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RII and ACEEE Awarded USDA Grant to Transform Controlled Environment Agriculture Toward Resource Conservation and Efficiency

By November 9, 2020November 16th, 2020No Comments

Washington, D.C. (November 9, 2020)–Resource Innovation Institute (RII) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) will receive nearly $600,000 over three years from the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The project was one of 24 projects selected for the 2020 program. RII and ACEEE will jointly implement the project through 2023.

Authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, the CIG program helps develop the tools, technologies and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands and develop market-based solutions to resource challenges. The awarded proposal, titled Data-Driven Market Transformation for Controlled Environment Agriculture, will characterize key performance indicators, baseline data, and facility-level benchmarking for controlled environmental agriculture facilities. The project will develop a comprehensive suite of data tools, coupled with a market intervention strategy to address barriers to energy conservation, adoption of energy-efficient technologies, access to energy use data, and best practices.

“We’ve been assessing energy and water use in the energy-intensive indoor cultivation sector for years and have built a set of vetted tools and resources that will now be extended to the broader controlled environment agriculture marketplace,” said Derek Smith, Executive Director of Resource Innovation Institute. “We appreciate the support of the USDA as well as leading producers, supply chain actors, universities, utilities, governments, standards organizations and other project partners.”

“Market transformation is a proven strategy for creating and sustaining energy efficiency improvements in energy-intensive market sectors,” said Jennifer Amann, ACEEE’s Buildings Program Director. “With USDA’s support, we’ll engage leading CEA market actors, utilities, and policymakers to demonstrate market transformation’s potential to drive resource efficiency in the fast-growing and innovative CEA market.”

“Agricultural innovation has long played a key role in Oregon’s rural economy, and has made countless contributions to our state for generations,” said Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the USDA. “I’m pleased that this funding will help Oregonians keep us at the cutting edge of the newest technology in sustainable agriculture, and I will continue to partner with our state’s researchers and farmers to make sure Oregon agriculture continues to thrive.”

“The world’s population is increasing, but available agricultural land is decreasing. Through science and innovation, we can help farmers improve the health of their operations and productivity on their lands while protecting the natural resources we all depend on,” said Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting Chief Kevin Norton. “The new systems, tools, and technologies being developed through CIG are helping us ensure the longevity of American agriculture.”

Additional support includes:

Fifth Season
“As an industry-leading indoor vertical farming company with two farms and over 126,000 sq. ft. of growing space which can produce over 500,000 lbs. of fresh food each year, Fifth Season is committed to this exciting project,” said Grant Vandenbussche, Chief Category Officer, Fifth Season. “We will benchmark the resource efficiency performance of our facilities, evaluate potential efficiency upgrades and be featured in case studies demonstrating the financial and environmental results of our projects.”

Fluence by OSRAM
Fluence is a leading global provider of energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial agriculture production. Fluence regularly contributes to RII’s cultivation guidance and serves as an industry-leading voice for RII on efficient energy consumption for LED lighting in CEA facilities. “We are increasingly observing global growers commit to more energy-efficient cultivation solutions at their facilities,” said Corinne Wilder, Vice President of Global Business Operations for Fluence. “This grant underscores the important work RII has already done for growers and we will enthusiastically recruit cultivators to engage with this project to not only help improve the efficiency of their own operations but those of the entire CEA industry.”

“For more than 50 years, Grodan has developed Precision Growing methods proven to reduce water and nutrient use while maximizing crop quality and yield. Vertical farms and greenhouses are critical to the future of global food and medicine production as well as minimizing resource usage with technologies such as recirculation,” said Gonneke Gerkema, North American Business Director, Grodan. “This project collaboration brings together several key companies who share the same vision of industry benchmarking combined with Data-Driven decision making to generate water-use efficiencies that will benefit the cultivators, the industry and indeed the environment.”

Northwest Power & Conservation Council
“Indoor agriculture is a significant part of the driving force behind forecast growing electric loads in agriculture,” said Ben Kujala, Director of Power Planning, Northwest Power & Conservation Council. “The Council supports looking for opportunities for cost-effective energy efficiency and demand management within the growing indoor agriculture sector as part of its power planning and conservation responsibilities. As project advisor, Council staff commit to engage and educate stakeholders.” For more information, go to To schedule an interview with an RII representative, please contact Shawna Seldon McGregor at or 917-971-7852.

About Resource Innovation Institute: Advancing Resource Efficiency to Cultivate a Better Agricultural Future
Resource Innovation Institute (RII) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance resource efficiency to cultivate a better agricultural future. Founded in 2016 to address the resource impacts of indoor cultivation, RII is extending its services to a broader array of energy-intensive horticultural sectors. Its PowerScore resource benchmarking platform represents the world’s largest dataset on indoor agriculture energy use. RII’s Technical Advisory Council is the leading multi-disciplinary body assessing the environmental impacts and best practices associated with cultivation resource issues. RII’s Board of Directors includes the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and a former board member of the US Green Building Council. RII is funded by governments, utilities, foundations and industry leaders. Visit our website at Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.