Integrated sustainability assessment of social and technological innovations towards urban food systems

Case study: ICTA Rooftop greenhouse – Barcelona, Spain

Location: Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain

Typology: Rooftop greenhouse

Urban area: Inner city – Rooftop

Innovation type: Technological innovation

Main functions: Experimental research – Education and training – Resource-efficient food production

Users: Researchers – Companies – Students

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In 2014, the research-oriented i-RTG was constructed on the top of the building that hosts the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) and Catalan Institute of Palaeontology (ICP). The purpose of the RTG-Lab is to demonstrate the feasibility of RTGs in Mediterranean areas and the potentialities of i-RTGs. The i-RTG will utilise residual heat from the building (e.g. lab air), CO2 concentrations in this residual air (i.e. which will be used as natural fertiliser) and rainwater collected from the rooftop.



Crops: Tomato, Lettuce, Green Beans

Techniques: Integrated rooftop greenhouse

Irrigation: Automatic fertirrigation – Rainwater

Use of renewable resources: Use of rainwater – Use of CO2-rich air

Sustainable practices: Production km.0 – Resource efficient design




  • Pons, O., Nadal, A., Sanyé-Mengual, E., Llorach-Massana, P., Cuerva, E., Sanjuan-Delmàs, D., Muñoz, P., Oliver-Solà, J., Planas, C., Rovira, M.R., 2015. Roofs of the Future: Rooftop Greenhouses to Improve Buildings Metabolism, in: Procedia Engineering. doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2015.10.084
  • Sanyé-Mengual, E., Llorach-Massana, P., Sanjuan-Delmás, D., Oliver-Solà, J., Josa, A., Montero, J.I., Rieradevall, J., 2014. The ICTA-ICP Rooftop Greenhouse Lab (RTG-Lab): closing metabolic flows (energy, water, CO2) through integrated Rooftop Greenhouses, in: Roggema, R., Keefer, G. (Eds.), “Finding Spaces for Productive spaces” 6th AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference. VHL University of Applied Sciences, Velp, pp. 692–701.
  • Sanyé-Mengual, E., Martinez-Blanco, J., Finkbeiner, M., Cerdà, M., Camargo, M., Ometto, A.R., Velásquez, L.S., Villada, G., Niza, S., Pina, A., Ferreira, G., Oliver-Solà, J., Montero, J.I., Rieradevall, J., 2016. Urban horticulture in retail parks: Environmental assessment of the potential implementation of rooftop greenhouses in European and South American cities. J. Clean. Prod. 172. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.11.103
  • Sanyé-Mengual, E., Oliver-Solà, J., Montero, J.I., Rieradevall, J., 2015. An environmental and economic life cycle assessment of Rooftop Greenhouse (RTG) implementation in Barcelona, Spain. Assessing new forms of urban agriculture from the greenhouse structure to the final product level. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 20, 350–366. doi:10.1007/s11367-014-0836-9


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