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Greenhouse design competition winners announced

May 29, 2013  By Brandi Cowen

The Looper repurposes an existing river barge into a greenhouse that collects, uses, filters and returns water to the river in a remediated state. (Courtesy of SnoLeaf Branch Collaborative.)

Winners have been announced in the Big Green Greenhouse Design Competition, which challenged people from around the world to create a 3,000 square foot greenhouse meeting the Living Building Challenge guidelines.

All designs had to meet the LBC criteria for net zero energy, water and waste. Projects could not to contain any toxic materials. In addition, each project had to offer an extended growing season in the Washington state bio region and include room for public meeting space.



All entries were judged by a panel of experts.


The winning designs, which were on display during the International Living Future unConference, held May 15 to 17 in Seattle, are:


First place: The Looper

Designed by Agustina Soler, Alan Averill, Amie Sell, Bill Jackson, Bryant Yee, Daun Jung, Ian Marcus, Mark Palmer, Jeramy Yoon, Jocelyn Hoppe and Patrick Keeney


The Looper challenges the idea of a greenhouse and leverages one very simple concept: the growing of plants inherently cleans an ecosystem. To do this, The Looper repurposes an existing river barge into a greenhouse that collects, uses, filters and returns water to the river in a remediated state, forming a loop. At the heart of the vessel is a “living machine” that distributes filtered river water to an aquaponics system supporting plants and fish. As the greenhouse barge moves along the river, it is able to restore water and habitat, serve multiple communities with access to fresh produce and act as a floating classroom.


Second place: The [NPK]house

Designed by Pat Lando, Pete Munoz and Marc Boucher-Colbert


The [NPK]house design is a unique culmination of proven technologies (including solar, compost and heating) and “natural building” greenhouse designs developed by Rutgers University, The New Alchemy and rural areas of China over the past 30 years. The integrated systems have been advanced with the use of modern equipment facilities and cutting-edge production methods. The goal of the [NPK]house crops are tailored to meet the seasonal thermal fluctuations of the greenhouse by raising lettuces and low-growing crops that stay close to the warm soil in winter. During spring, summer and fall, more of the volume of the structure can be filled by hanging baskets and vining rope planted in the upper bed and living walls to make maximum use of all planting areas.


Third place: Growing Postal

Designed by Joseph Swain and Jesse Belknap


Growing Postal is a proposed joint venture between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and a local Food Bank Farm (FBF). The FBF will utilize extra post office space for its greenhouse, freed by the downsizing of postal operations. The USPS will provide food delivery to FBF clients through its existing door-to-door mail delivery service. The partnership will provide the USPS with revenue from leasing some of its space, as well as fees for delivering weekly FBF food packages. Historically, the USPS has experimented with delivering free food to doorsteps directly from farms. Mail trucks in the 1910s did just this with its Farm-To-Table program. Today, with the demand for fresh, locally grown produce and more empty space in mail trucks, the model could be realized again.


The winning greenhouse designs will be used to inspire Snohomish County, Wash., and the surrounding community to think about sustainable design and building practices, as well as sustainable food growing.


The SnoLeaf Branch Collaborative arm of the Cascadia Green Building Council will also look for a site in Snohomish County to locate a new greenhouse.

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