Aquaculture North America

​Self-sustaining ecosystem project reduces carbon footprint

August 28, 2015
By Erich Luening

A redevelopment project in the US State of Ohio to transform an eight acre brownfield into a commercial sustainable farm will also recycle heat from an underground data center to warm an onsite recirculation aquaculture facility.

            The Northcoast Fish Farm, LLC will be the first phase of the project, a $4.5 million facility that when operating, will produce 500,000 pounds annually of Branzino, or Mediterranean sea bass.

            Production of 10,000 pounds per week is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2016 with the goal of full production capacity by the end of the same year.

            The Foundry Project, launched by environmental attorney, consultant and geothermal expert, J. Duncan Shorey, also includes building a 20,000 – 40,000 square foot underground bunkered data center. The data center will take advantage of the three 100-gigabit per second fiber networks located in the adjacent rail lines. The data center waste heat will be reused to provide heat for the fish farm, reducing the carbon footprint for both the farm and the center.


            Branzino grown at the farm will be sold either locally to wholesalers, or to live-fish brokers who serve specialty markets. Letters of intent have been struck with both US and Canadian live fish brokers to distribute the farm’s production in their regions.

            “Northcoast Fish Farm will fill a major void in northeast Ohio for sourcing quality fish,” says Chef Douglas Katz, chef/owner of Fire Food and Drink, chef partner at Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art and international advocate of sustainable food systems. “I am committed to using local, sustainably-produced foods at our restaurants. That the fish production is so close to our restaurants will assure the fish we receive is extremely fresh.”

            The design of the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) is the brainchild of Steve Van Gorder, an internationally renowned expert and 37-year veteran of advanced aquaculture systems. He will oversee the initial operation of Northcoast.

            “The RAS is calibrated to grow fish in a low-stress environment that promotes rapid growth rates and minimizes fish feed costs and the net carbon footprint,” says Van Gorder, RAS Architect and President of Fresh Culture Systems.

            As part of the symbiotic, self-sustaining ecosystem, all fish waste will be used by Northcoast Orchards, which will use the nutrient-rich material as fertilizer either in the greenhouses or local orchards, depending on the season.

            In addition to the fish farm, orchards and a data center, The Foundry Project will include a sheep farm, live fish brokerage, farmer’s market, a cooking school whose focus is teaching local families how to cook in a healthier manner, and both an arts and tech incubator, where each component complements and benefits others. The project will have a campus-like feel where 24/7 security will be a top priority.

Erich Luening

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