Greenhouse Energy Assessments And Energy Audits: 7 Things You Should Know

Many growers understand that managing energy costs is critical to ensuring long-term success for their operations. Thankfully, there are a number of proven technological advancements that can help manage these costs. Condensing boilers, more efficient heating delivery systems, energy curtains, lighting improvements and other approaches have been widely embraced as a means of reducing overall energy usage. However, when it comes to determining how much of an effect these technologies will have, growers must usually rely on what vendors tell them, or talk with other growers and see what their results have been.

This is where an energy audit or assessment can prove extremely useful. Below are seven things you should know when considering whether to have an energy audit or assessment conducted at your facility.

1. Energy audits and energy assessments are not one and the same. Generally speaking, energy assessments are a less rigorous version of an energy audit. Depending on what level of detail is needed, both are appropriate starting points for growers to get a handle on their energy usage. If you plan on using your energy-related audit for purposes of garnering an incentive, make sure you know what level of detail is required before you begin.

2. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Perhaps the biggest reason to have an energy audit performed is due to this common saying. Potential areas for improvement may be widespread at your facility; however, it is impossible to know which areas need the most attention if it has never been measured. All greenhouses should know their energy baseline, i.e. how much energy they use, how much it costs, and where is it being used. Energy audits will help get to the bottom of this, while energy assessments may touch on measures that can help reduce your overall usage but may not provide a complete energy profile of your facility.

3. Areas of energy consumption will be identified. Once an audit has been conducted, areas of energy consumption will be identified. In this way, owners and growers will be able to quantify the costs associated with different zones and structures. Using this information, they can make decisions about how to most cost effectively grow their product.

4. Energy conservation measures will be identified and ranked. A good auditor is trained to understand greenhouse environments and has the ability to identify projects or technologies that will not only reduce energy consumption, but meet a “reasonable” payback standard. In many cases, “reasonable” may mean that if the project pays for itself in energy savings within its operational lifetime it is deemed a good investment. However, which projects make your budget will certainly be up to you.

The audit will also allow you to compare which projects should be at the top of your improvement list. A common example of this scenario may occur when a grower is considering whether to install new, more efficient boilers or replace worn energy curtains. Both projects will obviously come at a cost, and both projects will save the grower money. However, it can be hard to tell which project is going to be the most beneficial without having an independent auditor give you the hard numbers.

5. Audits can serve as affirmation of good practice. Many growers find audits comforting in that they reinforce positive practices and approaches that are already in place. Auditors will often acknowledge areas in which growers are doing very well, with the hopes of encouraging them to do more of the same. Maybe you replaced half of a house of old, damaged unit heaters with a hot water system and wondered if you should finish the other half. Having an independent set of eyes confirm the effectiveness of your previous project can give you confidence as you move forward with future heating projects.

6. Audits are often needed to unlock energy-related incentives. Many utility and state programs require third-party audits to be conducted prior to releasing rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient equipment. Other utility programs will provide custom incentive measures based on a $/kWh or $/therm savings basis. Often this information is derived directly from the results of an energy audit.

Additionally, many utility companies and governmental agencies offer subsidized or even free energy audits through approved contractors. Contacting your utility company or account representative is a great way to find out if audit programs are available in your area.

7. Audits take time, so plan ahead. A lot of information will need to be organized and put back together. So if you want to have an audit performed to help evaluate a number of energy-saving projects in your next budget, begin planning your audit 60 to 90 days before decision making occurs.

Having an energy audit or assessment performed at your facility is very valuable for leadership to make long-term plans. If used correctly, it will allow owners to be more informed and educated about how they use energy and what options exist to help reduce costs. With all of the benefits mentioned above, maybe the time is right to have your operation evaluated. There may be thousands of dollars worth of savings just waiting to be identified.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Greenhouse Energy Assessments And Energy Audits: 7 Things You Should Know

More From Technology...
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

February 17, 2018

Gotham Greens Building Second Greenhouse in Suburban Chicago

The new $12.5 million, 105,000-square-foot greenhouse will be near the company’s first Chicago greenhouse, and will be a free-standing structure.

Read More
Water-Sensor-for-pH-in-cannabis-greenhouse

February 5, 2018

Tips for Using a Greenhouse Monitoring System to Protect Your Cannabis Plants

Properly selecting and installing a remote monitoring system can help cannabis growers identify trends in environmental conditions to make sure they aren’t fluctuating, which could indicate a possible equipment problem.

Read More
Labeled-Trays-from-ISO-Line

February 4, 2018

Automation Turns to Data at Four Star Greenhouses

When Four Star Greenhouses needed its ISO machines to do more than stick cuttings, three businesses came together to come up with an innovative solution.

Read More
Latest Stories
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

February 17, 2018

Gotham Greens Building Second Greenhouse in Suburban Ch…

The new $12.5 million, 105,000-square-foot greenhouse will be near the company’s first Chicago greenhouse, and will be a free-standing structure.

Read More
Water-Sensor-for-pH-in-cannabis-greenhouse

February 5, 2018

Tips for Using a Greenhouse Monitoring System to Protec…

Properly selecting and installing a remote monitoring system can help cannabis growers identify trends in environmental conditions to make sure they aren’t fluctuating, which could indicate a possible equipment problem.

Read More
Labeled-Trays-from-ISO-Line

February 4, 2018

Automation Turns to Data at Four Star Greenhouses

When Four Star Greenhouses needed its ISO machines to do more than stick cuttings, three businesses came together to come up with an innovative solution.

Read More
GrowLink Irrigation Controller

February 3, 2018

Precision Irrigation Controller Helps Improve Watering …

Growlink’s precision irrigation controller offers wide-ranging control of irrigation systems and applications in the greenhouse to help growers save time and water.

Read More
Man using quantum meter in greenhouse

February 3, 2018

How to Measure Greenhouse Light With Quantum Meters

In part three of this five-part series about the tools you need to keep track of your greenhouse environment, learn how to effectively use quantum sensors to monitor how much light your plants need for optimal growth.

Read More
Plug-Planter-Bouldin-and-Lawson-close-up-feature

February 1, 2018

New Greenhouse Transplanters Aim for Improved Accuracy,…

Manufacturers of transplanters and sticking machines for cuttings have developed new systems that can meet the needs of growers of all sizes. Here’s a look at some of the latest products on the market.

Read More
Mist-Benches-at-PlantWorks-feature

January 29, 2018

How Plantworks Uses Unique Watering Approaches

The North Carolina-based nursery is trialing flood beds in its perennial houses, and is also replacing its misting systems.

Read More
Philips Lighting GrowWise Control System

January 29, 2018

Philips Lighting Debuts New Custom Lighting Program at …

Philips Lighting’s new GrowWise Control System gives growers and researchers more flexibility and control for LED cultivation.

Read More
Sudlak-TopClear

January 26, 2018

HortAmericas Offering New Shading Products to Help With…

HortAmericas recently announced a new partnership with Sudlac, a European-based shading products supplier that offers solutions to help growers manage light and protect the greenhouse structure.

Read More
Metrolina-Fork-Lift-1

January 24, 2018

Automation Never Stops, Even for the Biggest Growers

Metrolina Greenhouses has designed a unique forklift system to help move plants more efficiently at its newest perennial facility.

Read More
WaterPulse-Pallet-Mat

January 23, 2018

WaterPulse Introduces New Pallet Watering Mat

Pallet Watering Mats have a rubber edge to keep water in and prevent water runoff.

Read More
ISO-Group-New-Machine

January 23, 2018

ISO Group Debuting New Cutting and Transplanting Machin…

Because many growers have a limited season for sticking cuttings, ISO Group wanted to develop a machine that can also transplant liners.

Read More
Colorado-Greenhouse-Lighting-Research

January 20, 2018

New Tech Could Lead to More Efficient Use of Light in t…

Working with a $2.45 million USDA grant, a team of University of Colorado Boulder researchers are developing a scalable, cost-effective new greenhouse material.

Read More
Dynamax-SM150-Kit-feature

January 20, 2018

Soil Moisture Sensor Designed for Durability and Accura…

The new SM150T soil moisture sensor from Dynamax was developed to measure soil moisture and temperature with research-grade accuracy.

Read More
Hanging-Basket-Trimmer-at-Kube-Pak-feature

January 17, 2018

Self-Designed Hanging Basket Trimmer at Kube-Pak Saves …

Kube-Pak recently designed its own trimmer to improve efficiency in hanging basket production. The early returns have been very promising.

Read More
Dramm-Mist-Time-Controller

January 1, 2018

Dramm Updates Misting Controller to Allow for Extra Mis…

Dramm recently updated its MistTime10 misting controller to include a manual cycle that can be run anytime a grower feels an extra shot of mist is required.

Read More

December 12, 2017

Research Sheds Light on How to Manage Plant Stress With…

An innovative system developed by Chinese researchers uses rapid imagery to indicate plant health, enabling growers to respond quickly and automatically to plant stress.

Read More
ISO-Group-Transplanter-feature

December 11, 2017

Evaluating Robotic Transplanters for Plant Cuttings

There are several factors that might affect your decision to invest in transplant robots, based on initial observations and reported information about available equipment.

Read More