This case involves quantifying emissions, their impact, and applying the social cost of carbon to complete a comparative financial valuation for a fictional startup, VerticalFarm Co. (VFC).
VerticalFarm Co. sites, develops, and owns/operates vertical farms in retrofitted buildings such as warehouses or high rises. These vertical farms grow fresh produce (e.g., lettuce, spinach, microgreens and herbs), using lighting, water nutrient delivery systems, and temperature control. VFC’s leadership is passionate about providing fresh, nutritious food in traditionally food-insecure urban areas and creating employment opportunities in the local community. They aim to expand their operations to a building in Chicago for which they seek venture capital (VC) investment.
The fictional protagonist is a senior investment analyst at a large VC firm. She is asked by her boss to evaluate how the social cost of carbon would affect the firm’s current valuation of VCF—and her analysis and recommendation is due in just a few days, per the request of the firm’s board of directors. Students are asked to act as the protagonist and incorporate the social cost of carbon into the proforma projections and then compare them to the original due diligence analysis. Finally, they will make a recommendation either “for” or “against” investing in VFC.
The case provides an overview of climate change; why emissions are a challenge (from both global stability and monetary impact quantification perspectives); an overview of controlled environment agriculture; and the framework for an analysis and the quantification of the social cost of carbon. Data on alternative estimates of the carbon price for the United States are provided.