EU project:

LUX: How a greenhouse on the roof of a building in Bettembourg works

The EU Commissioner for Cohesion Policy, Elisa Ferreira, visited the Groof pilot project in Bettembourg together with Luxembourg's Energy Minister Claude Turmes and the Minister for the Greater Region, Corinne Cahen.

The pilot project 'Groof' in the industrial zone in Bettembourg, which is co-financed by the EU, serves both climate and environmental protection, is of economic interest in many respects, and also serves social purposes. The EU Commissioner for Cohesion Policy, Elisa Ferreira, was among those who were able to see this for themselves.

Not all the troughs in the greenhouse above the restaurant of the 'Institut de formation sectoriel du bâtiment' (IFSB) in the Wolser industrial zone in Bettemburg are filled with plants. The lettuces are still in the early stages, but the tomato plants are already well established. On them, helpers from the 'Centre du tricentenaire,' an institution for people with a handicap, are removing superfluous shoots. The workers of this atelier of the 'Tricentenaire' are the social component of the pilot project 'Fresh,' which is implemented on the roof of the IFSB restaurant.

The aim of the project is to find out under what conditions it is possible to operate a greenhouse on the roofs of large buildings. Hence the name 'Groof: Greenhouses to reduce CO2 on roofs.' For this purpose, so-called hydroponics is used. In this process, the plants are not stuck in the ground but only with their roots in water. This water contains the nutrients needed for the plants to grow. In this case, the water is fed from a central tank via pipes into the troughs, where the plants are, in turn, placed. This type of horticulture has several advantages, as project manager Marcel Deravet explains. Above all, the low weight is decisive here: the installation would weigh only 40 kg/m2, which is of great importance for its installation on building or hall roofs. In addition, the fertilizer supply in the water - which partly consists of collected rainwater - can be dosed much more precisely than in conventional horticulture. 'Ecologically interesting' is also the fact that no pesticides are needed, Marcel Deravet continues, as there are hardly any insects in the closed greenhouse.

The greenhouse is heated by ventilation using heat from the building. In addition, the roof of a building would give off up to 30 percent heat on average, according to a report by the European Regional Development Fund's 'Interreg North-West Europe.' According to the report, moreover, even the CO2 from people and activities in the building is used to grow plants in the greenhouse.

Throughout the year, various vegetables are planted in the greenhouse: In addition to lettuces and tomatoes, eggplants, beans, carrots, and even melons. The ripe vegetables are used one floor below directly in the restaurant. This is also part of the concept. By using roof space, vegetables could be planted close to consumers in large cities and urban areas. In addition to creating new jobs, this could save transportation costs and CO2 emissions.

'Innovative stimulation'
"For us, the innovation aspect is important," said EU Commissioner Elisa Ferreira. While in other EU countries, money from the Cohesion Fund is mainly used for infrastructure projects, wealthier countries such as Luxembourg, but also France, Germany, and Belgium, which also participate in Groof, should provide technical solutions to existing problems, 'innovative stimulation,' with small financial subsidies from the EU. The project shows what business models are possible with greenhouses on a building roof, said Luxembourg's Energy Minister Claude Turmes, who also took part in the tour, as did his ministerial colleague Corinne Cahen. For the minister responsible for the Greater Region, the project is an asset at all levels, combining environmental, economic, and social benefits.

About 20 projects would accompany them in the region, said the project manager of the IFSB, Romain Guillaume. This involves, among other things, the provision of information but also training for the construction of greenhouses on a roof or the technique of hydroponics, which is still little used.

Source: Tageblatt Luxembourg

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