Energy Conservation: Helpful Hints From NGMA

NGMA Color_webWhy save energy? There are many reasons. Purchased energy is a significant and ongoing expense for most greenhouse operations. There is high probability that energy prices will continue to rise and most greenhouse operations have the ability to economize on fuel use.

Energy is consumed all the time, year after year. Once it is consumed, you can never get it back. Anytime
you can save energy costs, you are moving money directly to your bottom line, increasing your margins and
competitiveness. Energy-efficient systems are usually engineered for optimum conversion, distribution and
retention of heat. They can often produce better, more uniform crops, as well as being good for the environment. Even if it takes additional capital to achieve the highest level of energy saving, the long life of many energy-saving greenhouse system components make them sound investments.

Where Can I Save Energy?

• Make the most of free energy from sunlight by using light-efficient structures and high-quality glazing materials.

• Use the lowest-cost sources of energy.

• Get the maximum benefit from the energy you buy through efficient energy conversion.

• Reduce wasted or lost energy through conservation and insulation.

• Reduce energy demands by adjusting crop timing and crop production regimes.

Saving on energy costs is a multi‐tiered effort. Once you have taken the obvious steps to reduce energy waste, careful investment in energy‐saving technology must be kept in balance with capital costs, additional maintenance and payback periods. The following checklists detail a number of possible areas where you might be able to reduce energy use.

What Are Some Inexpensive Improvements With Short‐Term Payback?

☐ Insulate pipes, foundation walls and north walls

☐ Use light-reflective materials on inner greenhouse surfaces such as ground covers, north walls, posts and
benches

☐ Close up fan housings with insulated covers

☐ Caulk and seal all air leaks

☐ Clean, service and adjust all louvers and vent systems and check to ensure they seal properly when closed.

☐ Make sure exhaust fans and pad and fan systems are in good working order

☐ Use poly liners to reduce heat loss and increase the RH factor in cold winter months

☐ Concentrate crops and shut unused greenhouses

☐ Plant later and grow warmer or plant earlier and grow cooler

☐ Check control settings for accuracy and proper temperature sensor placement (usually at the top of the
crop canopy)

☐ Service and adjust boilers and unit heaters

☐ Make sure thermal curtain systems are working properly and are in good repair

☐ Isolate propagation areas from growing zones — only heat the areas you currently need

☐ Maintain clean glazing surfaces

☐ Reduce boiler water temperature in warmer weather

☐ In colder months, use the lowest heating set points and the highest cooling set points possible

☐ Use split day/night temperatures where possible

☐ Allow climate temperatures to rise naturally late in afternoon to reduce energy demands at night

What Are The Energy Savings From Major Retrofits, Expansions And New Construction?

Consider the design of the greenhouse and all mechanical systems from the perspective of energy use, in addition to the primary functional considerations. Good greenhouse design is the art of integration. Be sure to compare the following structures and components to determine the best way to save energy without compromising your production needs:

• Structural designs

• Covering materials

• Insulation methods

• Natural versus forced ventilation

• Hot water, hot air or radiant heating systems

• HAF versus fan and poly‐tube air distribution

• Manual, semi‐automated or fully-automated controls

Each of these major component decisions has pros and cons, and they often interact with the other greenhouse components selected. Keep reevaluating your design until all components fall into place.

Work with your greenhouse and equipment suppliers until you are happy with the integration compromises. If you lack the experience and knowledge required to do this, consider contacting an experienced supplier or consultant to assist you. The decisions you make at the design stage will be with you for decades to come. Remember, whether you are building or retrofitting a greenhouse, to look at every component with regard to its energy costs and functionality.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Energy Conservation: Helpful Hints From NGMA

More From Finance/Operations...

February 15, 2017

Growers Planning to Invest in Structures in 2017

Data from this year’s Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry survey indicates that growers are planning to make major investments in structures and facility upgrades this year.

Read More
NVAC Greenhouse prototype

February 15, 2017

New Greenhouse Cooling System in Development for Hot-Climate Regions

Researchers at McGill University in Quebec have developed an alternative evaporative cooling solution for greenhouses in warm climates, and are now seeking commercial partners.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Registration Open for NGMA Spring Meeting

The annual gathering of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association will feature a look at green industry trends, emerging market opportunities, and more.

Read More
Latest Stories
EuroAmerican Propagators Greenhouses

February 14, 2017

Suppliers Comment on Plant Genetics’ Fate After EuroAme…

Since the operation’s bankruptcy filing on January 23, 2017, suppliers associated with EuroAmerican Propagators have updated Greenhouse Grower on what the operation’s bankruptcy means for them – and how it will impact grower customers.

Read More
Stephanie Whitehouse

January 17, 2017

Stephanie Whitehouse Takes Her Passion for Plants to Di…

Stephanie Whitehouse, who has spent the last seven years as the Sales and Marketing Director for Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, PA, recently joined Dickman Farms Greenhouse and Garden Center in Auburn, NY, as the company’s new Retail General Manager.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

December 6, 2016

Are You Driving Young Growers Away? [Opinion]

In a time when the industry is facing a critical shortage of both labor and skilled, educated growers, it's important that grower operations don't unwittingly turn candidates off to a career at their business or in the industry in general. Take a closer look at your hiring practices to ensure you are being inclusive and not breaking any laws.

Read More
Trays move on an overhead conveyor to the end of the production line, where workers carefully pack the cleaned, sized, graded, counted and sorted Calla tubers

November 29, 2016

Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means F…

According to Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort, the injunction against the overtime rule is welcome news for horticulture.

Read More
Craig Regelbrugge, senior vice president of AmericanHort - Feature image

October 25, 2016

Contribute To HRI To Help Honor Industry Advocate Craig…

In honor of Craig Regelbrugge's extraordinary contributions to the horticultural industry, AmericanHort and the Horticultural Research Initiative created a special HRI endowment fund in his name: "The Craig Regelbrugge - Advocates for Horticulture Fund."

Read More
Lucas Greenhouses Shipping

October 6, 2016

Greenhouse Shipping Costs Down, But Concerns Remain

Lower gas prices have led to lower shipping costs for some growers, but many continue to seek out ways to become more efficient.

Read More
Pansy ‘Cool Wave Blue Skies’ (Wave)

September 20, 2016

PanAmerican Seed Settles Alleged Trade Sanction Violati…

PanAmerican Seed, a division of Ball Horticultural Co., has been charged with violating trade sanctions to Iran over a number of years. According to a release from the U.S. Treasury department, PanAmerican Seed made 48 indirect sales of seeds to two Iranian distributors. The company shipped the seed to consignees based in countries in Europe and the Middle East. PanAmerican Seed’s customers then arranged for the re-exportation of the seeds to Iran. The release states that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) determined PanAmerican Seed did not voluntarily self-disclose the alleged violations to OFAC, constituting an egregious case. “We believe that the settlement was extreme; however the alternative was to litigate with the U.S. government, which would take months, if not years,” says Todd Billings, Chief Financial Officer for Ball Horticultural Co. When asked what Ball Horticultural Co. has done to ensure that violations to trade sanctions do not […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challeng…

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Awa…

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

September 6, 2016

10 Insights From Charlie Hall’s Green Industry Economic…

With the uncertain current economic climate, Texas A&M economist Charlie Hall says now may be the perfect time to invest — as long as you do it smartly.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More
Plug Connection Assortment

August 9, 2016

AmericanHort’s Plug And Cutting Conference Will Feature…

This year’s conference, which takes place Sept. 19-21 in Carlsbad, CA, features discussions on water, pest and disease control, and production inputs, as well as a biocontrols workshop and tour of local cuttings facilities.

Read More
Cannabis In Greenhouse

July 27, 2016

The Top 5 Myths About Cannabis Production Cleared Up

There is a lot of misleading information going around about growing cannabis. Industry insider James Lowe makes sure you know the truth about cannabis production.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More
Briscoe White, Growers Exchange

July 6, 2016

The Grower’s Exchange Unlocks The Secret to E-Commerce

In the Internet era, Briscoe and Kenan White knew they had to adapt or die and specialize to survive. Here’s how they took The Grower’s Exchange online.

Read More
Brie Arthur

July 6, 2016

5 Can’t-Miss Events To Watch For At Farwest 2016

Whether it’s classes on biocontrols and gardening trends, or networking opportunities in and around the trade show floor, there’s plenty happening at Farwest 2016 in Portland, OR, in August.

Read More
Cannabis states 2016

July 1, 2016

Adult Use Of Cannabis On The Ballot In 2016

25 states have legalized cannabis and public opinion is increasingly positive. Here’s where things may be headed as we move toward the fall elections.

Read More