There is no getting around the fact that greenhouses absorb resources, but making the right choices when you design, build and run your own greenhouses can make your growing performance a responsible one. Construction with environmentally friendly materials, designing energy-efficient greenhouses and utilizing resources responsibly from the performance of the greenhouses are all do-it-yourself choices that lead to greenhouses’ sustainability.
A typical greenhouse operation is a voracious consumer of plastics and other environmentally unfriendly materials, from the plastic film covering on many do-it-yourself greenhouses to the plastic packaging of fertilizers and soil. Choosing recycled or recyclable materials whenever possible, both at the construction of greenhouses and in their regular performance, is one way to run sustainable greenhouses. Reusing or recycling planting pots, trays and packaging also lessens greenhouses’ ecological impact.
Passive Solar and Thermal Banking
By their own nature, greenhouses are great at collecting energy from sunlight and using it to heat their insides to the proper temperature. Passive solar design, that can be employed in most greenhouses, doesn’t use electrical or mechanical devices to capture solar power but simply employs a building’s structure to collect and store the energy. Allowing for adequate control of ventilation when you design greenhouses minimizes the need for fans and other energy-consuming cooling solutions. Gathering and storing solar heat for subsequent use is a process called thermal banking. A thermal-banking system that uses sunlight to heat water and stores the water underground, in which it may be used to heat the greenhouses in cooler weather, is an ambitious do-it-yourself project, but it can help to create the operation of greenhouses more sustainable than it might be otherwise.
A greenhouse operation utilizes a lot of water, and among the most effective methods that you may create your greenhouses more environmentally friendly would be to adopt sustainable irrigation practices. Consider collecting rainwater from the gutters on the greenhouses or on other buildings on your house, then utilizing a gravity-fed distribution strategy to move the water to storage tanks for use on your greenhouses. In case you’ve got a pond on your property, it also can be a convenient supply of water for irrigation that has a low ecological impact. Building a rainwater or pond water collection and storage system is a job that’s well within reach of a resourceful do-it-yourselfer.
Sometimes it’s necessary for a greenhouse to consume energy, but making simple changes may minimize its energy consumption. For example, replacing incandescent lighting with fluorescent fixtures significantly lessens the amount of energy consumed by greenhouse lighting, and replacing fluorescent fixtures using high-efficiency sodium vapor illumination, although more expensive initially, may boost energy savings even further and provide more effective rise lighting for plants at the exact same moment.