Energy Implications of Vertically Integrated Greenhouses on Office buildings

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The global greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in buildings and agriculture accounts for 17% and 18% respectively, which has a significant impact on climate change. Therefore, both the sectors are actively looking at energy-efficient methods to reduce their carbon emission by shifting to more sustainable solutions. One such solution is Vertically Integrated Greenhouses (VIG). This research investigates the impact of such systems on the building’s energy consumption. The case study has been performed on the EEMCS building of TU Delft, in the Netherlands. The crop chosen for the study is strawberry, as it is one of the most consumed greenhouse fruits by the Dutch population. The energy needed for the building and the greenhouse to maintain the comfortable indoor temperature was calculated. An additional novel method of storing the surplus heat was incorporated in the design in the form of Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES). This system provides heating and cooling energy which reduces the dependency on fossil fuels and reduces the carbon emissions. A comparative study on the carbon footprint due to energy used in the building was done in order to analyse the impact of introducing an ATES system in mitigating climate change. Further, a rainwater harvesting system was incorporated aiming to fulfil the water requirement of the plants, this thereby reduces the dependence on an external water source. Such synergetic systems reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and thereby significantly reducing their carbon emission. The proposed design of integrating VIG on the façade of the existing building showed an additional 292 MWh of energy consumption when compared to the current scenario. However, the introduction of ATES resulted in a 40% total reduction in the carbon emission of the energy consumed by the building. In addition to the carbon emission reduction, an annual yield of 227 tonnes of strawberry is also achieved. Thus, the role of having such a synergetic system is highlighted.