Passive solar greenhouses are incredible structures that can extend your seasons, improve resilience, and increase the production of your homestead or farm.
There are thousands of different styles, decisions and options that you need to make when you embark on the design and construction of one of these structures which is why taking a digital tour of a variety of greenhouses is one of the best first steps!
In this package we investigate small, large, and commercial scale passive solar greenhouses as well as rectilinear and geodesic style greenhouses. We detail out the construction style, costs, productivity, pros and cons of each style.
At the end of this in depth series you are going to know if a greenhouse is a fit for you and if it is what style you should design and build.
In this case study we look at a large geodesic greenhouse in Lacombe Alberta. This greenhouse acts as an outdoor classroom for the Lacombe Composite high-school and contains a sub tropical plants, an aquaponics system, greens and herb production. The greenhouse runs 12 months/year and has a unique evacuated tube solar collection system to supplement the heating of the greenhouse.
The ground swell community greenhouse is a commercial scale passive solar greenhouse located in Invermere BC. This greenhouse is 2000 sqft and remains above zero 12 months of the year with no additional thermal energy. The greenhouse provides an outdoor classroom for the local college and highschool as well as indoor community garden plots for the community. This greenhouse is heated with solar thermal an annualised geosolar heat storage system and earth tube pre-heat make up air system.
Dales greenhouse is located in Invermere BC and is one of the most unique greenhouses in the digital tour. This greenhouse is connected to Dale's low energy passive solar home. The greenhouse receives waste heat from the dryer vent, heat recovery ventilator and bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans. In addition it has an extensive subterranean heating and cooling system which stores surplus energy through the day and releases it at night. Dale goes into detail on how he attached the greenhouse as well as how he managed the humidity and vapour planes in his wall system.
This 900 sqft greenhouse is located in Kelowna BC and represents the heart of Curtis Stone's market garden farm operation. This greenhouse operates 12 months of the year growing microgreens, farm starts and providing Curtis and his family with a space to hang out in the middle of winter. The greenhouse has a unique glazing strategy as well as a subterranean heating and cooling system which stores thermal energy in the summer for winter use as well as manages the humidity within the greenhouse.
After taking the Small Farm Academy Passive Solar Greenhouse course Calista and Justen got to work designing and building their own back yard passive solar greenhouse. This greenhouse is unique because it is cost effective and scalable. They built a greenhouse on a small budget with the ability to upgrade it down the road once they worked out the kinks.
Vaden Sommers from Calgary Alberta gives you a tour of the greenhouse designed by Verge Permaculture and Fluor Canada built at Hull Services. Vaden shares how the greenhouse was built, what he would change and how he is using the space in his horticultural therapy program. This greenhouse has a solar powered subterranean heating and cooling system which keeps the greenhouse above zero 12 months of the year.
Alpine Edibles operates a Strawbale passive solar greenhouse in Canmore Alberta. Canmore exists within a USDA gardening zone of 2A, has truncated daylight hours due to the mountains and can get a killing frost 12 months of the year. This greenhouse is unique because of its construction. The greenhouse is built with a timbre frame structure and strawbale infill walls. The render on the strawbale walls does an amazing job at managing the heat in the greenhouse.
Jacob and Anna run a blog called Northern Homestead and have done an incredible job at building multiple low cost geodesic greenhouses. This 15 ft diameter geodesic greenhouse gives them 3 seasons of growing and cost less than $1000 to build. One of the most innovative systems that they created was their heat storage system which uses a car radiator, fan and simple pump to store water in a 3000 litre water storage tank.
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