinting, life cycle assessment, or other form of energy assessment
  • Comparing and contrasting different food production and distribution systems

Are there any mandatory attendance dates (e.g. special event)?

  • No

Is a criminal record check required?

  • No

Project Location

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

  • Flexible

Related Community Service Opportunities for Students

  • None at this time

Required Reading

Project/Partner Orientation Materials

Students should review these materials prior to the first partner meeting:

Additional Project/Partner Orientation Materials

The following will be provided at the first community partner meeting:

  • We’re hoping to do a facility tour pending construction timelines

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

I hope students will learn about...

  • applying scientific research to compare and form an opinion on different food production methods.

I think students will come to appreciate...

  • the complexities of food production and distribution and the benefits and drawbacks of vertical farming in addressing some of the challenges.

Through this project, students will develop...

  • a better understanding of the energy consumed by growing plants (crop inputs) in different production systems; harvesting and packaging produce; and transportation and delivery in different food distribution models.

Organizational Outcomes

Intended Project Outcome

The project will increase our understanding of how much energy we spend, and where. It will identify key areas to focus our efforts as we consider:

  • How can we lower our energy consumption?
  • Where we can have the biggest impact?

Medium Term Outcome

We are interested in using a data-driven approach to make our farming and food delivery operations as sustainable as possible. Our Surrey farm will be our first and we hope that the results of this project will shape our long-term technology and operational choices to minimize our carbon footprint at this location and as we roll out more farms in the future.

How does the student project contribute to your organization's mission and long-term vision?

This project will help shape our long-term technology and operational choices to minimize our carbon footprint as we strive to make a positive global impact on the nutrition and availability of local produce in the most sustainable way possible.

source: https://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/W2020/PureRoots