Food Production and the Built Environment: How Local Can You Go? CEA Panel


The idea of growing fruits and vegetables on or in a building has been around as long as construction has existed, but renewed interest in serious agricultural production within cities has inspired a number of innovations in the integration of small-scale farming into new and existing building designs. While the use of greenhouses and hydroponics is expanding exponentially throughout the agricultural industry and evolving into what is now commonly called controlled-environment agriculture (CEA), the space limitations of an urban environment results in even more creative methods of food production. Along with traditional container gardening on balconies and larger open gardens on rooftops, multi-level CEA, or vertical farming, and similar techniques are growing in popularity as demand for their high-quality produce increases.

Chris Wark and Richard Nelson examine some of these concepts and trends in CEA and urban farming with an emphasis on technical advancements and issues. Topics covered in their conversation include: awareness and benefits of urban farming; using CEA and rooftop farming to make food available to those who need it the most; energy and CEA; and the future of urban agriculture.

Conference Speakers

Richard Nelson

SolaRoof International CEO & Owner

Richard Nelson is an inventor and author of Solaroof technology and know-how and as SolaRoof Guy at the SolaRoof Wiki, he has co-created the hub of a global Open Source collaborative. Richard is on life-long mission to create “living structures” including dwellings, as Eco Habitat and a built environment that reconnects people with nature. His CEE (Closed Ecological Environment) system provides for abundant provision of all the essentials of life with the integration of regenerative cycles for food/energy/water. SolaRoof technology, as defined in Richard’s several patents is dedicated to a Creative Commons Public License (3.0) so as to provide a platform for global collaboration & cooperation that can build a world of abundance for all. Richard's goal at this time is the launch of the Agri POD solution for family food security, health and prosperity.


Christopher G. Wark

Wark Energy Consulting Principal, Ponix Founder

Christopher G. Wark is currently Principal of Wark Energy Consulting and the founder of Ponix, a development-stage company that is creating a line of compact plant enclosures for the CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) market. Chris has 28 years of multidisciplinary engineering experience providing mechanical, analytical, and electronics support and services to manufacturers, universities and national labs. He holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering (with a minor in Materials Science) from Washington State University where his graduate work focused on thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and combustion. For the past 15 years, Chris has focused his efforts on the development and promotion of technical solutions in architecture and construction. He has provided energy and environmental quality analysis, CFD modeling, and LEED consulting services for several engineering and building consulting firms in New York and California.

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