WC-23Opportunities and Challenges for Integrated Food-Energy Systems


This world café brings together practitioners, researchers, and other stakeholders of diverse agri-food systems that involve local co-production of food and energy. As a result, it provides a rare opportunity for sharing and synthesizing knowledge across integrated food-energy systems (IFES), ranging from landfill methane recapture powering greenhouses, to agri-voltaics, to manure-based biogas systems. The discussion will build off our recent survey of types of IFES that diversify farm products and close waste-resource loops (Gerst et al. 2015, doi: 10.1021/es504090u ). We will address knowledge gaps, scale issues, and policy mismatches that affect the potential of IFES to improve farm resilience and to reduce environmental impacts of local food production, as well as challenges of constructing, operating, and governing an IFES.


  • Michael Gerst, Research Assistant Professor, University of Maryland
  • Anne Kapuscinski, Professor of Environmental Studies,Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Sustainability Science, Dartmouth College


  • Michael Gerst, Research Assistant Professor, University of Maryland
  • Anne Kapuscinski, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Sustainability Science, Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College
  • Michael Raker, Agricultural Energy Consultants
  • Ryan Shelby, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Don McCormick, Founder and CEO Local Farms Project

Anne R. Kapuscinski is the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Sustainability Science in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College. She is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Editor in Chief of Sustainability Transitions, a domain of the open-access journal, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. She leads an interdisciplinary team researching how integrated food-energy systems (IFES) address the food-water-energy nexus in the face of climate change. One project studies 50 dairy farms to quantify effects of anaerobic digesters on closing nutrient, energy and water loops and on long-term financial resilience. Another project develops microalgae feeds for aquaculture, the world’s fastest growing food sector, and assesses their life-cycle environmental benefits. 603-646-2668, anne.kapuscinski@dartmouth.edu

More information:


Gerst, M., M. Cox, K. Locke, M. Laser, and A.R. Kapuscinski. 2014. A taxonomic framework for assessing governance challenges and environmental effects of integrated food-energy systems. Environmental Science and Technology: 8 pp. & Suppl. Info. DOI 10.1021/es504090u. Free download from: http://pubs.acs.org/articlesonrequest/AOR-kB9FyRyUguZxMHmUaits

Michael Gerst is a research faculty at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland. His expertise is in decision and systems analysis of problems that involve the intersection of the environment, technology, and society. In addition to study of the resilience and environmental impact of integrated food-energy systems, his research portfolio has included elements of cost-benefit analysis of climate policy, the development of new scenario techniques for planning under uncertainty, guiding co-production efforts of global change indicators, and testing of visualization design efficacy. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in industrial ecology and techno-economic systems analysis. mgerst@umd.edu

Michael Raker is actively engaged in state and federal farm and energy policy on issues including the Vermont Standard Offer Program, net-metering, project permitting, and USDA grant programs. For more than two decades Mike has been helping Vermont farm improve their electrical energy efficiency and produce renewable energy via anaerobic digestion of farm wastes. For most of these years he has been a self employed consultant providing services to farmers via Vermont’s electric and efficiency utilities. For ten years Mike was the sole staff person for the Green Mountain Power Renewable Development Fund. In this capacity he provided technical assistance to all of the Vermont digester projects. Mike has a bachelors degree in Botany from the University of Massachusetts. 802-454-0123, mmraker@aol.com

Ryan Shelby is a senior energy engineering advisor within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that works on the design and implementation of decentralized energy projects (<1 MW to 10 MW) in Sub Saharan Africa and other emerging regions. Within the USAID, Dr. Shelby serves as the Program Manager for the Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC) initiative which seeks to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy solutions for increasing agriculture productivity in developing countries. Dr. Shelby completed his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering. rshelby@usaid.gov

Don McCormick is the founder of the Local Farms Project (LFP), designer of the Keene Energy & Agriculture Project, and a leader in sustainable food production in New England for over 15 years. Don and his team created the LFP brand at Carbon Harvest Energy, where Don engineered the successful operations, production and marketing of a state-of-the-art integrated growing facility in Brattleboro VT. Don has a unique capacity for analyzing local resources and needs, and engineering integrated food and energy systems to provide real solutions to issues of local food and energy security, impacts of climate change, water management, and significant reduction of carbon emissions. Prior to founding Carbon Harvest, Don owned a sustainable aquaponics greenhouse business in Westport NY and served as Executive Director of the Intervale Center in Burlington VT.

Leave a Comment