Exploring Commercial Growing Structures and Strategies in the Northeast
Capital and Energy Cost Analysis of Indoor Facilities, Open Greenhouses, and Closed Hybrid Greenhouses
There has been a great deal of interest in the subject of hybrid greenhouses because of the potential to grow using natural light and save on the high cost of electrical lighting and the energy needed to cool and condition the indoor growing space.
In some climates such as the high plains of Colorado, where light levels are extremely high year round and ambient air is also very dry, the greenhouse is a no brainer for production of fine quality, sun-grown product. Proponents call out the richer terpene profiles, the lower energy costs, and the comfort of working in a naturally lit greenhouse vs. the harsher indoor environment. It is of little surprise that this greenhouse friendly region has seen rapid growth over the last several years.
More recently as markets in northern climates have become legal, many clients have asked about whether a greenhouse can be operated in the harsh climate of the northeastern United States where:
Cold temperatures drop down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower
Summer days blaze with daytime temperatures of 90 degrees and 90% relative humidity
Regulations in markets, such as Massachusetts, restrict foliar-applied organic pesticides
These tough conditions and restrictions lead to much skepticism about greenhouse growing:
A greenhouse must be too expensive to heat in winter and prohibitive to keep cool in summer
It is impossible to keep temperature and humidity in check
Opening the greenhouse to spores means I will never pass stringent testing requirements in my area
While these concerns are valid when evaluating an open greenhouse approach, the emergence of closed hybrid greenhouses with high efficiency HVAC systems such as co-gen, absorption chillers, and variable controlled air conditioning provide growers with new tools for operating a closed hybrid greenhouse under strict climate-controlled conditions.
We have crafted a white paper to address these concerns and introduce a framework for analyzing the capital and energy costs of various production methodologies. It is our goal to help clarify and simplify the many options that new and seasoned growers face when thinking of expanding their business.
In this paper we cover the following:
Required Systems: What features do I need and what are my options?
Cap Cost Analysis: What should I expect my capital costs to be?
Energy Cost Analysis: What should I expect my operating costs to be?
Innovative HVAC Solutions: What new technologies should I think about?
Is there further justification beyond operating cost?