Canada will soon have its first net-zero vertical farm, — a farm that produces as much clean energy as they consume — thanks to a partnership between U of T Scarborough and Centennial College.
The two Ontario post-secondary schools are teaming up to create the EaRTH District, an initiative aimed at advancing the cleantech sector through research, academic programming and commercialization.
EaRTH, which stands for Environmental and Related Technologies Hub, will be located at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus and will be a knowledge and training hub in the eastern Greater Toronto Area (GTA), focusing on the development of clean technologies.
“We know the future belongs to sustainable, clean technology and this partnership complements the strengths of both Centennial College and U of T Scarborough,” says Andrew Arifuzzaman, U of T Scarborough’s CAO.
U of T Scarborough is renowned for its expertise in the environmental sciences, while Centennial College is a leader in providing training in new and emerging sectors of the economy, says Arifuzzaman.
“This commitment is also an exciting opportunity to bring economic activity and jobs to the Eastern GTA in a sector that is only going to become more important in the future.”
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A highlight of the partnership plans is the development of Canada’s first net-zero vertical farm and living lab that will “apply innovative technologies to food production in an urban setting.”
The vertical farm will create training and research opportunities in a variety of fields including waste management, clean energy, sustainable building design, water conservation, and urban agriculture, among others.
“Every single component of the building, from the heating and cooling to the lighting to the vertical farm, is an element that students, industry and the community can interact with,” says Andrew Petrou, director of strategic initiatives and external relations at Centennial College
“The goal is that they would be able to engage with this facility at all levels through programming, research, testing, and experiential learning opportunities.”
Petrou added that one of the goals of the EaRTH District is to “bring together industry, government, community, and academia to develop clean technology that can help build more resilient communities.”
Another goal is to connect with other cleantech innovation hubs across the world, building a global network to support and advance the sector.
According to a release, the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year and have already undergone an extensive consultation process for the vertical farm.
“The vertical farm will become a key resource in assisting communities across Canada in tackling issues related to food, water, air, energy, waste, and advanced design and integrative systems,” says Professor Bernie Kraatz, vice-principal research at U of T Scarborough.
“These are all key areas in understanding how to create resilient communities in the face of climate change.”