Bronx Food Hub – a zero-waste/zero-energy/zero-carbon Food Distribution center

GrowNYC contracted ORE to develop schemes to make their Bronx based farm food distribution hub a net-zero facility in order to offset the carbon from their fleet of food distribution trucks.

The resulting study became a white paper on how to maximize sustainability through “Integrative” or “Whole Building” design.  Below are excerpts from this white paper.

We began by looking at potential inputs and outputs through the lens of existing site conditions:


We studied ways of capturing atmospheric carbon, minimizing municipal water usage, creating pollinator habitats, using photovoltaics to generate power on-site, employing the most efficient warehouse operational systems (lighting, heating, cooling), and designing a façade that will reflect the special nature of GrowNYC’s Foodhub program and the building that houses it.



The framework for evaluating the building systems contained in this report is a balance between three areas: goals expressed by GrowNYC, applicability based on site conditions, and ultimately if the system is using an existing technology that has been applied in existing, analogous projects.

After preliminary reviews with the GrowNYC team, ORE narrowed in on a couple key areas: Onsite power generation using an off-the shelf biodigester, augmented (for maximum power output) by an off-the-shelf algae lobby feature and a supplemental powersource from solar panels integrated into a vegetated roof.

Off-the-shelf algae bioreactors.

ORE identified sustainable technologies currently on the market that can provide a sense of applicability, life-cycle cost and return on investment.


Algae bioreactors integrated into the building facade to absorb CO2 and generate biomass to fuel building.

As the food waste from improved food distribution practices approaches zero, Algae becomes the primary power source for the entire facility.



Algae from bioreactors is digested into biogas and converted to heat and power in onsite microturbine.


Off-the-shelf bio-digester system.

We created a study of  existing technologies’ cost benefit onsite Bio-digester as the main source of the GrowNYC facility’s power:





We illustrated the added value of expanding space between building skin + rainscreen to create employee/visitor amenity spaces while increasing building’s performance:

And expanding space between building skin + rainscreen to house/display performative infrastructure (algae bioreactors): 

Our resulting design integrates the building’s energy system as its main architectural feature: 



Client: GrowNYC
Location: Hunts Point, Bronx, New York
Program: Non-Profit Farm to Community Food Distribution Hub
Area: 75,000 sf
Status: Under construction