The innovative design process for this unique project offers an opportunity for healthy, local produce and a new way to efficiently heat the building. Architects are designing more ways to bring the health benefits of green into projects around the world.

Underneath a 26-floor office tower in Stockholm, an underground space once used as an archive for a newspaper will soon become a farm. And because of a unique business model, the urban farmers growing greens in the new farm won’t pay rent–their farm will pay for itself in heat.

Like some other indoor farms, the Plantagon CityFarm, set to begin production in early 2018, will grow greens in vertical towers under LED lights. But by capturing the heat from the lights–heat that would normally have to be vented out of the room and require air conditioning to keep the plants from overheating–the farm operators can send it into a heat storage system for the office building, and the heat can be used to help keep the offices warm through the winter.

The system will save the office building 700,000 kilowatt-hours of energy a year, worth roughly three times as much as the previous tenant of the basement was paying in rent.

“[The building owner] agreed to give us a free lease for three years, so we don’t pay one single Swedish kroner for the room,” says Plantagon cofounder Hans Hassle. “This is the challenge, very often, for urban farmers: If you really want to grow things in the city, you have to find new business models that actually make the food not too expensive in the end.”
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