Vertical Farming: Who’s leading hospitality’s charge towards sustainability?

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With well over 50,000 hotel properties in the US alone, it’s exciting to consider the potential that vertical farming holds for brands and franchisees in terms of environmental impact and sustainability. While the seed of inspiration has been planted, there’s a lot of room to grow.

Just last year, the runner-up for the Radical Innovation Award was the Aquaponic Hotel Experience. Inspired by aquaponic systems, Varinot & Varinot Architects ideated and designed a fully self-sufficient hotel that could continually recycle rainwater to supply water to aquariums that would be cleaned by aquatic plants which would be fed by fish waste. This not only creates a unique, living environment, but it helps to keep air clean, while also supplying resources for the hotel’s kitchen. But this concept isn’t just some pipedream from visionary architects, it’s a reality.

The hotels that have enacted their own vertical farming systems have found a solution to the constant supply chain demand for their restaurants. By going beyond farm to table and partnering with local growers, these hotels have created an experience that can be defined as farm AND table, with both indoor farms and restaurants under the same roof.

Indoor farming can not only save hotels thousands in supply costs, but indoor growing techniques are often more efficient and organic than traditional farming. As with many sustainability initiatives, indoor farming represents green in two ways 1) it’s environmentally friendly 2) it saves hotels tons of money.

Utilizing technology to simplify the growing process

We’re now living in a present where you don’t need 40 acres and mule to produce quality organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. Rather, through innovative agricultural technology and design, hotels can set up unique indoor farming habitats to make (and even distribute) fresh produce. With a vertical farming approach, hotels and can efficiently grow plants in spaces that are underutilized within their large properties. Vertical farms can be fueled by natural light in a greenhouse structure or by skylight, or through the use of LED bulbs that can simulate natural sunlight. Growers can water their vertical farms efficiently due to their tiered and compact designs. Hotels can even go a step further by collecting and utilizing rainwater.

Specific systems can be implemented to make the growing process as easy as pushing a button. Systems like Growtronix, can give inexperienced growers at hotel chains the insights necessary to track the progress of their crops and monitor the overall status of the grow room.

Some of the leaders in the hospitality industry have taken this technology and run with it to create sustainable hotels.

Ritz-Carlton, Naples

One of the earliest adopters of vertical farming was the Ritz-Carlton in Naples. Utilizing a 44-foot trailer placed strategically on an unused space on their property, they were able to create a “grow house” that was safe from the elements and easy to monitor. They utilize the Growtronix system and it makes the entire process simple. They produce 30,000 heads of lettuce each year while using 10 kilowatts and 8 gallons of water each day.

Orlando World Center Marriott

HyCube partnered with the largest Marriott in the world to create a 2,000 square foot, a multi-story modular garden which works to provide the hotel with 100,000 heads of lettuce and 13,000 pounds of greens and herbs yearly. The system uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods and instead of soil to fuel the plants, it uses a nutrient-rich liquid solution. Just like the other indoor farming environments, it allows the hotel to grow these crops in a controlled and weather-proof environment.

QO Amsterdam

The QO Amsterdam identifies itself as a living structure. Born from the need to end the wasteful practices of one-use hotel processes. There green house is a self-regulating, self-sufficient and fully functional ecosystem.

Making infrastructure changes can help to maximize your property’s efficiencies and increase your margins. Top tier sustainable practices impact every aspect of operations from the kitchen to the back office. Why invest thousands in infostructure costs to improve your ecological footprint if you’re still printing off tens of thousands of papers each year in pay stubs, invoices, reports, etc.? If you’re looking to improve operational efficiency and sustainability, consider the digital administrative solutions you can solve through myDigitalOffice. Review our products here.

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