event 05 May 2022

Research Article // GIS-based assessment for the potential of implementation of food-energy-water systems on building rooftops at the urban level

By A.L. Montealegre, S. García-Pérez, S. Guillén-Lambea, M. Monzón-Chavarrías, and J. Sierra-Pérez. This study presents a methodology for Food-Energy-Water (FEW) potential assessment through the evaluation of the roof surface available for growing tomatoes, for roof-top integrated photovoltaic systems, and for collecting rainwater.

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This research develops a bottom-up procedure to assess the potential of food-energy-water (FEW) systems on the rooftops of buildings in an urban district in Spain considering the urban morphology of the built environment and obtains accurate assessments of production and developmental patterns. A multicriteria decision-making technique implemented in a geographical information system (GIS) environment was used to extract suitable rooftop areas. To implement this method, the slope (tilt), aspect (azimuth), shading, and solar radiation of the rooftops were calculated using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data and building footprints. The potential of FEW system implementation was analysed at the building and morphology levels. The results showed several differences between residential and non-residential urban morphologies. Industrial areas contained the highest productivity for FEW systems. The production was 2.51 kg of tomatoes/m2, 48 kWh of photovoltaic energy/m2, and 0.16 l of rainwater/m2. Regarding the residential urban morphologies, the more compact tents resulted in better performance. Among the FEW systems, although water could best benefit from the features of the entire roof surface, the best production results were achieved by energy. The food system is less efficient in the built environment since it requires flat roofs. The methodology presented can be applied in any city, and it is considered optimal in the European context for the development of self-production strategies for urban environments.


January 2022


Science of The Total Environment


Montealegre, A. L., García-Pérez, S., Guillén-Lambea, S., Monzón-Chavarrías, M., & Sierra-Pérez, J. (2022). GIS-based assessment for the potential of implementation of food-energy-water systems on building rooftops at the urban level. Science of The Total Environment, 803, 149963.


Download the full research article here.

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