MRO Magazine

The Foundry Project is the First, Self-Sustaining, Symbiotic Agricultural Ecosystem to Harvest Heat Emitted from Underground Data Center

May 20, 2015
By Business Wire News


Environmental attorney, consultant and geothermal expert, J. Duncan Shorey, today announced the formation of The Foundry Project, a redevelopment of an 8-acre brownfield that will be transformed into a sustainable commercial farm. It will be the first agricultural ecosystem to recycle waste heat from an underground data center and reuse the heat for the on-site aquaculture facility, the Northcoast Fish Farm, LLC. The first initiative will be the aquaculture facility, a for-profit $4.5mm fish farm that will produce 500,000 pounds a year of Branzino, or Mediterranean Sea bass. Production of 10,000 pounds per week is slated to begin in Q2 of 2016, with the goal of full production in time for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The farm’s annual harvest will equate to 5% of the total US imports of sea bass.

Another element of The Foundry Project plan includes constructing a 20,000 – 40,000 square foot underground bunkered data center. Once a customer is identified, it will take approximately six months to complete construction. The data center will take advantage of the three 100-gigabit per second fiber networks located in the adjacent rail lines, allowing the customer to have access to the one of the world’s fastest Internet connections. This will be the first data center in the world where waste heat is reused to provide heat for an aquaculture farm and represents a breakthrough for reducing the carbon footprint of a data center.

Branzino grown at the farm will be sold either locally to wholesalers, or to live-fish brokers who serve specialty markets. Letters of intent have been struck with both US and Canadian live fish brokers to distribute the farm’s production in their regions.

“Northcoast Fish Farm will fill a major void in Northeast Ohio for sourcing quality fish,” says Chef Douglas Katz, Chef/Owner of fire food and drink, Chef Partner at Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art and international advocate of sustainable food systems. “I am committed to using local, sustainably-produced foods at our restaurants. That the fish production is so close to our restaurants will assure the fish we receive is extremely fresh.”

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch®, a nonprofit organization that makes recommendations to help consumers choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment, recently awarded RAS-harvested Branzino as a “Best Choice” standard, the highest rating given by Seafood Watch based on their criteria for aquaculture.

“It is part of our dream at Ohio State to have high-quality sustainable fish available on a regular basis,” says Laura Tiu, PhD, Aquaculture Extension Specialist, The Ohio State University. “It’s exciting to think that we can develop a new industry that will revolutionize the production of fish in Ohio.”

Unlike traditionally farmed fish, Northcoast Fish Farm will incorporate a proven, proprietary Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS), where water is cleaned, filtered and recycled to the fish culture tanks. This bio-secure method uses neither hormones nor antibiotics, making the farmed fish safe and sustainable. The design of the RAS is the brainchild of Steve Van Gorder, an internationally renowned expert and 37-year veteran of advanced aquaculture systems. He will oversee the initial operation of Northcoast Fish Farm. “The RAS is calibrated to grow fish in a low-stress environment that promotes rapid growth rates and minimizes fish feed costs and the net carbon footprint,” says Van Gorder, RAS Architect and President of Fresh Culture Systems.

As part of the symbiotic, self-sustaining ecosystem, all fish waste will be used by Northcoast Orchards, which will use the nutrient-rich material as fertilizer either in the greenhouses or local orchards, depending on the season.

J. Shorey has been methodical in developing a comprehensive vision for The Foundry Project. In addition to the fish farm, orchards and a data center, The Foundry Project will include a sheep farm, live fish brokerage, farmer’s market, a cooking school whose focus is teaching local families how to cook in a healthier manner, and both an arts and tech incubator, where each area complements and benefits others. The project will have a campus-like feel where 24/7 security will be a top priority.

“My vision is to create a transformative and thriving campus where people are pursuing a variety of objectives and generating new ideas,” says Shorey. “The Foundry Project is a brownfield redevelopment project that will grow sustainable fish, create good jobs for both inner city and other residents and bring good food choices to the neighborhood by addressing the food desert.”

“Redeveloping this property in the Fairfax-Woodland neighborhood will play a key role in recycling land back into productive use while creating new jobs and inspiration for local residents,” says Mike Foley, Director of Sustainability for Cuyahoga County. “It’s the right thing to do for the environment and the economy.”

Shorey has always had a passion for making something new out of the old, and was inspired when he learned the former Taylor and Boggis Foundry site located in inner-city Cleveland had become available. The east side foundry site is in a neighborhood characterized by shuttered industrial facilities and dilapidated housing stock. However, given the efforts to revitalize the inner city, driven by the expansion of the nearby University Circle/Cleveland Clinic/University Hospital’s complex as well as the new Opportunity Corridor Project (a new, $330 million dollar roadway linking the highway with University Circle), Shorey feels this area is primed for recovery.

About The Foundry Project

The Foundry Project is an integrated collection of businesses and organizations that combine to form an economically productive, environmentally sustainable community that creates healthy foods, profitable growth, jobs and art. A for-profit, sustainable farm in the city operation is at the core of The Foundry Project, with an indoor fish farm comprising its first initiative of development. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Via Vera Group
Nikki DiFilippo, 216-780-0472
Founder, The Foundry Project:
J. Duncan Shorey, 216-906-1300