BIG NEWS, FRIENDS! (It’s all-caps worthy, we promise.) From our press release:
John Edel, Director of Chicago’s innovative vertical farm and food business incubator, The Plant, has been awarded a total of $1.5 million in grant funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). DCEO awarded two grants to support a comprehensive renewable energy system that will accept up to 12,000 tons of food scraps annually. Most of that material will be spent grain from an onsite craft brewery and from other breweries around Chicago – material that is currently sent to landfills.
“These grants will help us create 125 new, green-collar jobs in an economically distressed community – and test a new economic model that relies on recapturing lost resources to improve food production. Further, we’ll save over 3,000 tons per year in carbon dioxide output by using a completely renewable energy source. This project would not be possible without DCEO support and the State’s commitment to a new, green economy,” Edel said.
By installing an anaerobic digester and combined heat and power system, The Plant will create about 380 kilowatts of electricity and 2.1 million BTU of heat – enough to meet the full energy needs of the 93,500 square-foot facility. The digester will allow The Plant to become independent of the grid and produce power and heat at between one-quarter and one-third of current utility costs to its tenants. In addition to the craft brewery, The Plant has plans for a bakery and aquaponics growing systems.
“This really could become a regional model for sustainability as well as a route to building out this part of the economy,” said Warren Ribley, Director of DCEO. “People are seeking more local foods and the State is requiring at least 20% of its food purchases come from local sources by 2020. Agriculture is still innovating and will continue to be a source of new jobs if we can help local farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs ramp up to meet the demand.”
The total project costs are approximately $3 million and will be completed by June 2013. About 45% of the grant funds are from DCEO’s Large Customer Energy Efficiency grant that was supported with funds from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The rest of the grant funds were awarded through DCEO’s Food Scrap Composting Revitalization and Advancement Program (F-SCRAP). Edel’s company, Bubbly Dynamics, LLC, will be providing matching funds and expects to qualify for about $700,000 in tax credits authorized under ARRA.
Samuel Evans, co-owner of the New Chicago Brewing Company, said, “We are incredibly pleased to be part of the ecosystem at The Plant. We would not be able to launch a green brewery without the anaerobic digester and the State of Illinois’ assistance.”
“John Edel’s vision and dedication, as well as this great show of State support, has made it possible for new businesses like ours to exist and grow. This is a great milestone for The Plant, and we’re excited to be along for the ride,” said Mario Spatafora of 312 Aquaponics, a tenant in the building.
We welcome coverage of this award; feel free to email us to set up interviews with John Edel or any of the tenants in the building.
P.S. We know those of you at the Open House in August are aware of this, but for a number of reasons it took a bit of time to be able to put this release together. Thanks for listening again!