Circular City + Living Systems Lab

December 20, 2019

Rooftop greenhouses from idea to reality: technical, operational and legal considerations

Forthcoming book chapter in Urban Agriculture and Regional Food Systems, Springer


Space is a valuable commodity in cities. Competing with traditional land uses, urban farms have been resourceful in finding vacant sites. Existing rooftops have been widely identified as underutilized sun-exposed urban resources, though few have been used to cultivate vegetation, and fewer still have been used to host productive rooftop greenhouses. By analyzing two of the most successful commercial rooftop greenhouse operations in the world, this chapter identifies the most significant challenges and opportunities for this innovative, high-tech farming technique. It analyzes operational, technical, and legal difficulties for constructing greenhouses on roofs, reviews financial models for raising investment capital, and documents social benefits that constitute an additional value. Documenting the wealth of information that has been developed about the RTG concept in the last decade, this chapter discusses the current status of the idea and possible pathways for its development.


“Rooftop greenhouses from idea to reality: technical, operational and legal considerations.” 2020. In Urban agriculture and regional food systems: A global handbook on science, engineering, social, economic, business and environmental aspects of the urban food revolution, edited by Peter Droege, Cham: Springer International Publishing. (forthcoming)