Research greenhouse focuses on energy efficiency
By Brandi Cowen
The price tag attached to North Dakota State University’s $33 million research greenhouse complex may raise eyebrows, but this is no ordinary greenhouse.
The facility features almost two acres of growing space, separated into individually controlled compartments. Each compartment has its own water, heating and electrical supplies, which allows researchers to study how plants perform in a variety of conditions, as well as how invasive plant and insect species fare.
According to the Jamestown Sun:
“… The energy efficient facility is partially heated by geothermal technology, and the compartments boast energy curtains to keep heat out on sunny days and hold the heat in during the winter.”
Other energy-efficient features of the greenhouse include:
- Automated sunshades that open during the day and close at night.
- A facility-wide lighting control system that communicates with an on-site weather station to monitor how much sunlight each compartment in the greenhouse is receiving. When the system detects that a room is receiving sufficient sunlight, it turns off the artificial lighting in the room.
- Artificial lights that draw just 600 W of power, instead of the typical 1,000 W found in many greenhouses.
- Built-in deflectors that aim all artificial light directly at the plants, avoiding the waste associated with lighting an entire growing space.
- A balanced temperature system that can pull excess heat generated by artificial lighting from one part of the building and transfer it to a cooler area.
- An HVAC system that transfers excess heat fromf the greenhouse to the ground in the summer, then draws that heat back into the greenhouse when temperatures start to drop.