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Belvo wins $100,000 prize for eco-farm on college roof

Belvedere College SJ has just won the Global High School category of the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Prize in Abu Dhabi – the first Irish school to win the award. Their project to create an ‘off-grid’ urban farm in Dublin city centre will receive $100,000 in funding to allow for the expansion of their current urban farm project on the roof-top space in Belvedere College. Students Barry Heneghan (see photo) and Lorcan O’Kelly travelled to Abu Dhabi with urban farm co-ordinator Simon O’Donnell to enter their eco-farm project for the competition.

Students had constructed a 6 kWp solar photovoltaic system along with rainwater harvesting systems to irrigate the farm on the roof. Their plan for the development of the farm project includes maximising sustainability by only using water and energy that can be harvested on-site.

In a bold plan for recycling, the nutrient requirements of the farm will be provided by a closed loop aquaponics system. This means that the effluent waste from fish tanks will be pumped on to beds housing crops such as salads, tomatoes and strawberries. In order to minimise inputs, students will experiment with growing phytoplankton and zooplankton to feed the tilapia fish that can also be harvested as a food source.

The Zayed Future Energy is an annual award celebrating achievements that reflect impact, innovation, long-term vision and leadership in renewable energy and sustainability. There are five award categories – Lifetime Achievement, Large Corporation, Small and Medium Enterprise, Non-Profit Organisation and Global High Schools. Currently in its ninth year, previous winners include individuals such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and companies such as Panasonic and Siemens.