The focus of sustainable development is far broader than just the environment. It's also about meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities. One of the most pressing concerns today is food security which has become increasingly threatened as UK food imports rise.
The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) was the Government's independent adviser on sustainable development. In its final report Sustainability and UK food policy (2011), the SDC urged the Government to accelerate the process of building a genuine sustainable food system and recommending Governments:
- work with business to develop plans for creating more sustainable UK food systems by 2030
- prioritise reversing the decline in UK food production, helping expand vegetable crops sustainably
- work to create local food partnerships to meet local sustainability goals
Consequently the hotel proposes to include a small internal area (39 m2) for a Hydroponic Vertical Farm located in the basement. Crops will be grown in Supra Rotary Gardens (manufactured by Omega Garden Institute) which do not require natural light. A single garden has a footprint of only 0.75 m2 (8 ft2) but can accommodate 80 plants. The gardens are 1m (38 in) tall and stackable up to 6 high, massively increasing the already impressive yield/area (though spatial constraints mean we are limited to 5 high). Growing conditions will be optimised, so as to achieve a maximum harvest cycle of 20 days.
Whilst 39 m2 (420 ft2) may not sound like a meaningful size for a vertical farm, the Supra Garden’s design efficiency (enabling 24 hr growth each and every day), and stacking capability, in tandem with an optimised environment, results in productivity which outstrips even the most advanced indoor systems many times over. A assuming a single crop for illustrative purpose (say lettuce), the farm would produce over 225,000 heads pa with an average daily yield of over 625 lettuces.
Due to spatial constraints, the layout of gardens is based on maximising their number rather than the most efficient use of the floor area - resulting in a 40% reduction of gardens/m2 when compared to an ideal layout (for more information see Vertical Farm PDF).