Cost Mitigation Strategy

The Center for Permaculture and Appropriate Technology’s cost mitigation strategy is divided into three sections: Design, Funding Plan, and Monetization.


CPAT architects chose building designs and construction techniques to reduce the costs of constructing the project, and maintaining its structures and natural components.

A large portion of the land is set aside for farming functions so that CPAT becomes a holistic center for education, observation, and study. By dedicating land to outdoor farming, this “Living Building” project becomes a food oasis without the need for the traditional fix of building a large-format grocery store.

Buildings generate their own electricity with renewable power sources and reduce their energy needs over comparably sized buildings by using passive solar design, geothermal energy, integrating high-insulation components (including windows and wall insulation), and heat exchangers. Together, these create a building envelope with a high R-value. Electricity will be generated with photovoltaic solar panels on all buildings and wind turbines distributed across the site..

The geodesic dome is a great example of passive solar design and houses parts of the food forest and water-cleaning wetland living machine. Domes are inexpensive to build compared to traditional, cubic buildings. Domes span hundreds of feet without internal columns; the CPAT dome is only 85 feet wide.

A dome encloses the largest volume with the lowest surface area which affects passive solar design by helping the building to retain warm temperatures in the colder months. The uniformity and modularity of the triangle panels makes manufacturing simple; panel sizes can be modified easily to match a manufacturer’s capabilities.

Many cost reductions will occur during construction.

  • Materials and furnishings will be sourced locally and include reclaimed materials from vendors such as the Rebuilding Exchange.

  • Bricks for the dome’s upper foundation wall will be made manually from site soil.

  • One way to optimize construction phasing is to install the underground water cisterns when the gasoline storage tanks are excavated.

Other design choices to reduce costs include the use of natural materials – rammed earth will cover the west side of the Barn – and green roofs. Day-to-day operations are also affected by Living Building Challenge principles: cargo bicycles will be used to distribute goods around the site instead of powered vehicles.

Funding Plan

The Center for Permaculture and Appropriate Technology will be incorporated as a non-profit organization in order to attract grants and tax-deductible donations. CPAT will take advantage of many tax exemptions, reductions, credits, as well as private and public grants, and the encompassing Tax Increment Financing district (TIF) that provides grants to develop or expand new or existing sites.

The Central West TIF district, as of January 2012, had a balance of $40 million. The TIF district was created with eleven objectives. CPAT’s goal to create an education center selling the food harvested through the learning programs on a brownfield is aligned with four objectives: remediating environmental problems, supporting job training programs, increasing job opportunities for area residents, and preparing sites for retail and commercial investments.

Additional funding opportunities are listed below:

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) beginning farmers program. This would help pay for scholarships for students of the CPAT learning programs.

  • Grants

    • Community Development Block Grant

    • Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Energy Efficiency Grant

    • Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant

    • Boeing Foundation.  Skills training and economic growth in underserved communities.

  • Tax credits

    • Federal Energy Credit for Energy Efficiency

    • Production Tax Credit (for renewable energy)

  • Chicago Enterprise Zone

    • Sales Tax Exemption

    • Property Tax Reduction

    • Finance Assistance

    • Real Estate Tax Exemption

    • Investment Tax Credit

    • State Jobs Creation Credit

    • Machinery & Equipment Sales Tax Exemption

    • Utility Tax Exemption


There are many opportunities in the Center for Permaculture and Appropriate Technology that provide the organization with revenue. They include:

  • Poultry: Eggs, chickens, chicks, chicken supply

  • Sale of produce, including food grown on site and food grown in external urban gardens

  • Farmers market rental fees

  • Leases from offices, and retail and coworking spaces

  • Revenue from tuition and room & board

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