Saturday, October 23, 2010

Green Greenhouses

I was initially looking to get in to see the PSU Herbarium, but when I went to meet with Professor Mitch Cruzan, the key to the herbarium was not available. Instead he graciously took me on a tour of the PSU Research Greenhouses located south of the Stott Center.

Professor Cruzan was full of information about the greenhouses. They are strictly for research purposes, and are used by Biology, Physics and other departments. There are other greenhouses for teaching purposes - one is located on the third floor of Science Building 2.

The most important fact about them is that they are the only LEED-Silver (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified greenhouses anywhere. There are many factors that allowed the greenhouses to be granted this certification, some occurring on the site prior to construction, some related to the materials used in construction, and some related to the efficiency of systems used in the greenhouses.

Inside, the building is divided into a head greenhouse and four independent greenhouse 'bays'. The head greenhouse contains an office space, low-flow toilet and shower (to promote commuting by bicycle). The head greenhouse also contains the main systems, which can be remotely controlled. These systems sense the occupancy of the building and control light and heat accordingly. The systems also automatically control shades which cover the ceilings to control light during the day and to conserve heat at night. The panels are not made of glass, but of a polycarbonate material that is more insulating.

Water for the plants is cooled as needed by running it through these cooling coils.

There will eventually be 6 more bays added to the greenhouse, for a total of 11,000 square feet of research greenhouse facility.

Professor Cruzan also talked about a seed bank that will be coming to PSU, and the existing aquaculture facility in Science Building 2. There are so many interesting things to be found in the Science buildings!

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