Thank you to Jill Kozeluh for contributing this post.
On Saturday, March 3rd, Liautaud MBA students and UIC Net Impact members toured Plant Chicago, a local non-profit committed to “promoting sustainable food production, entrepreneurship and building reuse through education, research and development.” UIC alum John Edel, owner of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, transformed this 93,500 square foot retired meatpacking facility into a net-zero energy vertical farm, part food-business incubator, and educational center on sustainable business practices. The Plant currently leases space to several local businesses, including a bakery, a beer brewery, and a fermented tea brewery.
During the tour students learned more about aquaponics, a sustainable food production system where fish and plants grow together in a closed water loop system. Students surveyed the several barrels of tilapia fish and rows of plants involved in this re-circulating system. The fish and vegetables will be sold to local restaurants and farmer markets for a profit.
Tour leader explaining the building transformation process.
Students also learned how waste from each business will be used as food for another business at the Plant. For example, waste generated by the New Chicago Beer Co. will be directed back into the system to feed the tilapia fish while waste generated by the tilapia will be fed to the mushrooms. These businesses work together to improve the environment while also creating new, green jobs in Chicago.
Keeping the plants warm to grow.
This great looking, eco-friendly arugula could end up on your dinner plate!!
Plant Chicago provided MBA students with another positive example of how it is possible to use business to create a more environmentally sustainable world.
UIC Liautaud Graduate School of Business
Master of Business Administration