The Sustainability of Urban Rooftop Farms
MetadataShow full item record
Population is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050 with a majority living in urban areas. With the effects of climate change and a growing number of mouths to feed, urban rooftop farming initiatives have emerged as an interesting solution to solving the myriad of challenges facing cities. The production of food on rooftops has been linked to a wide range of sustainability aspects as it can contribute to improving food security, heat island effect mitigation, biodiversity increase, job creation, storm water management and social cohesion. Rooftop farm initiatives have been gaining momentum over the past decades. A growing body of literature has been developed, reviewing the current trends, sustainability aspects and performance of rooftop farms compared to that of conventional production. However, to achieve the full sustainability potential of urban rooftop farms, understanding the critical aspects that contribute to their impact considering the environmental, economic, and social perspectives is essential. This research focuses on understanding the classification of different types of rooftop farming initiatives by compiling ongoing urban rooftop farms (URFs) worldwide. A review of the current literature on the different sustainability aspects of rooftop agriculture is then conducted. Moreover, the study analyzes the environmental and economic performance of URFs by examining the life cycle assessment and costings to determine the key benefits, impacts and areas of improvement. The sustainability assessment then formed the basis for recommendations on the design of sustainable URFs. Results show that the typology, farming methods and function of URFs can vary widely in turn influencing their sustainability impact. At present, the metrics being used to evaluate the performance of URF do not evaluate the full range of sustainability benefits. Future research should focus on developing new metrics to provide a complete picture of the sustainability impact of rooftop farms.