US: Illinois Energy Conservation Authority closes $2.4 million financing for a vertical farm facility

The Cook County PACE Program, administered by The Illinois Energy Conservation Authority NFP, an Illinois nonprofit organization, announced today it closed $2,470,000 in financing for the first Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy project in Calumet City, Illinois. The C-PACE capital will help fund the conversion of a 135,000-square-foot former Target retail store into Wilder Fields, a commercial-scale indoor vertical farm that will focus exclusively on the growth and sale of pesticide-free leafy greens.

Located at 1717 East-West Road in Calumet City, the first phase of the conversion project will comprise 80,000 square feet of office space, a climate-controlled area and a cold chain processing/growing area, with a completion date scoped for March 2022. At full capacity, the AI-driven operation will include 22 cleanrooms for the annual growth and harvesting of up to 25 million plants. C-PACE funds will finance several energy-efficient measures at Wilder Fields, including LED grow lighting, HVAC and climate controls. These measures are estimated to save Wilder Fields over $8.3 million and 59,371,067 kWh of energy during the expected life of the measures financed.

“I’m thrilled that Wilder Fields has utilized this program to transform a vacant big box store into a sustainable vertical farm serving the local community, grocers, and restaurateurs with high quality produce,” stated Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This program is not only cost-efficient; it is also exemplary of the opportunities and assets embedded in the South Suburbs. I encourage more property owners throughout Cook County to take advantage of the C-PACE Program to adapt more sustainable operations and practices.

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