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Greenhouse Energy Conservation
Bubble Greenhouse Technology


Principal Investigators:
Margaret Skinner, Bruce L. Parker, Donald Tobi, & Cheryl Frank (UVM)
Effective Dates:  6/1/2010 - Current

Collaborators:

Claussen's Florist & Greenhouses (Colchester, VT)
John W. Bartok Jr., Consultant.  Greenhouse Agric. Engineer, Ext. Prof. Emeritus, Univ. CT.
Peter Skinner, Consultant. Engineer/Owner, E2G Solar Energy, Albany, NY.


About:
Unfavorable weather is a bane to farmers leading to financial instability.  Growers are turning to greenhouse production to reduce loss due to poor weather and increase the length of the growing season. Though plastic hoop houses are inexpensive to erect, they demand large amounts of energy, especially in northern climates. This project builds on our greenhouse network in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, partnering with growers to increase their sustainability through improved energy conservation. Two innovative energy-saving devices--a bubble insulation system and an energy curtain--are being retrofitted into greenhouses at one of VT's largest greenhouse ornamentals operation. This project is underway and cost savings have already been noticed!



Objectives:
  1. Assess two innovative energy-saving devices retrofitted into a greenhouse: a bubble insulation system and an energy/shade screen system.
  2. Conduct comprehensive energy audits before and after retrofitting the greenhouses to quantify the benefits of both devices. 
  3. Determine cost of greenhouse retrofitting, energy savings and potential tax incentives from which to assess the costs and benefits of both systems compared to an unimproved greenhouse.
  4. Conduct a survey to generate baseline data on current energy consumption and conservation used by greenhouse growers in the tri-state region.
  5. Conduct energy audits at 9 greenhouse operations to provide quantitative information about trends in current energy consumption and identify the most significant measures that would improve conservation.
  6. Produce a grower-friendly guide entitled “How to Retrofit a Greenhouse for Energy Conservation” Cost of retrofitting, energy savings and potential tax incentives will be determined from the data, from which an accurate assessment of the benefits of these systems will be made.
  7. Develop a web-based program enabling growers to calculate cost savings from energy conservation activities.


Curtain
Energy Curtain (Closed Position)
Bubbles
Bubble Generation

Exclusive Bubble Footage!

Vermont Energy Independence Day (VEID)* Bubble Greenhouse Video Segment 2012 by Nathan Lake, a UVM RSNER undergraduate student. Click HERE

*VEID is an annual celebration of how the people, communities, and state of Vermont are envisioning a resilient, responsible energy future. It’s also a crowd-sourced film, documenting this transition through the voices and creativity of Vermonters. Check out the VT Energy Independence Day website for the complete Movie and more information. Available: http://brightbluemedia.org/vteid/


See a quick clip of the bubbles in ACTION !
 BubbleAction.avi



Articles & Reports:

Novel Appraches to Improve Energy Efficiency in Northern New England Greenhouses. July 2013
Survey of Energy Use & Energy Conservation in Greenhouse Production in Northern New England. December 2011
Soap Bubbles to Insulate Greenhouses: A New Approach to Energy Conservation. Small Farms Quarterly. October 2011.

Funding Agencies:
New Hampshire Horticulture Endowment
Northeastern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE)
SunArc, Canada
University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Program





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