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Asian Development Bank

50 climate solutions from cities in the People's Republic of China


Beijing is home to the first vertical farm in the PRC, growing mushrooms and vegetables year-round in a space- and energy-efficient way, protected from the impacts of climate change.

As the PRC’s population grows and arable land is diminished and polluted, there is growing pressure to meet the food demand of the future generation that increasingly lives in cities. Beijing Nongzhong is offering a vision of the future with its new vertical farm, the first of its kind on the PRC. The three-story factory can produce mushrooms, vegetables, and medicinal plants year-round in a fully controlled, optimal-growth environment. The result is food produced more rapidly and e¡ciently, protected from droughts and floods.


The facility uses a smart air circulation system to cycle CO2 produced by fungi on the lower levels to the upper levels, where it increases the photosynthesis rates of vegetables. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. Growing food in artificial environments can be expensive, with lighting accounting for up to 80% of operating costs. At the Beijing Nongzhong factory however, the use of LED technology has resulted in an energy saving of 62.5%, saving CNY142 million and 1,680 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions annually.

Vertical planting
Growing food in a highly efficient manner use only a fraction of water and energy compared with conventional agriculture (photo by Hongmin Dong).

The Challenge

Rising demand for food in PRC cities has brought with it a great deal of environmental degradation and a growing reliance on imports. In addition, climate change is revealing the vulnerability of supplies to extreme weather events. Growing food at an e¡cient and predictable rate, vertical farming hopes to provide a solution to these issues.


Economic  To grow plants in artificial conditions requires a lot of light, but through the use of LED lighting in the premises, operating costs are reduced by CNY142 million annually.

Environment  Vertical farming reduces fertilizer and pesticide use, as well as soil erosion, high water use, and biodiversity loss.

Social As well as providing employment opportunities in the local area, the factory has been visited by students and policy makers from across the PRC, serving as a learning platform for future projects.