Design Criteria for a Modern Commercial Greenhouse Facility-1

The commercial greenhouse industry has seen many significant changes during the past 10-15 years, including:
  • Increased labor costs
  • Increased general operating costs
  • Increased energy costs
  • Customer demands for higher quality and service
  • Lower margins

commercial greenhouse industry

These changes have stimulated the introduction of a range of new greenhouse installations methods and greenhouse equipment's  This not only made commercial growers facilities much more expensive to build, it also made it necessary to plan the overall design of the facility much more carefully. In order to avoid costly retrofits at a later stage, a comprehensive master plan should be developed before starting on new greenhouse construction or expansion of an existing facility. This plan should reflect in detail how the owner/operator intends the completed facility to look like. It must be realized that all systems and installations must eventually be integrated and that they need to be designed accordingly. Special attention must be given at this stage to the actual operating mode of the facility, e.g. how the plants or produce will be moved in and out of the greenhouse, how the orders will be gathered, where the loading docks will be located, etc. The location and dimensions of the head house also needs to be considered carefully. A comprehensive greenhouse construction checklist will be a useful tool during the design process.

Although this approach is now absolutely necessary when planning a new facility, it is also becoming increasingly important when planning an expansion of an existing facility.

It may not always be possible to include all desired systems and installations during the initial stage of the project. However, the facility should still be designed as if these systems and installations would be included. This will ensure that they can be added without difficulty and unnecessary expense at a later date.

The Building Side:
Several factors must be considered when selecting the location for a new Commercial greenhouse facility, e.g. access to the property, availability of electric and natural gas supply to the site, distance from customers, etc. The most important factor is the availability of sufficient, good quality irrigation water.

If at all possible, the commercial greenhouse should be built on a level piece of land. This will avoid future problems with heating systems, grow lights, etc.

With several new environmental protection regulations enforced in many locations, it is becoming more important to pay close attention to the control of the run-off from the commercial greenhouse. It may be necessary to include a holding pond in the design of the facility. Storm drains must be sized properly and be large enough to prevent the commercial greenhouse gutters from overflowing. An inch of rain produces over 27,000 gallons of water per acre. Commercial greenhouse roof drainage systems need to be able to handle a minimum of 5” of rain per hour.

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