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Research Article // Prospects for Rooftop Farming System Dynamics: An Action to Stimulate Water-Energy-Food Nexus Synergies toward Green Cities of Tomorrow

By Angela Huang and Fi-John Chang. This study contributes to urban planning by exploring in-depth the practicability and worthiness of urban rooftop farming, as well as suggesting promoting urban rooftop farming extensively to receive a favorable ratio of food self-sufficiency, especially for fresh produce, through a sustainable in situ WEF Nexus mechanism at a city scale. Such vegetable production not only could mitigate seasonal food shortages, especially after catastrophic droughts or typhoons, but could also provide local communities and neighborhoods with periodical and stable provisions of fresh produce on a regular basis.

Wef rooftop farming

Figure 2. The WEF Nexus upon a rooftop farming operation mechanism.


Rooftop farming is a practical solution of smart urban agriculture to furnish diverse socio-environmental benefits and short food supply chains, especially in densely populated cities. This study aims to raise urban food security with less use of public water and energy in food production, through utilizing green water and energy for sustainable management. A system dynamics (SD) model framed across the nexus of climate, water, energy and food (WEF) sectors is developed for a rooftop farm in Taipei City of Taiwan. The urban WEF Nexus is structured to address how local weather affects water and energy utilization to grow vegetables. The SD results showed that the annual yields of sweet potato leaves achieved 9.3 kg/m2, at the cost of 3.8 ton/m2 of harvested rainwater and 2.1 ton/m2 of tap water together with 2.1 kwh/m2 of solar photovoltaic power and 0.4 kwh/m2 of public electricity. This study not only demonstrates that green resources show great potential to make a significant reduction in consuming urban irrigation resources for rooftop farming, but contributes to urban planning through a sustainable in situ WEF Nexus mechanism at a city scale. The WEF Nexus can manifest the rooftop farming promotion as cogent development to facilitate urban sustainability.


August 2021




Huang, A., & Chang, F. J. (2021). Prospects for rooftop farming system dynamics: An action to stimulate water-energy-food nexus synergies toward green cities of tomorrow. Sustainability, 13(16), 9042.


Download the full research article here.

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