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Conference paper2022Peer reviewed

Light for life: new light solutions for urban plant sites

Zhang, Y.; Yang, Y.; Dubois, M-C


Within the next 30 years, two thirds of the human population will live in a city. This growing urban population requires a major shift in the way we produce and distribute food, since conventional agriculture practices are responsible for climate change, biodiversity losses, pollution of waterways, soil degradation, etc. Urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry represent one of the strategies that can contribute to climate mitigation, adaptation and development. Amongst the urban farming systems, rooftop plant factories may provide part of the solution for vegetable and fruit production in the city, while solving current problems created by existing flat roofs and saving on arable land outside the city. This article presents a study of rooftop greenhouse located on a typical warehouse in Malmo, Sweden (lat. 55.6 degrees N, long. 13.0 degrees E). The goal of the study was to investigate the effect on energy use of building a greenhouse on the roof of an existing warehouse. The study was performed by dynamic energy simulations with the computer program IDA-ICE. The results show that adding the rooftop greenhouse on the warehouse reduces total energy use compared to greenhouse and warehouse as stand-alone structures. Furthermore, the results indicate that the glazing and shading solutions are important aspects determining the energy-efficiency of the integrated system. The energy use for electric lighting is also significantly reduced by the rooftop greenhouse compared to an indoor horizontal farm of similar size illuminated by LED lamps. The main conclusion is that rooftop greenhouses offer a great potential for food production in the city with the additional benefit of reducing overall energy use of host building and greenhouse. Rooftop greenhouses are also more energy-efficient than indoor farms illuminated by LEDs, when considering all energy end-uses (heating, cooling, lighting, and ventilation).


cities; daylighting; energy conservation; food; greenhouse; lighting; roof; rooftop greenhouse (RTG); urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry (UPAF); urban farming (UF)

Published in

Acta Horticulturae
2022, Volume: 1337, pages: 417-434
eISBN: 978-94-62613-36-2
Publisher: International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS)


9th International Symposium on Light in Horticulture, MAY 31-JUN 02, 2021, Malmo, SWEDEN

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Energy Systems

    Publication identifier


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