Greenhouse Retrofits And New Builds: Planning Tips

Here are some tips to help you with planning an expansion, reducing operating costs, or improving efficiency.

The first step is to know what you want to accomplish. If operation labor reduction is the key motivator behind a retrofit project, then you need to look at how the greenhouse is affecting your labor. The best value for retrofitting will be different than if increasing crop yield is your main goal.

Greenhouse Retrofits For Increasing Worker Productivity

Replace stationary benches with rolling benches. In an effort to pack as much production as possible inside the greenhouse, many greenhouse growers leave virtually no space to walk between the crop. With rolling benches, you only need one aisle per house, so you may increase the width of your production aisles without losing any crop production. This enables workers to move more efficiently between the benches.

Typically, rolling benches can also offer the benefit of adding 25 percent more production space from conventional stationary bench layouts.

Bring in material handling systems like double rail carts and Echo Basket Systems. Remember, if your material handling system is supported by the greenhouse, you need to make sure the greenhouse design will handle these loads.

Consider adding more ventilation, or HAF fans to move the air. If your greenhouse gets too hot in the summer, it’s not just your plants that may be lagging. Creating a good working environment will lead to more productive workers.

Greenhouse Retrofits For Increasing Production

Rolling benches get another vote under this category. Rolling benches can typically add 25 percent more production space from conventional stationary bench layouts.

Reglaze the roof. If you are growing in a poly greenhouse, reglazing is part of your regular maintenance schedule. But 8mm PCSS roofs, acrylic and even glass can get dull or damaged. When looking at how to get more out of your greenhouse, consider the light levels you need and review your roof glazing.

Greenhouse Retrofits For Improving The Crop Environment

Add extra ventilation. This can be the easiest and most cost-effective retrofit to an older greenhouse. Rollup curtains can be added to any hoop house or gutter-connected poly sidewalls or poly end walls, and can be manually operated or hooked up with a simple motor. Hard glazed sides and ends can be fitted with vents, and in most cases you can reuse the existing sidewall glazing. And gutter and ridge vents can be added to most greenhouse arches with a little expertise. What is that value in adding ventilation? Better flexibility for your growing environment to reduce humidity, increase air flow and help harden plants.

Raise the roof. This is not a retrofit project for the squeamish, and in some cases it may be more expensive than tearing down the greenhouse and starting from scratch. However, every year a few growers decide it is worth it to improve the growing environment. For this kind of project, you need to make sure you hire a qualified greenhouse builder with experience in raising greenhouses. Keep in mind that modern commercial greenhouses are being built with 16 to 24 feet under-gutter heights.

Greenhouse Retrofits For Reducing Other Operating Costs

Install energy curtains. Energy curtains will result in significant heat savings in the winter – between 20 and 40 percent. They also provide shade and help keep your greenhouse cool in the summer months.

Check your vents. Over time with sun exposure, wind, rain and snow, the rubber seal on ventilation windows can grow brittle, or malformed. This means that your vents will no longer seal properly. Improper seals cost money as heat is directed out of your greenhouse. Poorly sealed vents also affect the operation of your vent. Modern greenhouse roof ventilation uses EPDM rubber, which is more durable than older vent rubbers.

Consider flood benches. The savings potential in water and fertilizer can often justify the cost of the benches.

New Commercial Greenhouse Construction

When retrofitting your greenhouse is not the answer, a new construction expansion may be what you need. Planning a construction project from the ground up involves a lot of details that you may not deal with on a regular basis. Use your greenhouse manufacturer and greenhouse construction company to help you with the planning process. Here are a few pointers to help you start:

Assess your production demand to establish the greenhouse footprint. Consider beyond your immediate needs and plan to allow for some future growth as well, if possible.

Now consider the environment you need for optimum plant growth. Talk to your supplier about how extra under-gutter height, additional ventilation, glazing material options and the different styles of greenhouses can improve or detract from the environment you want.

Look at your existing facilities and systems. What is sufficient for this expansion and what will require more capacity? This includes shipping bays, warehouse space, office space, environmental controls and the heating system. You should always get a qualified greenhouse heating engineer to review your current greenhouse heating and your expansion plans.

Talk to your local building inspector. Every year, more regulations are put in place. Make sure your proposed expansion follows all laws and town regulations. For instance, if your building is too close to your neighbor’s land, you may need to file a variance with the town.

If you are expanding your production space, you may need more warehousing and storage space to accommodate this extra yield. Most greenhouse growers wantto build these areas out of greenhouse structures. Widespan greenhouses are particularly good for shipping areas.

Leave a Reply

More From Greenhouses...

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Women To Seek Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and Suppliers Together in San Diego This October

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s New

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Latest Stories
Rough Brothers aeroponic greenhouse project

February 24, 2015

Rough Brothers Takes A Hands-On Approach To Several Pro…

Two projects Rough Brothers worked on for Altman plants in Giddings, Texas, and Scissortail Farms in Tulsa County, Okla., show that pre-planning on the grower's part opens the way for a smooth-running expansion project.

Read More
Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing's Rainbow Super Structure

February 23, 2015

Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing Says Every Customer’s G…

Well-suited greenhouses that function efficiently for customers arise from involving them in the design process from start to finish. Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing put this philosophy on a greenhouse design for a wholesale grower looking to expand his annuals operation. The grower's needs were simple, yet daunting: design a greenhouse that delivers the perfect growing environment, but keep maintenance and operating costs low.

Read More
National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association

January 27, 2015

Stricter Energy Codes May Impact Your Ability To Expand

Are you aware stricter energy codes may be on the horizon that will certainly impact your business in a big way? Here's a Q & A from the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association that helps explain the dangers of the coming energy codes and what we as an industry can do to prevent them.

Read More

January 27, 2015

10 Questions To Ask Before Purchasing A Greenhouse Cove…

Whether you’re replacing an existing greenhouse covering or building a new greenhouse, it’s a significant investment, so you need to make sure you have the right type of covering to suit your needs and budget. What’s more, with production costs on the rise, you can’t afford to have anything less than a durable, high-quality covering that is energy efficient. To make a smart purchase, do your homework before you buy. A good place to start is by answering the following questions, which will help you separate the good products from the mediocre ones.

Read More

January 26, 2015

Greenhouse Growers Look To Build And Retrofit In 2015

You’re likely to see more construction work going on in the greenhouse industry in 2015, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State of the Industry survey. Responses show growers have high hopes for the future, which may be one reason why more of them are looking to spruce up their facilities.

Read More
Griffin Logo

November 10, 2014

Griffin Announces Dates For 2015 Grower And Retailer Ex…

Griffin Grower and Retailer Expo 2015 dates set for Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Read More

September 30, 2014

Emerald Coast Growers Adds Greenhouse Space To Increase…

Emerald Coast Growers has expanded with the addition of 25,344 square feet at their Milton, Fla., facility. The construction is in response to increased demand for their products, and will primarily be used for ornamental grass production.

Read More

June 6, 2014

High Tunnels: Reduce Heating Costs While Improving Bedd…

This is the first article in a two-part series featuring research from Purdue University that focuses on energy-efficient production of cold-tolerant bedding plants.

Read More

May 27, 2014

4 Ways To Finance Your Greenhouse Upgrade

If you’re ready to invest in greenhouse energy-efficient upgrades but aren’t sure how to finance them, there are a number of resources that can help.

Read More

May 22, 2014

Structures Issue: Growers Evolve With New Growth And Ma…

Is our industry really improving or does it just look that way? With growth in the past two years among Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers and the housing market on the upswing, the economy certainly is showing signs of life.

Read More

May 21, 2014

Lucas Greenhouses Gets A Jump On Spring Crops With Its …

A retractable roof greenhouse enables Lucas Greenhouses to start and finish part of its spring crop earlier and provides a superior production environment into the fall.

Read More

May 2, 2014

High Tunnels Help To Expand Markets, Crops

Growers are taking advantage of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative to extend the production season for a variety of crops.

Read More

April 24, 2014

9 High Tunnel And Shade Products For Your Operation

Extend the growing season and enhance plant quality with these nine high tunnel and shade products.

Read More
National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association

March 21, 2014

Greenhouse Heating Basics From The National Greenhouse …

Here's a Q&A from the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association that might help you improve your greenhouse.

Read More
Greenhouse interior At Corsos

March 18, 2014

Will Greenhouses Add Production Space In 2014?

For those who are making changes this year, many responded that new production space will be used to extend their growing seasons, for early-season sales as well as edibles during the winter months.

Read More

February 25, 2014

Behind The New Greenhouse Projects At Van de Wetering A…

Read about the projects VB Greenhouses worked on at Van de Wetering Greenhouses and Kurtz Farms.

Read More

February 25, 2014

7 Spring Cleaning Tips For Commercial Greenhouses

During every busy shipping season you invariably run into issues that would have been eliminated had a little spring cleaning taken place. Here are a few points you may want to consider before spring shipping rolls around:

Read More

January 21, 2014

Exclusive: Danziger Is Building A State-Of-The-Art Stoc…

The breeder is constructing almost nine acres of state-of-the-art greenhouses near Barbarena, Guatemala, to bring its stock farm closer to the U.S. market. The first phase of construction was complete in February 2014.

Read More