Gotham Greens CEO Outlines Queens, Chicago Expansion Projects

Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago
Gotham Greens’ atrium-style greenhouses are equipped with energy curtains, partial LED lighting, and fully automated environmental controls, to run sustainably. The rooftop structures are engineered and architecturally reinforced, based on city building codes, to allow the operation to use otherwise wasted space to produce crops in food desert cities.

Gotham Greens took the greenhouse industry by storm when it built the first rooftop greenhouse in the U.S. in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, back in 2011. The 15,000-square-foot facility was designed to serve local grocery stores with 100,000 pounds annually of locally grown, sustainably produced leafy greens and herbs, including butterhead lettuce, basil, and arugula. Since then, the operation has expanded to three more locations.

The second location, a custom-built, 20,000-square-foot greenhouse constructed on the roof of a Whole Foods store, provides fresh produce to retail customers downstairs, taking locally grown to a new level. The greenhouse opened in January 2014, and produces more than 200 tons of fresh leafy greens and tomatoes annually.

In November 2015, Gotham Greens expanded beyond New York to open its first greenhouse in Chicago, on top of a new Method Products soap factory in the historic Pullman neighborhood. The 75,000-square-foot structure is currently the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world, and employs 40 people. The facility is expected to produce more than 10 million heads of leafy greens, which will be sold to local food retailers, restaurants and caterers. A small portion will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Most recently, the fourth location of Gotham Greens opened in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, NY. The 60,000-square-foot location, built on the roof of the historic Ideal Toy Company factory, was completed late in 2015 and opened in February 2016. The operation will grow more than 5 million heads of fresh leafy greens annually for the New York City market, and employs 50 people.

Combined, the two new facilities opened in the past year, including the 2-acre facility in Chicago and the Queens location, represent an almost 400% expansion of Gotham Greens’ business overall. The four locations total 170,000 square feet, and CEO Viraj Puri says Gotham Greens isn’t going to stop there — the business has plans to expand in New York, Chicago, and other cities.

Gotham Greens In Chicago
Gotham Greens’ operation in Chicago, which opened in November 2015, is currently the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world. All of Gotham Greens’ locations are powered by renewable energy, including a wind turbine and solar panels in Chicago.

Why Build On A Rooftop?

Constructing greenhouse structures on top of other buildings is about as challenging as you can imagine, Puri says. In addition to the regular struggles associated with building greenhouses, there are additional regulatory and permit challenges, design and architectural considerations to be made, and operational logistics that come into play.

Gotham Greens has used similar gutter-connected, A-frame, atrium-style structures and polycarbonate glazing with energy and shade curtains for all four locations.

“The greenhouses have some additional design considerations like custom sizing, increased wind load accommodation, and modified footers/column bases,” Puri says.

While the greenhouses were similar, building in Chicago was a bit different from building in New York, due to differing codes and regulatory environments. Plus, the winter there is long and windy with a lot of snow, he says.

Gotham Greens Queens Aerial View
Gotham Greens opened its fourth location, a 60,000-square-foot facility, in Queens in February 2016.

Inside Gotham Greens’ fully environmentally controlled greenhouses, the operation employs supplemental lighting with partial LED technology, as well as energy curtains, fans, and heaters. The business was originally started by Puri, an environmental engineer by trade, “to address some of the growing ecological problems with conventional agriculture, like heavy water use, pollution, carbon emissions, energy use, and a general lack of sustainability,” he says.

To that end, Gotham Greens emphasizes sustainable growing with its recirculating nutrient-film technique (NFT) hydroponics systems to conserve water use, minimize runoff, and protect soil resources. It’s powered entirely by renewable energy, including a wind turbine and solar panels on site at the Method factory in Chicago and solar panels at the Gowanus Whole Foods and Greenpoint locations in Brooklyn. In addition, Gotham Greens purchases renewable energy to meet the majority of the year-round demand, and because its crops are distributed ultra-locally, the carbon footprint from gas emissions is lessened significantly, Puri says.

“[Growing on rooftops] allows us to be in the heart of a city to be closer to consumers; it is an innovative and adaptive re-use of unused space; and it protects soil and water resources.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Structures...
Valtl-Raffeiner-with-Mayer-Potting-Machine

November 18, 2017

Mayer Celebrating 50th Anniversary of its Potting Machines

Today, the company’s line of automatic potting machines and other technology is being used by growers around the world.

Read More

November 15, 2017

Greenhouse Short Course in March 2018 Features Focus on Technology

The Greenhouse Crop Production & Engineering Design Short Course, which takes place at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC), includes three full days of educational sessions, one day of hands-on training workshops at CEAC, and a commercial Arizona greenhouse tour.

Read More
Adding-Heat-to-a-Greenhouse-GrowSpan

November 15, 2017

Tips on Adding Heat to Your Greenhouse for the Winter

Heating your greenhouse for the winter is important, and choosing efficient equipment and designs can help you quickly get returns on your heating investments.

Read More
Latest Stories
Adding-Heat-to-a-Greenhouse-GrowSpan

November 15, 2017

Tips on Adding Heat to Your Greenhouse for the Winter

Heating your greenhouse for the winter is important, and choosing efficient equipment and designs can help you quickly get returns on your heating investments.

Read More
Smart-Magenta-Greenhouse

November 14, 2017

Smart Solar Greenhouses Designed to Generate Energy and…

Research at the University of California Santa Cruz has shown that the first crops of tomatoes and cucumbers grown inside electricity-generating solar greenhouses are as healthy as those raised in conventional greenhouses.

Read More
BrightFarms Ohio

October 18, 2017

Leafy Greens Grower BrightFarms Building New 120,000 Sq…

The operation will provide locally grown salad greens and herbs to supermarkets in the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, OH, metropolitan areas.

Read More
Rough Brothers HopsHouse

October 18, 2017

New Greenhouse Aimed at Hydroponic Hops Producers

The new greenhouse model is the first single-solution hydroponic greenhouse for year-round hops growth, and harvests anywhere from two to five times a year.

Read More
GVZ Glasshouses

October 12, 2017

How to Deal With Common Greenhouse Maintenance Issues

The most common problems often come from a lack of cleanliness and faulty equipment. Here are a number of tips you can follow in each of these areas.

Read More
Youngs Greenhouse Space Growing Feature

August 14, 2017

How Young’s Plant Farm Invests in New Structures and Eq…

The Auburn, AL-based Top 100 Grower operation is improving its production infrastructure so it can continue to efficiently produce quality plants and keep up with demand.

Read More
CS3 Greenhouse (Stuppy)

June 4, 2017

7 Factors That Can Determine the Cost of Building a New…

Want to know the main factors that determine the cost of building a new greenhouse? Phil Bishop of Stuppy has put together an overview of the expenses involved in this type of project.

Read More
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

May 28, 2017

Growers Offer Advice on What to Know Before Your Next B…

Two Top 100 Growers discuss their most recent building projects, the challenges they addressed, and what they learned during the process.

Read More
GGS Cannabis Production

April 19, 2017

Suppliers Can Offer Technical Solutions for New Cannabi…

Here’s a look at how a few manufacturers have partnered with growers to make their transition into cannabis a smooth one, whether it’s through hands-on guidance or partnering with other industry leaders.

Read More
GrowSpan Series 1000 Greenhouse (GrowSpan) feature

March 24, 2017

New Greenhouse Structure Models Emphasize Crop Protecti…

Manufacturers of new structure models say they are responding to grower concerns with designs that focus on ventilation, maximizing your space, and incorporating a wide range of crops. Here’s a look at some of their latest offerings.

Read More
Brian Munchel

March 18, 2017

Brian Munchel of Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing Dies at …

Munchel, a long-time member of the National Greenhouse Manufacturing Association, worked at Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing for more than 30 years and was a computer-aided draftsman.

Read More
Nexus Atrium for Prides Corner

March 15, 2017

How Tech Suppliers Are Helping Growers Find Solutions

Greenhouse structures and components manufacturers highlight some of their most recent projects.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Growers Planning to Invest in Structures in 2017

Data from this year’s Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry survey indicates that growers are planning to make major investments in structures and facility upgrades this year.

Read More
NVAC Greenhouse prototype

February 15, 2017

New Greenhouse Cooling System in Development for Hot-Cl…

Researchers at McGill University in Quebec have developed an alternative evaporative cooling solution for greenhouses in warm climates, and are now seeking commercial partners.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Registration Open for NGMA Spring Meeting

The annual gathering of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association will feature a look at green industry trends, emerging market opportunities, and more.

Read More
EFTE Film

January 18, 2017

Looking at Glass or Polyethylene for Your New Structure…

Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, also known as EFTE, is a fluorine-based material that looks like a standard polyethylene greenhouse film but offers high light transmittance.

Read More
Nadia Sabeh, CEAC

January 18, 2017

Upcoming Seminars to Focus on Managing the Greenhouse E…

The seminars, which will also be accessible online, are presented by the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

Read More

November 16, 2016

Stay Up To Date On Greenhouse Structures And Materials

eGro, an online resource for greenhouse growers, features a series of video lectures and tutorials on a wide variety of topics, including greenhouse structures and terminology, heating and cooling, and more.

Read More