The Plant Chicago is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop circular economies of food production, energy conservation and material re-use, while encouraging individuals to make their cities healthier and more efficient. To further support this effort, Plant Chicago purchased a 93,500 sq. ft. former meat packing facility in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood to repurpose into a net zero energy vertical farm and business incubator known as 'The Plant'. The Plant is home to several different farm businesses and start-ups that make up the business incubator, while offering educational programming and tours to demonstrate the sustainable ways in which food production in an urban environment can happen. Through methodical deconstruction and preservation, The Plant re-used about 80% of the existing structure.
The Plant’s heating, cooling, and electrical needs are provided by an on-site Combine Heat-Power Plant (CHP) fed with methane gas from an anaerobic digester. The digester consumes food waste from the facility and neighboring food manufacturers to satisfy the building’s energy needs. dbHMS designed all of the MEP connections to the digester and the CHP. This included power, domestic water, waste, chilled water, and hot water. Additionally, dbHMS designed the electrical distribution and interface with the CHP, assisted the client in evaluating the reuse of the existing ammonia evaporators for chilled water cooling and performed load calculations to determine the heating and cooling requirements for the building.