December 2, 2009 By Dave Harrison
The issue of sustainability is continuing to evolve, and the greenhouse industry will be challenged to keep up with consumer expectations.
The issue of sustainability is continuing to evolve, and the greenhouse
industry will be challenged to keep up with consumer expectations.
According to a Wikipedia posting, “sustainable business, or green
business, is an enterprise that has no negative impact on the global or
local environment, community, society, or economy – a business that
strives to meet the Triple P bottom line of People, Planet and Profit.”
We’re about as green as any other industry, and that’s a huge consideration at retail.
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) is an organization that
describes an estimated $209 billion U.S. marketplace for sustainable
goods and services. “The consumers attracted to this market represent a
sizable group in this country,” notes the website (www.lohas.com).
“Approximately 19 per cent of the adults in the U.S., or 41 million
people, are currently considered LOHAS consumers.”
The new Houweling Nurseries greenhouse facility in California has
received extensive media coverage for its sustainability efforts. Los
Angeles Times reporter Jerry Hirsch had the following comment in his
May 14, 2009, report on the project that’s believed to be the world’s
first energy neutral greenhouse: “…The facility generates its own
renewable power. It hoards rainwater. It hosts its own bumblebees for
pollination. And it requires a fraction of the chemicals used in
neighbouring fields to coax plants to produce like champions….”
Walmart recently announced its sustainability index. The company says
its customers “want to know the product’s entire lifecycle. They want
to know the materials in the product are safe, that it is made well and
is produced in a responsible way.”
The greenhouse industry is already good to go on that front, and
getting better. Recycling initiatives, whether with plastics or water,
are becoming common in many greenhouses. Closed recirculating systems
ensure no runoff issues. Biodegradable containers are a growing segment
of the market; indeed, most containers are made from recycled plastics.
Many growers are replacing fossil fuels with biofuels, and emissions
are meeting stringent limits. There is the potential to grow fuels,
probably either miscanthus or switchgrass. Biological controls are
effectively used within integrated pest management systems.
“Green roof” and “green wall” technologies are emerging markets. Green
roofs significantly reduce water runoff, reduce heating and cooling
requirements and buffer noise pollution. Green walls help purify the
air and cool buildings.
The “locally grown” theme is taking root in many households. Most
families are at least two – but more likely three or more – generations
removed from their farming roots. That’s why there is a huge
fascination in purchasing something grown close to home.
The greenhouse sector is helping fuel this back-to-the-land movement.
Much has been done, and more is in the works. Sustainability is good
for the economy and great for the environment. And it’s a growing trend
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