How Vertical Farming Works
Image courtesy of: Futurism
How Vertical Farming Works
By 2050, there will be 3 billion more people in existence, and close to 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. The demand for food will be unprecedented, and we will need to figure out how to get food to the cities in the most effective way.
Enter vertical farming – the idea of building entire skyscrapers occupied with vertically-stacked farms that produce crops twice as fast, while using 40% less power, having 80% less food waste, and using 99% less water than outdoor fields.
Is it feasible, or is it a futuristic money pit?
The Advantages of Vertical Farming
There’s no question that vertical farming has enticing potential benefits.
The first is yield. Vertical farming can produce crops year-round, which increases production efficiency by a multiplier of 4 to 6 depending on the crop. There would also be less wastage and spoilage, as most of the crops could be sold fresh in a market or restaurant from the same facility. It’s estimated that 30% of harvested crops today are lost due to spoilage or infestation.
Secondly, vertical farming has less risk associated with it. Big weather events such as floods, droughts, or storms can put a dent into agricultural activity fast, costing farmers billions of dollars. Farming indoors can reduce the risk of these types of events to as low as possible.
Lastly, vertical farming is inherently more sustainable. By stacking farms vertically, the productivity per unit of land can be many times higher and arable land can be saved for other purposes. Further, there are no transportation costs to get the crops to market, and energy and water can be recycled within the building. Methane digesters can even help convert organic waste to energy to help power the building.
On paper, vertical farming seems to have big advantages.
Too Good to be True?
Critics of vertical farming question the potential profitability of commercial operations.
They say the capital expenditures, as well as the additional energy costs for lighting and heating, could outweigh any benefits. Building complex plumbing and elevator systems to distribute food and water throughout a 30-story building is not easy.
Meanwhile, for traditional farming operations, both sunlight and heat are free. Irrigation is generally cheap as well.
The benefits of vertically-stacked farms would have to outweigh the increased costs. With billions of new people being added to cities over the next decades, this could come be sooner than later.
Original graphic by: Futurism
Modular Housing vs. Traditional Housing: How Do They Compare?
Modular housing can be completed 40% faster and costs 10-25% less than traditional construction methods. Is the future of housing modular?
Modular Housing vs. Traditional Housing: How Do They Compare?
The U.S. needs new houses. Lots of them.
With housing prices nearing six times annual incomes, increasing supply is a must if there is any hope of bringing down house prices, and modular housing could be the solution.
This visualization is the third and final piece of the Reimagining Home Series from our sponsor Boxabl, where we compare the benefits of modular housing against traditional construction methods. Let’s start with the basics.
What Is Modular Housing?
Modular homes are built offsite, in standardized sections, usually in a factory setting. They are then transported to the building site and assembled on a waiting foundation. Once complete, modular homes look just like any other house.
Modular housing is not the same as manufactured homes, which are also sometimes called mobile homes. Like modular housing, manufactured homes are built offsite in a factory, but the key difference is that they can be moved after being assembled. Modular homes aren’t meant to be moved again after final assembly.
6 Ways Modular Homes Differ to Traditional Homes
The following benefits are based on information from the Modular Home Building Association, as well as a paper given at the 2020 Creative Construction e-Conference by members of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington.
1. Speed of Construction
Because of the piecemeal nature of modular construction, many building activities can be done simultaneously, greatly reducing the overall time of completion. At the same time, because construction happens indoors, weather delays aren’t an issue. Overall, a modular housing project can be completed in 40% less time than using traditional building construction methods.
2. Cost Effectiveness
Standardization of design, less transportation of materials onsite, and the reduced impact of weather are some of the reasons that modular housing can be much cheaper than traditional building methods. According to the authors of the paper, there was a 10-25% decrease in construction costs for modular housing, again, compared to traditional methods.
A common misconception is that modular housing isn’t customizable. While many manufacturers will often begin with a starter floor plan, they may also offer various customization options throughout the home.
4. Safety Record
Construction is a dangerous way to make a living. In 2021, construction and extraction workers held the number two spot for fatal occupational injuries in the U.S., with 951 work fatalities.When you drill down into that number, construction tradespeople are in the majority, by far, with 726 that year alone.
|Transportation and material moving occupations||1,523|
|Construction and extraction occupations||951|
|Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations||475|
|Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations||356|
|Protective service occupations||302|
|Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations||218|
|Sales and related occupations||200|
|Food preparation and serving related occupations||101|
|Office and administrative support occupations||91|
|Personal care and service occupations||64|
|Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations||57|
|Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations||45|
|Community and social services occupations||40|
|Healthcare support occupations||32|
|Architecture and engineering occupations||29|
|Business and financial operations occupations||27|
|Educational instruction and library occupations||16|
|Life, physical, and social science occupations||10|
|Computer and mathematical occupations||6|
Because modular construction happens in a controlled, factory environment, the number of accidents decreases by 80% compared to traditional building methods.
5. Environmental Impact
Anyone who has walked past a residential build site can testify to the amount of waste produced during construction. Modular construction is more efficient and therefore produces less waste. And because onsite construction is limited to assembly, there is less dust and noise. Carbon emissions are also 38% lower.
6. Built to Last
Modular housing is as good, if not better constructed, than many traditionally-built houses. The factory environment allows for superior quality control, and homes built this way use 15-20% more wood per square foot, which makes them stronger. Moreover, in a study commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew found that modular housing “performed much better than conventional residential framing.”
A Market On The Rise
Not only is modular housing cheaper and greener than traditional construction methods, it is also a market on the rise.
According to a recent report, the global modular construction market is expected to reach $54 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 2.9% between 2021 to 2027.
Thinking Outside of the Box on Housing
Modular housing could be a solution to the housing affordability crisis not only in the U.S., but around the world. And with the global city population expected to hit 68% by 2050, it’s time to think outside the box on housing.
Boxabl uses advanced, mass production techniques to build and ship homes that significantly lower the cost of home ownership for everyone.
This is the final piece in the Reimagining Home Series from our sponsor, Boxabl. Be sure to read parts one and two on urbanization and affordable housing.
Learn more about how Boxabl is helping tackle the housing affordability crisis.
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