New research facilities at Brooks

December 02, 2009
Written by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
brooks_one
A front view of the research greenhouses. The two bays will each have five compartments and each compartment will be about 1,000 square feet. Two of the compartments will offer Level Two biosecurity containment. A third will be air-conditioned.
PHOTOS BY DR. RON HOWARD
Dec. 3, 2009, Brooks, Alberta – Since the groundbreaking ceremony in the summer of 2008 for the re-construction of a new research greenhouse at the Crop Diversification Centre South in Brooks, building has progressed on all three of the new buildings in the complex. The buildings in the facility design include a 10,000-square-foot research greenhouse, a larger 40,000-square-foot production greenhouse and an 8,000-square-foot header-house.

The compartmentalized research greenhouse is where scientists will access bench space for small research projects. The larger greenhouse, on the scale of a commercial greenhouse, is where research projects will be tested for production capability and secondary, larger scale testing will be completed. The third building houses all of the mechanical systems, training rooms, offices, storage areas, and other support requirements for the greenhouses.

brooks_two
The entrance to the header house. (To the left is the research greenhouse.)
Included will be offices, a seminar/training room, a mechanical room, pest and fertilizer storage facilities, and a potting area. The loading bay seen here is cube van accessible into the grading and packing area. The facility will have two coolers for produce storage.

“Some glass still has to be installed, but installation of many of the mechanical systems is complete or nearly complete,” says Dr. Ron Howard, research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Construction on the facility is about 75 per cent finished and should be finalized in December 2009. After that, the commissioning begins on all of the systems and equipment that need to be up and running and thoroughly checked before work can begin in the greenhouses on or about March 1, 2010.

brooks_three
A rear view of the research greenhouses. An employee of the greenhouse contractor is putting glazing on the peak. This is an all-tempered glass facility.

“Next year (2010) is a very momentous year for this area as the City of Brooks will be celebrating its 100th anniversary and the Crop Diversification Centre South and the Eastern Irrigation District will be celebrating their 75th anniversaries. It will be a great to include the grand opening and ribbon cutting for this new facility that same summer."

The facility is on the scale of a commercial operation, giving staff and Alberta scientists the space to test crops and the newest technology on a commercial scale. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development staff members are anxious to get back into greenhouse space that will enable them to carry out their research projects throughout the winter. Members of the greenhouse industry in Alberta and across Canada view this facility as an asset for the entire Canadian greenhouse industry.

 brooks_four
This is a rear view of the header house. The emergency generator is housed in the smaller building to the left in the photo. There is also a smaller loading dock for deliveries. Note the second storey mezzanine level, which will house some of the mechanical systems.

“This facility will make it possible to collaborate with scientists doing greenhouse research in Canada and internationally," says Howard. "We also hope to see graduate students and post-doctorate fellows coming here to advance their training. This facility will open up another avenue for Alberta scientists to supplement their regular field programs with some added greenhouse projects.”

The new research greenhouse complex will also be used for demonstration and technology transfer. Plans are to bring students, industry representatives and producers to the facility for training and show-and-tell sessions. Using this facility in this way means that the work being done will get communicated to and benefit producers in the greenhouse industry and in the crop industry in general.

Reprinted with permission from the Nov. 9, 2009 edition of Agri News, an e-newsletter published by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

 


BUILDING TO MEET LEED'S SILVER STANDARD

brooks_five
This is a rear view of the production greenhouses. The closest range has five double-poly bays, while further along are the Venlo glass structures. Both ranges have polycarbonate sides and 18’ gutters, and total some 40,000 square feet.

The new facilities are being designed to the standards of the LEED Canada program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a program of the Canada Green Building Council. It is hoped the new greenhouses will meet LEED’s Silver Standard. If successful, the Brooks greenhouses would be the first of its kind in Canada in meeting such high-energy efficiency and environmental construction standards.

Facility features include full nutrient recirculation; rainwater and surface water collection; energy efficient motors, fans and lights; “green” standard building materials; low-emissivity paints; energy efficient glass; bicycle racks; and energy efficient office lighting.

 

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